In today’s digital world, it’s questionable whether or not you even exist if you haven’t built some sort of online presence for yourself. The internet has become our ultimate resource for every possible query we might have. We use it as Yellow Pages, to find jobs, to connect with others and socialize, to elevate our skills and learn, or to inform ourselves about the newest trends and current events in the world.
That being said, it doesn’t take a genius to realize just how crucial it is for startups to create a unique business ID in the cyberspace in order to properly represent themselves to the world. Yes, we’re talking about building a website. It should be a part of every startup’s business plan.
Despite what you may think, your startup’s website is not a luxury or an extra mile you’re willing to go in order to launch your business more successfully. An eye-catching and effective website is an absolute necessity, a cornerstone of your survival on the market, the first thing your future customers and clients encounter, and a way to set and maintain your reputation.
According to a survey conducted by the BrightLocal in 2015, there is a strong awareness among small businesses about the importance of being present online: 75% of them find internet marketing effective or very effective for generating new customers. If you look at the results from 2013, this number is a bit smaller (68%), which means entrepreneurs might be getting better at understanding the benefits of distinguishing themselves in the cyberspace.
Another research by GoDaddy and Redshift showed 83% of small businesses that own a website feel they have a competitive advantage over those who don’t. And it’s with a very good reason.
Your Website Is the Alpha of Your Business
We don’t mean to set a division between online and offline marketing as those efforts need to be united for best results, but without a website – there is no starting point, there is nothing to grab onto while you strive towards making the first steps in digital marketing for your business. Profiles on various different social media platforms are certainly advisable, but not sufficient.
Still not convinced your startup truly needs a website? Here are just a couple of reasons aforehand before we dive in for more detailed arguments:
- Your website is your main tool to represent your startup’s mission and position yourself as a problem-solver
- Storytelling sells and it’s never just about displaying your product and services but hitting the right emotion of your buyers; an effective website gives you room to tell your story
- Your website is the number one stop for all of those who wish to inform themselves about your business
- It generates new customers
- It helps you directly explain your product or service and establish the best customer support
- It’s the main way of showing the behind machinery of your product and service (e.g. introducing your team or informing visitors about how was the idea born)
- It is your most important medium for content marketing; no matter what niche you are in, having a blog is always a plus as it helps you build credibility and implement the crucial SEO techniques
In addition to making a functional website, you have to take in mind the design as it communicates what your brand stands for. If you’re a startupper – you should never ever underestimate the power of visual packaging. People are such suckers for amazing digital experiences. But where do you start?
What’s In the (Domain) Name?
You know the old riddle – what came first, the chicken or the egg?
Well, it’s similar in the business world where entrepreneurs are puzzled about what comes first – one’s domain name or the name of one’s business? We hate to break it to you, but it’s kind of a simultaneous thing: you have to take care of both the name that will represent you in the online world and be your official business name. In addition, think about usernames on different social networks: is your desired one available or are there alternatives that resonate with your name strongly enough?
We already wrote about how to come up with the brandable name for your startup’s website.
It might seem as a piece of cake, but it’s in fact pretty demanding, especially if you take in mind that there are over 326 million registered domain names out there. Chances are, your domain name might be already taken so you have to be ready to compromise or be creative enough to come up with something completely new.
Your domain name can actually serve as a branding tool. Some of the most successful businesses out there came up with a name for their business by blending parts of different words together or they made up a completely new word that is catchy, memorable, and has a distinctive feel that serves well to communicate their brand. Does Google ring a bell? How about Yahoo? These words don’t mean anything per se, but they served as points around which very recognizable brands were built.
If you’re wondering how to choose an awesome domain name that’s also SEO friendly, consult our new eBook The Secrets of Better Rankings: SEO and Domains! You can find actionable tips in it along with detailed information about the best domain extensions and branding opportunities. We’ve asked Neil Patel, one of the greatest names of digital marketing, to share with us the most common mistakes people make when choosing a domain name:
They pick a hard domain to spell. When you have a hard domain, people are more likely to make mistakes when linking to you, which can cause you to lose potential links, which then impacts your rankings.
It’s a good thing to keep in mind, definitely!
Choose .ME For Your Startup’s Online Venture
Once you’ve decided on your name and extension (e.g. .com, .me, .net), it’s time to choose a registrar. The registrar confirms your chosen name is available and then creates a WHOIS record with the information you’ve provided. The process of registering your domain name is quite simple and includes certain terms and conditions you’re bind with.
Afterwards, you choose a hosting service. Some registrars offer a hosting service, others don’t – which means you need to take care of it on your own. There are always at least several different web hosting packages and so you should start by assessing your future website’s needs. It’s honestly not rocket science. Just think about it: if only the people with technical background were to launch their websites, the internet would be a pretty boring place, wouldn’t it? Every reputable service has a customer support system that will help you understand the perks of different package plans and find the one that suits your startup the best.
If you want to give your startup a genuine friendly feel, turn to TLDs that are able to communicate that for you. You can count on .ME for several reasons:
- Domain.me has been a great supporter of the startup community from the very beginning and it proudly stands by the online presence of many successful ones (e.g. reveal.me, keepy.me, raise.me, fits.me, handtalk.me)
- .ME can help you come up with a catchy call-to-action (e.g. buy.me, ask.me, need.me), which can drive more traffic to your website
- .ME serves as a perfect alternative if your domain name is already taken with other TLDs
- .ME is available for registration all across the globe; it is a country code TLD, but because of its brandability and huge business potential, it is being used worldwide as a part of generic web addresses, and Google has started treating them appropriately – you can relax as it is a no-spam TLD that’s completely SEO-friendly
- .ME is safe and secure: being a trademark owner, you can rest assured your rights will be protected
- Even the social media giants such as Facebook have recognized the benefits of having a short and memorable domain in order to create a user-friendly experience and stay present across different internet devices (fb.me and m.me for messenger are unique URL shorteners launched by Facebook)
You can check if your desired domain name is available in the .ME search box.
Website Building: DIY Approach or Hire a Pro?
If you’re not quite the most tech-savvy person out there, building a website may seem like a complete unknown land and your initial reaction is probably: I cannot do this. However, there are two main ways of building a website and both have their pros and cons:
- The do-it-yourself approach, where you roll up your sleeves and make the website on your own
- Hiring a professional who makes a living out of programming and designing websites (or alternatively, hiring two persons – one who will do all the coding, and the other who will design your website; naturally, these two persons have to work together)
The first option doesn’t mean you need to learn a programming language. There are many all-in-one website builders that use simple templates and drag-and-drop technique, enabling you to play with different visuals and structures until you find the best solution that fits your startup. There are dozens of them out there, including Squarespace, Weebly, Wix, WordPress.com, and Web.me.
The definite upside of using all-in-one website builders is the amount of time and money you save up, the zero knowledge you need about coding, and the creative freedom you have as you easily experiment with different looks for your site. On the downside, you are limited when it comes to design and you risk creating a website that’s already been seen.
On the other hand, hiring a professional website builder means you can create basically anything you want as your website is built from scratch or by adapting the existing themes. With a pro by your side, your vision can come to life more effectively and you won’t have to settle for the next best thing or a “just okay” solution. However, you will have to pay for that pleasure: according to the Website Building Expert, template customization is between $300 and $1000, while a complete customized website can cost you between $5000 and $10000.
Surprisingly often, the custom website is really not that worth all that money. You can create amazing websites with low-cost website builders or just by hiring someone to adjust the theme that’s almost perfect for your startup’s online presence.
Design Is (Almost) Everything
Great design is extremely important for your startup and it goes beyond just the choice of colors and fonts. We’re talking about the way your site feels, its structure, how logical its navigation is, and what the visuals the users encounter communicate about your brand.
However, it’s not always easy to explain what makes some design a good one. It certainly has to be functional and make users stick around, but how can you tell?
According to the findings of the Change Sciences Group, lack of information and interfaces that are too busy and confusing represent the biggest mistakes in web design. If you pay attention to the right details, it can take as little as 7 seconds to judge a certain website.
In the today’s startup world, the simple one-page websites are extremely popular and it’s not a surprise: they are easy to navigate, they have a structure that’s clear and informative, and they can be perfectly personalized to tell the story of one’s business. These usually contain:
- Company’s logo and other branding elements
- The title and a description
- A call to action
- Visuals (videos or images)
- Effective navigation (i.e. a menu bar)
Wondering how it looks in practice? Let’s analyze the functionality and the design of Fits.me, a startup founded by garment technologists.
The first thing you encounter is a photo of a smiling woman who is well dressed and radiates positive energy. Then you’ll notice a slogan “Forget Size – Find Your Fit” with a CTA button inviting you to start your free trial. Scroll a bit further and you’ll see this startup’s mission nicely defined, along with a description of what problem do they actually solve (or in what way do they make your life easier).
What are some of the things you can certainly notice? Here’s a few:
- The homepage is clear and uses only a few colors to make an impact
- As you scroll, the horizontal sections offer different pieces of information, but they are not swamped with large chunks of text; they contain a small description but have a “learn more” button that redirects the user to a page with more details
- There are nicely displayed measurable statistics to give a better idea of the value fits.me provides
- An image with a slider near the bottom end gives users an opportunity to interact with the website as they control what they see
- At the bottom of the screen are the social media icons, which connects the startup’s main medium (i.e. website) with other channels of communication (Facebook and Twitter profile)
- The bottom part of the screen contains a menu bar that enables a really easy navigation through the website
It is an example of a website that’s user-friendly, functional, and has an easy-to-follow structure, making the users stay longer and explore.
Still Not Convinced About .ME? Check Out This Startup With an Important Mission
Let’s take Handtalk.me as a great example: it’s a revolutionary project that uses technology to support social inclusion and bring the Brazilian deaf and hearing community together. Their downloadable app is a pocket translator that breaks that language barrier. It has a virtual 3D interpreter that translates text and voice to Brazilian Sign Language, along with educational sessions called Hugo Ensina. It has around 1 million downloads, it’s completely free and available for tablets and smartphones. This startup established a strong partnership with the government and it continues supporting deaf students within the public education system.
Handtalk.me was awarded as the Best Social App of the World in 2013, handed by UN at the World Summit Mobile Award, in Abu-Dhabi. The competition was harsh and it included over 15.000 different apps from more than 100 countries.
Now, can you imagine this startup with a different choice of TLD?
Specifically because it has such a humane mission to bridge the gap between the two communities, .ME served as a perfect domain choice, bringing a more personal note to the story and inviting all individuals to learn the sign language and celebrate communication, which is what makes us essentially human.
As we said, a website is your unique business ID in the internet era. Once you handle the technical part of launching your online presence, you can start working on providing the valuable content to your audience and building your identity among the competition. Count on .ME to help you along the way![This article is a part of Domain.me startup serie. Feel free to go through our blog to find more startup-related posts!]