How To Make A Startup Website In 2024 In 5 Steps (+ Free Resources Included)

2024 is going to be your year - you can feel it. There's been an idea bubbling away and now you're ready to launch it out there to the world. You have just quit you're full time job and you want to go all in on this idea. You have set up social media accounts which your mate's brother's girlfriend has been helping you post on, but you know that you need a website. You can't keep sending friends and family to your startups Instagram account!

So, you start looking online and try and work out how to do it in a cost-effective way that actually gets you the results you want with the skillsets you have. And you realise it's a tad confusing.

There's design, development, templates, hosting, SEO and more. Sigh.

Don't worry yourself - we're going to go rip through some basics step by step. For this article, I'm going to assume you have nothing done or at least nothing done well.

We have free resources to download at each step of the way to help you too.

Here are the 5 steps:

1) Strategy

2) Design

3) Content & SEO

4) UI/UX

5) Development

⚠️Warning before we begin!⚠️

In the digital age, startups are often caught in a trilemma of wanting their website to be developed quickly, to be of high quality, and to be cost-effective.

However, the reality is that achieving all three simultaneously is nearly impossible. This concept is encapsulated in the adage, "Fast, good, or cheap. Pick two."

If you prioritize speed and quality, the cost will inevitably rise. On the other hand, aiming for a quick and inexpensive solution may compromise the website's quality. Understanding this balance is crucial in setting realistic expectations for your website's development process.

We'll be keeping this in mind as we jump in. Basics first though - why should a startup even have a website?

Why Should a Startup Have a Website?

You probably know this already if you're reading this but just in case, at a glance, here are the reasons why:

Central Hub

A website serves as the central hub for your startup, offering a first glimpse into what your business is all about.

Credibility

It's not just about having an online presence; it's about establishing credibility. People tend to trust a business more when they can find a professional-looking website behind the brand.

24/7 salesman

It's your 24/7 salesman - always available to showcase your products or services, tell your brand's story, and engage with potential customers.

Lead generation

Ok, that's clear. Let's get in to the 4 steps.

Step 1: Strategy

Strategy Questionnaire Download

The first step in crafting your website's strategy involves deeply understanding your brand's core identity. This might all sound a bit woo woo but it's critical to understanding the direction your heading to ensure you can create a brand identity and website with clarity.

To accomplish this, we recommend downloading the strategy questions document for the full list but if you just want some key questions to start noodling, start by asking yourself:

What do we do and why do we do it?

We recommend writing this with no fluff. eg. We make seaweed technology that makes seaweed farming easier. We do it because we believe seaweed is a key ingredient to solving environmental catastrophy and seaweed farming is currently the largest painpoint to solve to get seaweed in to the hands of customers.

What is our mission?

Understanding the purpose behind your startup or what problem you're solving is crucial. What is your northstar goal? If your the company's CEO, what would you like read out about what your company achieved at your funeral? (Deep but thought-provoking)

Who is our target audience?

Download the user persona template from GM2 Design

Identifying who your ideal customers are, their needs, and how they behave online helps tailor your content and design. An easy way to identify your target audience is to identify who are your superfans currently? Who are your most loyal customers? It's important to say that anyone may be your customer but not everyone can be a target. Who would miss you if you were gone and why? What pain points does that person have that means you are particularly important to them?

What sets us apart?

Positioning Template from UX Chunks

Knowing your unique selling points or what distinguishes you from competitors can define your messaging. Why should anyone care about what you do? Asking yourself why should anyone care is important beyond business.

What is our brand personality?

This includes the tone of voice, language, and visual elements that will represent your brand across all platforms. How would your brand speak if it was a person? Like Michael Jordan? Or like Bob Mortimer?

How do we want to be perceived?

Think about the impression you want to make on your visitors and potential customers. What words do you want your brand to be described as? Is it fun, playful, tongue-in-cheek? Or is it sombre, serious but wise.

Addressing these questions is essential for developing a coherent and effective strategy for your website, ensuring it aligns with your overall business goals and brand identity.

So, you're done a bit of internal work. But let's now study competitors and understand how you compare.

Competitor Analysis

Download the competitor analysis template from Figjam

You're probably thinking - "I've done a competitor analysis already! Why do I need to think about this for creating a website?!"

Well, of course a competitor analysis is a critical step in understanding your market position relative to others in your industry but it is also key to identify how your brand can differentiate visually but also spy on the best ways competitors are using their website to their advantage. Here's a brief guide on how to conduct an effective competitor analysis:

  1. Identify Your Competitors: Start by listing out your direct and indirect competitors. Direct competitors offer products or services similar to yours, while indirect competitors satisfy the same customer needs but in a different way.  
  2. Analyze Their Websites and SEO Strategy: Examine their website design, content, and ease of use. Look at their search engine optimization practices, including keywords they target and their Google rankings.
  3. Evaluate Their Social Media Presence: Assess their activity on social media platforms. Take note of the content they post, how they engage with their audience, and the kind of response they receive.
  4. Check Out Customer Reviews: Customer reviews can provide insights into what customers appreciate about your competitors, as well as areas where they are lacking.
  5. Understand Their Pricing Strategy: Comparing pricing can give you an idea of how your competitors position themselves in the market—whether they compete on price or quality.
  6. Identify Their Unique Selling Proposition (USP): Determine what makes each competitor stand out from the rest. This will help you identify gaps in the market that you can exploit.

By conducting a thorough competitor analysis, you can gain valuable insights that will help you refine your strategies, differentiate your brand, and ultimately, better serve your customers.

Ok great, let's assume you've done research, and you've got a good idea of how you can not only visually but strategically differentiate from your competition.

Helpful resources

Books

Videos

Articles

Need support?

Reach out to us

Step 2: Design

Brand Identity Guidelines by Gabriel Forsberg

Brand identity elements

A strong brand identity encompasses several visual elements that collectively convey the essence of your business to the target audience. These elements include:

  • Logo: A unique symbol or design that serves as the face of your brand, making it recognizable across various platforms.
  • Color Scheme: A specific set of colors chosen to evoke the intended emotions and associations with your brand.
  • Typography: The fonts and typographic treatments used consistently in your branding materials to maintain a cohesive look.
  • Imagery and Photography: Custom or curated images that reflect the brand’s personality and values.
  • Graphic Elements: Additional visual components such as icons, patterns, or illustrations that enhance the brand's visual identity.

Together, these components work in harmony to create a distinct and memorable brand identity that resonates with your audience and distinguishes your startup in the competitive landscape.

6 Simple tips on creating a simple brand identity DIY

  • Logo:  Keep it simple, memorable, and versatile. Avoid using overly complex designs that may be difficult to reproduce in various sizes or mediums.
  • Color Scheme: Choose colors that align with your brand's personality and values. Consider the psychological effects of colors and how they can influence customers' perception of your brand.
  • Typography: Stick to one or two fonts for a clean and consistent look. Make sure the fonts are legible and reflect your brand's tone and voice. Sans Serif for modern, clean brand. Serif often used for older feel
  • Imagery and Photography: Use high-quality images that align with your brand's messaging. If using stock photos, make sure they are relevant and unique to avoid looking generic.
  • Graphic Elements: Use graphic elements sparingly and purposefully to enhance the visual identity of your brand. Make sure they align with your brand's style and complement the overall design.
  • Consistency: Consistency is key in creating a strong brand identity. Make sure all visual elements are used consistently across all branding materials to create a cohesive and unified look.

Helpful resources

Books

Videos

Articles

Need support?

Reach out to us

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Free Checklist Download

Step 3: Content & SEO

Use a tool like Clicks.So, Ahrefs or SEMrush to do keyword research

Keyword tracker

Website Objective

Where is your website at and where are you trying to get to?

Before launching into the intricacies of website development, it's imperative to clearly define the objectives your website aims to achieve. These might include, but are not limited to:

  • Establishing a strong online presence
  • Generating leads
  • Increasing conversions
  • Supporting your brand's mission
  • Enhancing customer service
  • Facilitating e-commerce transactions.

Determining your website's objectives is crucial for guiding its design, content, and overall strategy. Start by identifying the primary goal of your website – it could be to educate, sell products or services, generate leads, or enhance customer support.

If you have a website you're looking to re-design, leverage existing data  . Leveraging tools like Hotjar or Microsoft Clarity can provide invaluable insights into your website's user experience, pinpointing areas that may cause confusion or frustration. These tools track and record real user interactions on your site, giving you a visual representation of clicks, scrolls, and navigations. Analyzing this data helps you identify "pain points" or barriers that prevent users from achieving their goals. Armed with these insights, you can make informed decisions on how to optimize your website’s design and content, aligning it more closely with the needs and expectations of your audience.

Then, you can set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) objectives can help create a clear roadmap for your website's purpose and how to achieve it. Examples of specific objectives include increasing product sales by 20% within the next year, boosting newsletter signups by 15% in six months, or improving customer satisfaction through enhanced online support. Always align your website objectives with your overall business goals to ensure coherence and effectiveness in your online presence.

ok great - now you've got some idea about what you want to achieve. How are you going to achieve it though?

A mixture of strategic content and a killer website.

Keyword research

This killer tempate is from Conversion Ninja

Get the template from Convesion Ninja here

Performing keyword research is an essential step in developing a content strategy that aligns with your audience's search intent and enhances your SEO efforts. Here’s a step-by-step plan to guide you:

  1. Identify Your Topics: Begin by listing topics relevant to your brand, products, or services. These topics will serve as the foundation for identifying specific keywords.
  2. Use Keyword Research Tools: Tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, or Ahrefs can help you find keywords related to your topics, including data on search volume and competition.
  3. Put these specific keywords in the target keyword sheet
  4. Write the copy on a specific document (like the one below) with those keywords bearing in mind that if you want to rank on google for these pages, you're going to need as much copy as the top pages on Google.

So, you've got your key pages sorted. Now, you're going to want to think about content for other pages. Again, head to a keyword research tool.

  1. Use Keyword Research Tools: Tools like Clicks.So, SEMrush, or Ahrefs can help you find keywords related to your topics, including data on search volume and competition.
  2. Analyze Search Intent: For each potential keyword, understand the searcher's intent. Are they looking for information, a product, or a service? This insight will help in tailoring your content.
  3. Look for Long-Tail Keywords: While they may have lower search volumes, long-tail keywords (more specific keyword phrases) often have a higher conversion rate because they are more specific to user intent.
  4. Study Your Competitors: Analyze which keywords your competitors are ranking for and their content strategy around those keywords. This can provide insights into gaps you can exploit or areas to avoid.
  5. Prioritize and Select Your Keywords: Based on search volume, competition, and relevance to your brand, select a mix of keywords to focus on in your content creation efforts.
  6. Integrate Keywords into Your Content: Seamlessly incorporate selected keywords into your website content, blog posts, titles, meta descriptions, and URLs to improve SEO rankings.
  7. Monitor and Adjust: Keyword effectiveness can change over time, so regularly review your keyword performance and adjust your strategy as necessary.

By following these steps, you can develop a keyword research plan that enhances your content's visibility and effectiveness in reaching your target audience.

How Do Keywords Work

Keywords are like magic words that help people find stuff on the internet. Imagine you're searching for a recipe online. You type "chocolate chip cookies" into a search engine. Those words you typed are keywords. Websites use these keywords to tell search engines, like Google or Bing, what they have on their pages. If a website talks a lot about chocolate chip cookies, it tells the search engine, "Hey, I have lots of information about this!" Then, when you look up those keywords, the search engine shows you websites that match. It's like having a secret code that helps connect you to what you're looking for online.

Check out this article How to Build a Keyword Strategy from Ahrefs to learn more!

How to Get Email Signups Through Attractive Lead Magnets

The days of "sign up for our newsletter," are long gone. It's harder to get someone to give you their email now.

To effectively increase email signups, it's crucial to offer something of substantial value that resonates with your audience's needs and interests. Lead magnets, such as ebooks, white papers, or exclusive videos, serve as powerful incentives for users to provide their email addresses. The key to creating a lead magnet that people actually want to download lies in understanding your target audience deeply. Conduct research to pinpoint their pain points, interests, and frequently asked questions. Your lead magnet should offer a compelling solution or valuable information that addresses these areas.

Make your lead magnet instantly accessible and emphasize the immediate benefits they will gain by downloading it. Use clear and enticing language in your call-to-action (CTA) to encourage signups, making sure to communicate the value they're getting. Additionally, optimize the landing page for conversions by keeping it simple, focusing on the lead magnet, and minimizing distractions. By aligning your lead magnets with your audience's core interests and presenting them in an engaging manner, you can significantly boost your email signup rates and build a strong, interested subscriber base.

Let's look at some great examples of lead magnets:

Great Examples of Lead Magnets

  1. Interactive Quizzes: Offering an interactive quiz that provides personalized results or solutions can be an excellent way to engage users. For example, a fitness website could offer a quiz titled "Find Your Perfect Workout Plan" that asks questions about fitness level, goals, and preferences, delivering customized workout recommendations in exchange for their email addresses.
  2. Checklists: A well-crafted checklist that helps users achieve a specific goal can be highly valuable. For instance, a marketing firm might offer a "Social Media Audit Checklist" to help businesses evaluate and improve their social media presence.
  3. Templates: Offering templates that save time and effort can attract many signups. A popular example would be resume or business plan templates provided by a career coaching website, helping job seekers or entrepreneurs get a head start on their objectives.
  4. Free Trials: Giving users a free trial of a product or service can be a powerful incentive. Software companies frequently use this approach, offering a 14 or 30-day free trial in exchange for signing up with an email address.
  5. Exclusive Reports or Market Insights: Providing in-depth reports or insights that are not available elsewhere can entice professionals and industry insiders to sign up. For example, a financial advisory service could offer an exclusive report on investment trends for the upcoming year.

Helpful resources

Books

Videos

Articles

Need support?

Reach out to us

Step 4: UI/UX Design

Wireframe design

A wireframe is a simplified visual guide that represents the skeletal framework of a website. It's a crucial part of the UI/UX design process as it lays out the structure, hierarchy, and relationship between the site's pages and content without getting bogged down in design elements like colors or images. This focus allows designers, developers, and stakeholders to align on the site's functionality and user experience before moving into more detailed design stages.

  1. Layout the User Flow: Map out how users will navigate through the site to complete their tasks.

Get the template here

This kit is a great starting point to use as a base for the rest of your startup's website pages

Wireframing is iterative; it's about exploring different approaches and refining the design based on feedback and new insights.

Key points to remember when wireframing your website

Prioritize Clarity and Simplicity: Ensure that your wireframe is easy to understand at a glance. A clear and concise design will make it easier for team members to provide feedback and for developers to implement the design.

  • Keep the User in Mind: Always consider the user's perspective and experience when designing your wireframe. Use user flow diagrams and personas to ensure that the design meets their needs and expectations.
  • Maintain Consistency: Consistency in the layout, icons, and design elements across pages helps in creating a cohesive user experience. It also reduces the learning curve for users navigating your site.
  • Focus on Functionality: The primary goal of a wireframe is to lay out the functionality of your website rather than its aesthetics. Make sure that all navigational and interactive elements are clearly defined.
  • Iterate Based on Feedback: Wireframing is an iterative process. Be open to feedback from stakeholders, designers, and potential users. Use this input to refine your wireframes and enhance the site's usability.

Use components to make it easier

What are components?

In the context of web development, components refer to reusable and independent blocks of code that encapsulate a portion of the user interface (UI). These pieces can include anything from buttons, forms, and navigation bars to more complex functionality like sliders, data tables, or even entire sections of a website's layout. The key advantage of using components is their modularity, allowing developers to create a consistent look and feel across a website or application while minimizing code duplication. This approach not only speeds up the development process but also enhances maintainability and scalability, as changes to a single component automatically propagate to all instances where it is used. Furthermore, components encourage a clearer separation of concerns, making it easier for teams to collaborate on web projects by dividing work into more manageable, isolated units.

What is Tilebit?

Tilebit is your ultimate resource for exceptional web design components that draw inspiration from the world's best and most innovative designs. With Tilebit, you have access to a curated collection of design elements that not only reflect the latest trends but are also proven effective in the real world. Whether you're creating a website in Figma, animating it in Framer, or bringing it to life in Webflow, Tilebit offers similar layouts that you can easily duplicate and customize for your project. This approach not only saves time but also ensures your website stands out with a professional and cohesive look.

Helpful resources

Videos

Need support?

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Step 5: Development

Webflow Templates

There's a lot of different website builders out there.

Not all website builders are equal though.

We use Webflow because we think that it's the best website builder for most of our clients - read why in our article "What is Webflow," but if you're still on the fence, we've written these articles too to help:

Webflow vs Wordpress

Webflow vs Squarespace

By carefully considering these factors, you can select a development platform that aligns with your marketing goals, budget, and technical requirements, ultimately enhancing the effectiveness of your lead magnet strategy.

How to Build a Website with Webflow

Building a website with Webflow is a streamlined process that combines design flexibility with ease of use. Here's a basic step-by-step guide to get you started:

  1. Sign Up and Plan Selection: First, create a Webflow account. You can start for free and choose a plan later based on your website's needs.
  2. Choose a Template or Start from Scratch: To speed up this process, we recommend you duplicate a template
  3. Add and Manage Content: You have got beautiful copy and brand identity ready to go. With the CMS feature, you can create and manage your website's content efficiently. This is particularly useful for blogs, portfolios, or any site that requires regular content updates.
  4. Integrate Features: Webflow allows the integration of various third-party applications for added functionality, such as e-commerce, SEO tools, and social media links.
  5. Publish Your Site: After finalizing your website design and content, connect a domain name and publish your site. Webflow hosts your site on a secure, high-performance server.
  6. Analyze and Optimize: Use Webflow's built-in tools and integrations with platforms like Google Analytics to monitor your website's performance and make necessary optimizations.

Webflow simplifies the web development process, making it accessible for designers and marketers alike to build professional, custom websites without needing to write code.

Pre-Launch Checklist for Your Webflow Website

  • Content Review: Go through all your website content (text, images, videos) to ensure accuracy, spelling, and grammar. Double-check contact details and Calls to Action (CTA) are correct and functional.
  • Responsive Design Test: Verify that your website looks good and works seamlessly across different devices and screen sizes, including desktops, tablets, and smartphones.
  • Browser Compatibility Check: Test your website on various browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge) to ensure consistent performance and appearance.
  • Link Validation: Check all internal and external links to confirm they are working correctly and lead to the intended pages. Don’t forget to look at navigation and footer links.
  • SEO Essentials: Implement basic SEO elements like meta titles, descriptions, alt text for images, and ensure URLs are clean and user-friendly.
  • Loading Speed: Test your website’s loading speed using tools like Google PageSpeed Insights. Address any issues that could slow down your site.
  • Security Measures: Activate SSL to ensure your website’s connection is secure. This is vital for protecting your visitors' personal information.
  • Privacy Policy and GDPR Compliance: If applicable, make sure your site has a privacy policy page and that you're compliant with GDPR, especially if you're collecting user data.
  • Social Media Integration: Ensure all social media links are correctly added and leading to the right profiles. Check the functionality of any social sharing features.
  • Backup Your Website: Make a final backup of your website before launching. This will be useful if you need to revert to the pre-launch version.
  • Favicon: Add a favicon to your site, ensuring your brand's logo appears in the browser tab.

Once you've completed this checklist, your Webflow website should be in excellent shape for a successful launch. Remember, launching your website is just the beginning—regular updates, content additions, and optimizations are key to ongoing success.

Analysing & Optimising

After launching your website, it's crucial to continually analyze and optimize its performance to ensure it functions as intended and meets your goals. This process involves several key steps:

  • Monitor User Engagement: Utilize tools such as Google Analytics to track how visitors interact with your site. Pay attention to metrics like bounce rates, session duration, and page views to understand user behavior and areas of your site that are most engaging.
  • Gather User Feedback: Direct feedback from users can be invaluable. Consider implementing surveys or feedback forms on your website to gather insights about user experience and areas for improvement.
  • Conduct A/B Testing: Experiment with different versions of your web pages (such as headlines, call to actions, images) to see which versions perform better in terms of user engagement and conversion rates. Tools like Google Optimize can facilitate this testing.
  • Optimize for Search Engines: Regularly update your content and ensure your website adheres to the latest SEO practices. Keep an eye on your search engine rankings and adjust your strategies as necessary to improve your visibility.
  • Check Website Performance: Continuously test your website’s loading speed with tools like Google PageSpeed Insights. A fast-loading site improves user experience and helps with SEO rankings.
  • Update Content Regularly: Keep your website fresh and up to date with regular content updates and new features. This not only engages users but also signals to search engines that your website is active, which can help improve your ranking.
  • Review and Update Security Measures: Security threats evolve constantly, so regularly review and update your security measures. This may include software updates, monitoring site activity for suspicious behavior, and renewing SSL certificates.

By regularly analyzing and optimizing your website post-launch, you can enhance user experience, improve search engine rankings, and achieve better engagement and conversion rates.

Helpful resources

Books

Videos

Articles

Need support?

Reach out to us

Conclusion

In conclusion, the process of creating an effective website does not end with its launch. The digital landscape is constantly evolving, and so should your website. From refining SEO strategies and enhancing website performance to updating your content and fortifying security measures, these ongoing efforts are crucial for staying relevant and competitive. Leveraging available resources, such as insightful books, informative videos, and in-depth articles, can provide further guidance and inspiration. Remember, the success of your website is a continuous journey, not a one-time achievement. Whether you seek to improve user experience, enhance search engine visibility, or ensure robust security, ongoing optimization is key. Should you need additional support or have questions, don't hesitate to reach out. Your website is a dynamic entity, and nurturing its growth will pave the way for its long-term success.

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