As a startup, you need to build a website for your new product. You have some ideas and resources but the initial design is not quite there yet. In this blog, we’ll share how we built our current site and some of the challenges that came up along the way.
The how to build a website from scratch is a blog post that will teach you how we built our website for our new product.
Editor’s note: We’re introducing a new product, and we’d like to invite you to join us. As a result, we’re peeling back the curtain to show you what goes on behind the scenes of creating and releasing something new.
After you’ve done reading this article, go back and read the first, second, third, and fourth parts in the series.
You’ll need a website regardless of the kind of company you’re establishing. These days, having a website is arguably more essential than having business cards.
Some companies, such as food carts, may be able to get by with just having a Facebook and other social media presence. However, these days, it is the exception rather than the norm, and you will almost certainly need a separate website.
It’s also never too early to start planning how you’ll construct it. These things take time—often much more time than you expect. You must consider what kind of website you need and how you will construct it, and you must begin the process as soon as possible.
We’re currently working on our new product, Outpost, at Palo Alto Software. Our website will be the major source of information for prospective customers regarding our product, as well as (most crucially!) the key source of price and subscription information for Outpost.
Our Outpost website will also serve as a primary resource for our consumers seeking assistance and determining how to contact us.
Here’s a short reminder if you haven’t been following along as we’ve spoken about constructing Outpost:
Outpost allows teams to quickly monitor, discuss, and react to messages sent to generic email domains such as [email protected] and [email protected]. Outpost acts as mission control for all of your incoming emails, ensuring that each one receives the appropriate answer and that nothing slips through the gaps.
You may start from the beginning and obtain the whole narrative if you want to understand more about how we developed Outpost. Alternatively, you may continue reading to discover how we designed and developed our website.
Begin by writing a creative brief.
Start here if you don’t have a creative brief yet. A creative brief specifies how you want to promote your product or business. It establishes your brand’s tone of voice, color palette, value proposition, and much more. The way your website communicates with consumers is defined by your creative brief.
If you’ve gone through the logo creation process, you may already have a creative brief. If that’s the case, you may just reuse it on your website. Now is the moment to create a creative brief if you haven’t already.
Fortunately, I’ve previously published a comprehensive guide that explains how to accomplish it, along with samples from the Outpost creative brief so you can see how we did it. So, if you need help with your creative brief, read my post on how we came up with our logo and creative brief, and then come back here when you’re ready.
Make a sitemap.
You’ll begin working on your sitemap once you have your creative brief in hand. A sitemap is essentially a list of all of the pages (along with their functions and goals) that you want to include on your website.
The sitemap we created for Outpost is as follows:
- Home: A summary of the product with a “call to action” to sign up for a free trial. Other sites that explain characteristics are linked to as secondary links.
- Features Overview: A summary of all features with links to further information.
- Feature A’s feature detail: Feature A’s details.
- Feature detail for Feature B: Feature B details
- Rep for all of the features.
- Pricing information, including links to join up for a free trial.
- Customers: Successful customer profiles.
- About Us: A description of who we are, as well as our mission statement and history.
- Contact Us: Information about how to contact us, as well as our hours and location.
- Jobs: This page contains a list of our current job opportunities.
- Blog: A blog’s homepage with a list of recent blog articles.
- A number of blog articles will be published. This article will serve as a model for them.
- Help Center: Zendesk will power our help center.
Of course, your site will most likely vary somewhat from the Outpost sitemap. If you own a restaurant, you’ll undoubtedly have a page or two dedicated to menus and another for bookings. You’ll definitely have a lot of different product pages if you’re creating an online shop.
Your sitemap describes, to the best of your ability, what you believe your site will include. This little amount of planning will make the remainder of the site planning and development much simpler, therefore it’s well worth the money now.
Before you start designing, write your content.
You’re going to believe I didn’t place the order correctly. Shouldn’t you consider about the text you’ll place on the page before you build your website?
In reality, thinking about your website text first and then designing around it is a superior way. Why? Because the message you want to send to your consumers is much more essential than the site’s ultimate appearance. Of course, design matters, and you want a nice-looking site, but if you can’t convey your important ideas to your visitors, a nice design won’t make up for it.
Writing your content first also helps you and prospective designers in comprehending what each page is attempting to convey. As a consequence, you’ll get superior design that supports your message. Even if you’re going to use a service like Squarespace to create your site, understanding what each page has to say before you choose a design can save you a lot of time.
When it comes to your design, you may need to tweak your text to make sure everything fits together correctly, but it will be far simpler than writing copy for a design that wasn’t designed for your message.
You’ll probably want a headline for your home page that explains precisely what you do—your main value proposition for your clients. After that, you’ll provide a brief, extended explanation of what your business performs.
Outpost, the product we’re developing, has the following title and extended description:
Organize and Streamline Your Shared Email
Messages submitted to generic email addresses like support@ or info@ may be easily tracked, collaborated on, and responded to.
The text you put on your home page will be decided by the kind of business you are, who your clients are, and what you need to convey after that.
Outpost has to explain the product’s main features and advantages to prospective consumers and urge them to discover more. We’d like to speak about how fantastic our customer service staff is.
However, this may not be the best configuration for your home page. If you’re a restaurant, you may wish to provide menu links or information on how to make a reservation. Because each business is unique, determine what you need to say and then write it down.
But don’t panic if you start with a blank page. Instead, make a list of your favorite websites in your field and consider what you like and hate about each. What navigation system do they employ? What pages are included in the package? What kind of pictures do they employ? You don’t have to start from scratch, and utilizing a beloved website as a springboard is a fantastic way to get started.
Last but not least, less is generally more. Don’t be tempted to fill your website with endless paragraphs of text (unless that’s what your consumers want!). If you observe how you use websites, you’ll see that you often skim over content rather than reading every word. Keep your content brief and to the point since most people read online by skimming rather than reading every word.
Create a wireframe.
A wireframe is a rough representation of your website’s layout. It’s not really a design in the traditional sense. It’s a document that indicates where items will go on the page in broad strokes, without regard for color or graphics.
A wireframe will be created for you as part of the design process if you’re working with a designer to develop your website. You may simply create a wireframe on your own if you’re utilizing a service like Squarespace or Shopify to develop your website.
Don’t be put off by this step. To create a wireframe, you don’t need any particular software. To draw up each page of your site, all you need is a pad of paper and a pen. Keep in mind that you aren’t “designing,” and a wireframe doesn’t have to be beautiful. It just needs to explain where things go on a page.
If you’re stuck for ideas, look at other websites you enjoy and see how they organize their content on each page. It’s quite OK to take design from other websites and use them as inspiration for your own.
If creating wireframes with pen and paper isn’t your thing, you may use PowerPoint or Keynote instead. Balsamiq, for example, is a specialized wireframing tool that makes the process simple.
To give you a sense of what a wireframe looks like, I’ve provided Outpost’s homepage wireframe below. You may also look at the text we produced in the previous stage, as well as a drawing of a visual element we’d want a designer to develop.
For Outpost, we created a wireframe.
Conceive and construct
It’s now time to start designing and developing your website. If you’re working with a freelance designer or a design company, they’ll take over from here.
However, if you’re like most businesses, you’re most likely doing it yourself and want to keep expenses down. If this describes you, you’ll need to decide on a platform for creating and hosting your website.
Consider your requirements first. Do you just need a one-page website? Do you want to add a blog to your site? Will you be selling your goods online and will a shopping cart be required?
There are hundreds of options, but I’ll highlight a few of my favorites so you don’t get too bogged down in the process of selecting a platform for your website.
- WordPress is a fantastic, low-cost platform for any straightforward website. You may choose from a variety of design choices and get started for free. If you want to operate an online shop with a lot of goods, I wouldn’t suggest WordPress, but it’s a fantastic choice for a simple informative website and blog. WordPress is used by hundreds of thousands of websites, therefore you can’t go wrong with it. There are also some possibilities for adding commerce features to your site if necessary.
- Shopify: If you want to sell things online, Shopify is a great option. This platform allows you to operate your complete online shop and includes all of the back-end capabilities you’ll need to handle your goods, inventory, and more.
- Squarespace is a jack-of-all-trades platform. Everything from a blog to an online shop may be built with it. It’s also a fantastic place to start, with stunning design templates and limitless versatility.
In the case of Outpost, things are a little different. We have an in-house designer and several developers working on our website as an established business. If that wasn’t the case, I’d probably construct our website using either WordPress or Squarespace.
Iterate and test
The job isn’t done after your new website is up and running. In fact, it’s just getting started! You may not want to hear this, but now that your site is online, you must determine if the content you created is effective. Is your content convincing enough to persuade consumers to do what you want? Finding the appropriate designs and text will improve the amount of clients you have and ensure that every visitor to your site is getting the most out of their visit.
You’ll need to perform some tests to sort it all out. This is referred to as A/B testing. It’s when you compare your present website (the A-version) to a competitor’s website (the B-version) (the B-version). Then you compare the two versions to see which one performs better. Increased sales, calls to your company, or just persuading consumers to click on a different page are all ways to evaluate performance.
I won’t go into great length on A/B testing since it’s a subject for another day, but I will say that you’ll need some extra tools to complete your testing.
Convert Experiments or Visual Website Optimizer are two tools I suggest. Both are excellent, low-cost options that make testing simple.
You’ll also want to make sure you’ve set up an analytics service like Google Analytics (which is free!) to see who’s visiting your site and what they’re doing once they’re there.
Please don’t hesitate to ask me any more questions or suggestions regarding getting your website up and running in the comments.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I create a product website?
You can use Shopify to create a website.
How do I introduce a new product to my website?
You can create a new product page on your website by going to the products section of your admin panel.
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