This article will help you exactly with this your situation. You will learn everything to be fully prepared for starting your (re-)launch project. And you can download my Ultimate Website Prep List where you will find all steps in an excellent overview.
First of all: Don’t reach out to any designer or developer you found on Upwork or LinkedIn asking them how much a new website costs.
It is too early, believe me. No trustworthy designer or developer would ever be able to give you a reliable budget or timeframe at this stage. Why? Because not even you know what it is that you want exactly. So how should they figure it out and put a price tag on it?
Instead: Find out, what you really need.
Every website should fulfill a particular purpose: it is, for instance, the place where people find out about your new iPhone app or you want to publish your new travel stories. This purpose has to be linked to your business goals.
This means that you first have to know what these are. Business goals are a part of your strategy. Ideally, you already have your strategy defined, and you know exactly who your target groups are, why they should choose your product (aka your value proposition) and who you are competing with. If not, then this is the perfect moment to get started with it.
A strategy will not only help you to get the perfect website, but it also gives you a clear picture of your business. Thus, you will communicate the advantages of your product more precisely, know how to reach your users and turn them into customers. You can find a guideline how to define your strategy in my Ultimate Prep List.
Which role will your website play?
Got your strategy figured out? Great. Now think about how your website fits in there. Start with your primary objective. What is the most important thing you want your visitors to accomplish? Purchase a product in your e-commerce shop or make an appointment for a hair cut? And how will this action bring you closer to fulfill your business goals?
Let’s be more specific.
Now that you have figured out what you want to achieve with your website on a higher level, you should dig a little deeper. As you will be spending money on creating a website and promoting it, you surely want to know what you should get out of it. Yes, I am talking about your ROI. In order to define your ROI, it is helpful to identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) or as I would describe it: How will you judge if your new website is successful or not?
How to come up with the right KPIs.
Especially if you are starting a brand new business, this is not always easy. In many cases, there is a lot of guessing involved. If you want to be on a safer side, I suggest you use the reverse calculation method. This means instead of starting on top of your sales funnel (this is attracting new users), you start on the bottom (your converted customers). This way you can find out how many users should click on your website to reach your goal.
Let me give you an example: Let’s say you are selling your new eBook on your website. It costs 10$, and you want to sell 100 books per month. You want to have 100 paying customers at the end of your funnel. In case you are already collecting data for your website you can find your conversion rate in your analytics tool. If you are starting from scratch, you will have to use third party data. Here is a great website which shows average conversion rates for several industries and marketing channels.
Let’s assume your conversion rate from organic search is 3%. You would have to attract at least 3333,34 customers per month to sell the 100 books ((100*100)/3)=3333,34).
More about KPIs.
I recommend using a maximum of three KPIs for your website. This will help you to stay focused on these goals and not to do a hundred things just a little bit. Keep in mind, that your KPIs have to be measurable, achievable, relevant and time phased.
Predict the future.
We figured out a lot about your website so far – good job. Here is another very important detail that so many customers of mine keep forgetting. I call it: thinking ahead. In this step, you will have to plan what will happen during and after your website launch. You will have to take care of some tasks which will take time and possibly money. So, it is wise to consider them before starting your project.
Your tasks during the launch.
One crucial thing I always tell my customers is that they themselves are a part of the project team. Like the other team members (e.g. developers or designers) you have to fulfill your own tasks as well. You will have to make time for that or the project will be facing delays and could possibly cost you more money.
Here are some to-dos you can plan ahead:
- Do you already know where your website content is coming from?
- Who will be testing the website before it goes live?
- Did you think about a way to promote your new online presence?
You have to answer all these questions before your team can even start to design a single page of your website.
What happens after the launch?
As you probably already know: a website is not a one-time-launch-and-forget instrument. It is a very active communication channel which needs to be taken care of regularly. You will have to the take time to analyze your results. You will need to update your content, make changes based on your results and so on. This means you should think about how often you want to update your content. And, secondly, define who will be in charge to do so. Who will be writing your text? Where do images or videos come from? All of this takes time (either you do it yourself, or you hire a person for it) and time always means money. So please keep this in mind when you calculate your marketing budget.
Last but not least: let’s get technical.
You did a good job so far. But I am afraid we are not done yet. There is one last thing that you have to decide: the technical side of your project. Before you want to run away or hide in your bed because you have no clue about development or servers, let me tell you there is no need to be afraid. You don’t need to be a technical expert. There are just some basics you should think about before talking to a project team because they will come up sooner or later.
First, do you already use some kind of technical set up like a hosting provider, a URL or a CMS? If yes, then you have to decide whether you want to keep it or want to change the existing set-up.
If you are starting from zero, then try to figure out these things:
- Do you have a URL you want to use? Is it available?
- Do you want to use a CMS? Do you have one in mind?
- Do you understand anything about hosting provider and servers or do you want somebody else to tell you what to do?
See, that was not scary after all, was it?
The end. Nearly.
Congratulations! You are now officially ready to start your project. Go ahead and reach out to designers or developers and tell them what you found out during your preparation. They will be so happy that you are a client who knows what he wants. If you want to have all these questions in one place, then download my Ultimate Website Prep List here. It contains every detail to be perfectly prepared for you website launch.