It has been a bit over a month since the launch of the new Indie Shopography, and I'm still coming off the huge hard-work-hangover that I got from working day and night for months to make it happen.
Launching a new website, and especially one for a new business, is a grueling task.
But, what's the hardest part of launching a new website?
The hardest part for me, and every one of my clients, is not deciding on a design or even working through their business model.
The hardest part is generating the content for your new site.
Developing your content is hard, and – by far – the most time-sucking thing when it comes to developing a new online presence.
However, creating content does not have to be so scary. It's just a task that must be tackled, and is much more easily accomplished if you go at it with a process in mind.
Here's how I did it (and also how I help my clients do it):
- Create a list of pages/elements.
This list is essentially a basic sitemap, and should include everything that anyone will ever see on your site. The most common pages include a home page, about, and contact. Some little-known ones you should include are your newsletter auto-responders, blog comment confirmation, and the page folks land on when they submit your contact form. It's going to get extensive, but having a full list will allow you to gather your thoughts and work through, without leaving anything out.
- Write your words.
Sitting down and writing out each page, email, and confirmation is going to take time, but doing it all at once (or over a couple of weeks) before actually posting it online will allow you to make sure that you keep everything succinct with your voice. I kept everything in a single word document, so I could scroll through everything at once, read through each page, and keep everything in check. It also allows you to...
- Edit, edit, edit.
Editing your content before posting it online is something that too few website owners do. All static pages (I usually turn a blind eye to blog posts, as I'm way too guilty of not proofreading those thoroughly enough to judge) should be rigorously checked for spelling and grammar. Come on, make your English teacher's proud.
- Now, delete half your content.
Eeek! I know, right. You just spent 2 months writing out all of your content. All of it. And now I'm telling you to delete it? No, I'm not crazy. I'm being very, very serious. When I created my own content, I started with easily three times as much as I currently have on my website. And even though I wanted to my clients to read through a massive web design process list before hiring me, they never would. Ever. People rarely read online, and if you give them too many words, they won't read at all.
- Delete half of it again.
Go ahead, do it. Make sure you have the bare minimum. Give them adequate info without being over-bearing. You'll thank me.
- Get good – nay, great – and relevant images to accompany your content.
People like images, and a pages full of just text is boooooring.
Creating your content, making sure it's succinct, true to your brand, and ever-relevant is the most important step when launching a new website. It's even more important than your design, which is why I personally require my clients to create their content before we design, so their whole heart and head is in it.
Because when you have your content all squared away, then you can really focus on the design. And that's the fun part.
More from the Crafting a Launch series:
Crafting a Launch: Commit