Are you in the process of setting up a new website? If so, it’s important that your website is set up for success. There are some must-haves that can determine the performance and functionality of your site. Here is a handy list that you can use to ensure that your new site is ready for launch.
1. Start with a Quality Web Host
Don’t shortchange yourself by going with a low quality web host. You want a web host that offers strong performance, reliable uptime figures, outstanding support, and access to the latest technology. If you want to evaluate the quality of a service provider, start with the cheapest plans and don’t commit to the annual plans. If you feel that the service is exceptional, you should consider switching to the cheaper annual plans.
And if you are using WordPress, it pays to go with a WordPress hosting plan instead of a shared hosting plan. The reason why is because these WordPress hosting plans are optimized for the CMS platform. They also offer support specifically for WordPress and throw in other bonuses. On a final note, make sure you upgrade your hosting plan once you start to get a decent amount of traffic coming in.
2. A Well-Organized Navigation Menu and Site Structure
User experience is one of the most important aspects of creating a website. A great place to start is the navigation menu and site structure. Your navigation menu should be intuitive, well organized, and have a clean appearance on mobile devices. You should also create a site structure to group similar pages and content in defined categories.
Since your website is relatively new, this will be an ongoing process. You’ll have to constantly update your navigation menu and site structure as you add more pages and content to your site. It’s important that you stay on top of this as getting sidetracked will leave you confused about where things go. It will also make it harder for search engines and human users to find deeper content/pages.
3. A High Quality Theme or Template
Whether you’re using WordPress, Joomla or Drupal, you want to install a high quality theme or template for your website. The right theme or template can make it easy for you to build, design and mange your site. You may be tempted to go with a free theme or template, but this is not ideal. Look for popular premium themes and templates that others are having success with.
The designers and developers that created these themes and templates are very dedicated to their products. They’ll offer top-notch support, release regular updates, fix bugs, and continue making improvements. You can search for them at marketplaces like ThemeForest. And of course, you will want to go with a product that is responsive and optimized for the mobile experience.
4. A Handy SEO Plugin
Even if you’re not planning on building a SEO campaign at the moment, it will benefit you immensely to install a SEO plugin. Plugins like Yoast will help you optimize your pages and posts for the search engines. It will help you set the canonical URL, measure keyword density, target your titles towards the right keywords, create attractive meta descriptions, and more.
It’s better to do this now when your site is small. If you ever do decide to start investing into SEO at a later date, it will be so much more difficult to go back and redo each one of your pages and posts on your site. Plus, optimizing your pages and posts right now can lead to some free traffic if they start generating links naturally.
5. Social Media Integration
If you want to leverage your visitors for more traffic, you need to make sure all the basic social media functions are set up on your site. First, enable your social media accounts so that visitors can follow you across the platform of their choice. Follow this up by allowing visitors to share your content on all the major social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
You may even want to try integrating special features like Pinterest’s Pin tools. This is a tool that will allow users to instantly share the images on your page to Pinterest. There’s also the Instagram feed tool that allows you to stream the latest Instagram on your site.
6. Email Newsletter Subscription Form
A big part of your success will come from building an audience. A reliable channel for doing so is through email. You want to start by signing up to an email marketing platform like MailChimp, AWeber or GetResponse. Some of these services are free for smaller email lists, so you won’t even have to pay a subscription fee until your audience starts to get big.
Following up with email subscribers with regular site updates, newsletters, and recommendations is a tried and tested way to generate repeat visitors. It’s also necessary if you plan on using your website to generate revenue. Email marketing is still one of the most effective channels you can use to sell your products and services.
7. Security for You and Your Visitors
It’s now become important to have SSL encryption for your site. It protects the information of your users, especially if you are selling products and services on your site. Google also rewards sites that are using SSL encryption in their search listings. There are occurrences where certain sites are blocked from being accessible on their Chrome browser due to it not being secure.
You also want security for yourself as well. Make sure you download the latest versions of WordPress, fixes to the latest exploits, and security tools/plugins to help you defend against hacks. It’s also a smart idea to have a service or tool that backs up your data regularly in case the worst happens and your site crashes.
These are some essential must-haves you should be aware of while launching your new website. Most of the tips and things on this list are pretty straightforward and simple. However, they will go the distance when it comes to helping you build, promote and manage a successful site.