An effective website is the single most useful tool for any startup. I want to emphasize the word effective here. Not eye catching or aesthetically pleasing or cutting-edge. Effective. Successful. Useful. So how do you design a website that works as good as it looks? It’s all about strategic content, solid tech, and a post-launch website checklist plan that works.

It can be easy to get swept up in the romance of creating a brand. Designing a logo that captures who you are. Crafting language that speaks to the strength of your vision and passion for what you do. But the brutal truth is this: if your website doesn’t function well, nothing else matters.

 

Content

Cut to the Chase: What is Your Value Proposition?

This is your moment to tell users who you are and what you do. Don’t bury the lead. You only have a few seconds before users decide whether they’re interested enough to stay and poke around a bit longer. This makes it especially tempting to try grabbing users’ attention with something out of the box, but clarity is king here. Tell them what they need to know: what your product is, how it works, and how it’s going to help them. That’s it. Nothing more.

Have a Clear Call to Action

Your users know what you’re all about thanks to that great value proposition you led with. But now what? Do you want them to create an account? Sign up for notifications? Contact you for more information? Choose one—yes, one—and make it count. CTAs need to be two things: simple and descriptive (i.e. what am I doing and where will this lead?). This is not the place to get creative with your language.

Remember Your Audience

Again, pick one. Only one. And get to know your audience as well as you know yourself. What do they care about? How do they talk, think, and act? What are their frustrations and anxieties? Every word on your website should be written with those things in mind.

In a nutshell: your content isn’t about you. It’s about your users.

Tech

Make Your Design Accessible

There are a lot of boxes to check when it comes to accessibility. Have you checked your color contrast? Provided useful alt text? Chosen a legible font? Eliminated jargon and other overly complicated language? Accounted for assistive tech like screen readers? If you’re unfamiliar with website accessibility best practices, it’s easy to find in-depth information on each one of these topics (of course, Savy can help too!).

Optimize SEO

Good SEO isn’t as complicated as it seems. Create a list of keywords and work them into your content organically. Write relevant alt text. And provide clear and unique page titles and meta descriptions. That’s all it takes.

Test Your Website Performance

Try using your website on a variety of devices (mobile vs. laptop vs. desktop, Android vs. Apple) and make sure the design and functionality is consistent across all platforms. Try using different browsers and simulate different network speeds. Leave no stone unturned. Nothing kills conversion like a slow load time or broken button.

 

Post-Launch Maintenance

Iterate, Iterate, Iterate

Just because you launched doesn’t mean your website is done. Good website design is iterative. Whether you’re making improvements based on your initial launch plan or addressing unexpected issues, you have to be prepared to update, refine, and optimize your website from the day you launch onward.

To make sure these updates are a priority, set aside dedicated time for them in your daily or weekly schedule.

Rely On Analytics

Analytics are your post-launch best friend. There’s no better way to gauge if your efforts were successful. And no better resource for prioritizing and designing updates. Check your analytics often and with an open mind—the data might surprise you.

A quick note: I know we’re talking a post-launch website checklist, but analytics really are a pre- and post-launch website checklist item. Make sure your analytics are set up before you launch so you’re collecting valuable data from day one.

Remember that Adaptation is the Name of the Game

We all want our website designs to be perfect, but they likely never will be. With a good pre- and post-launch website checklist, you can keep an eye out for chances to hone what you’ve built and know that constant change is part of the process.