I build web, mobile and desktop apps, produce screencasts, write ebooks, and provide pairing and training

From pre-launch landing page to launch - getting your site online

Jun 27, 2013 - Elliott Draper

If you’ve been following along on the previous posts, you’ve identified a business idea (or more than one), done some market and audience research, and setup a pre-launch landing page to further gauge interest. Assuming you’re happy with the level of interest, and still feel that the idea you’ve chosen is a good one, now it’s time to get online and actually launch!

Depending upon your product, you have a multitude of options for getting a site up and running. As a result of the many different options, we’re not going to go into tutorial level details for working with each option in this post, but we will go ahead and outline the different paths you can take - you of course need to find the best one for your particular business!

Blogs

So if you’re in the business of either selling your information, or your expertise, you most likely want to focus on a blog-like site, with some additional information about yourself. This will allow you to write and demonstrate your knowledge to the world! Anything to do with blogs brings Wordpress instantly to mind, but you could also look at Tumblr, especially if you were planning on a blog that is perhaps more personal and encouraging more social interaction (reblogging, liking etc) than a corporate business blog. Again it depends on your target market as to the aesthetic you’re aiming for - Tumblr is probably easier to get up and running with, and has a wide variety of free and paid themes, but Wordpress will give you a lot more options for expanding the site at a later date in terms of features. It too has a galaxy of available themes and styles ready to use.

If you think that you need more than “just a blog”, and customising Wordpress heavily to achieve that doesn’t sound like fun, then you can move more into more generic software that lets you build websites with lots of different features. Virb is just one site that offers this, and it offers a wide variety of themes meaning that with just a little bit of time, you can piece together the features and style that you want for your site, and include a blog alongside other features like a photo gallery.

Selling physical products

Of course, if your product involves e-commerce, and actually selling and shipping a product, then you need something that makes setting up an online store easier. If it’s a physical product, then you can setup an online store in a few different ways. Shopify is one such package you can use to setup the store, with different plans available that offer differing feature levels. Another popular site is Big Cartel, which again offers different packages to suit different needs, and is fairly easy to get up and running with. How complex you want to get with the store depends on the types of products you are shipping - but for the most part, as a small business just starting out, you want to make sure that the store is personal, and engaging - you’re not (yet) Amazon, and so impersonal e-commerce won’t get you very far. Instead, make the store fun, and people will be more likely to stick around - and the longer they stick around, the better the chances they’ll buy something. We’ll come back to personal touches a little later.

Digital products

If the product is digital (such as a screencast, e-book, etc), then you can use a digital delivery provider such as Space Box, Digital Product Delivery, or Gumroad. These apps make it easy to setup products, upload them for people to purchase, and then they provide checkout links that you can drop on your site (see the above options), and you have yourself a business that will (hopefully) make money as you sleep, orders coming in and being fulfilled without you being sat at the computer. This process will work best if the amount of products you envisage offering is going to be quite low - so if you write a new book a couple of times a year, or do one screencast a month, it’ll be manageable. Anything more, and you’ll probably want a storefront of some kind.

You can use Shopify or Big Cartel mentioned above to also deliver digital goods - Shopify integrates nicely with FetchApp, and Big Cartel uses their own app, Pulley. This gives you the storefront with customisation and extensibility, and differing levels of packages to suit your needs, but with digital goods, similar to Gumroad and Space Box. This is an ideal solution if you have an extensive array of digital goods for sale, because although you’re still not having to deal with inventory with digital products, it will be easier to keep track of all the things you are selling in this way.

Bespoke development for specific requirements

Of course, it might be that you want a storefront with something very custom, or a very specific, unique design that meshes with your ideas for business branding. Or perhaps your product doesn’t fit into the above categories, and you need a custom app building to support the product - or maybe the product itself is a custom application. In that case, you need bespoke development, something we offer here at KickCode. We have a bunch of experience with a variety of sites and products, and with different e-commerce and CMS platforms, meaning that we can (where feasible) start with those as a base and build out your custom features, or if required, start from fresh with an entirely custom built solution that will be perfect for your business. Contact us to find out more!

Personal touch

Once you’ve got your site setup, either using an online software package to configure and host the site, or by contacting a reputable, reliable web development company such as ourselves, you’ll need to promote, market, and sell! As I mentioned, a personal touch will be key no matter what industry you are in, and no matter what product you are selling. Simple things such as dropping people a note via email to ensure they were able to download their digital goods purchases, or scrawling a smiley face on the receipt when bundling the physical package ready for shipping and delivery, can make all the difference. It may not be the one thing that ensures they use you again, but it can’t hurt, and it’ll certainly help when someone asks them if they can recommend anyone in your area of expertise, or where they got that fantastic product they bought from you. As a small business, your biggest advantage over bigger businesses is your agility, your ability to do small, personal things for your customers that the big guys couldn’t possibly do. Make the most of that!

Next time

Next time out, we’ll jump ahead a bit to when your site is launched, and analyse how you can work out what is working, and what isn’t on the site - and then show you how to tweak it, re-analyse, and progress. Whether you need to focus on increased user signups, more sales, or a decrease in cancellations, you’ll be able to use the same pattern to improve your results.




Check out our macOS apps, AppTrack and WordTarget.

If you're looking for bespoke development for your own apps, using Ruby on Rails, RubyMotion, React Native or Unity, you can hire @ejdraper - visit ejdraper.com to learn more.


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