A Shakespearean play always has the same five-act outline. Acts I-III being the build up, Act IV being the climax and Act V is the end result.
Now imagine if site building were a Shakespearean play. Acts I-III would describe the proactive steps you’d take in aspiring to build a website. Act IV would take all of the lessons learned and use them to build a skeletal structure of your website. Act V, the finale, would entail the building and completion of your website.
In recent posts, we have detailed acts I-IIl for you. You’ve learned how to keep your site safe from malware, what to do if the domain name you’d hoped for has been taken, and the essential details on planning your site with SEO in mind. These acts have included some of the proactive steps to take before you’ve mapped out the blueprints of your site.
Next, we’re turning to you for the climax of Act IV. It’s your turn to take the pieces we’ve given to you and string them together for the kicker – the creation of your website. But before you do, we have one more step to give you before the wheels are turning, and your site is underway.
Before you start building your website, review your competitors, look at what’s already out there and how it can be improved (without copying, of course). In the paragraphs to come, we outline tips on successful competitor research. Trust us, you will have your Act IV underway in no time.
List the Do’s and Don’ts
Once you’ve found your competitors, make a list of what components are working well for them and what aren’t. Maybe they have mapped out a great system for their navigation but didn’t quite follow through on layout. When it comes time for you to develop your own site, keep these examples in mind. Use the “Don’ts” list, as a reminder for what you will never include, and use the “Do’s” as mere inspiration when developing your new list entitled, “Things to do better.”
Information Provided and Left Out
When reviewing your competitors’ sites, go beyond aesthetics, and dig into the core. What details did they include in their site, and where did they fall short? Maybe they’re a personal trainer, and didn’t include class cancellation. Or if they sell apparel, maybe they left out an FAQ page. Use these shortcomings to your advantage – they will make for great content.
What Makes Your Business Better?
Take a look at your competition and use them to not only make a better site but a better business as a whole. This should include:
- Better customer service: If they’re offering email support, consider going a step beyond and give a 24-hour response time. This will boost your customer engagement and may even lead to great reviews.
- Better prices: Try to make your prices lower than your competitors. If their prices are lower than you can go, detail the time and quality that goes into your product, and why your prices are higher. (Hint: Quality over quantity!)
- Product guarantee: Take your competitors refund policy to the next level and offer a product guarantee. This will keep your customers’ minds at ease and boost your credibility.
Make Your Site Stand Out
We all have ideal websites we find visually pleasing. Maybe you love their contact form, or think they configured a brilliant online store. Compile ideas referencing what you love about your favorite websites, and use them as inspiration (but not plagiarism!).
Be sure to compare these to the “Things to do better” and “Don’ts” lists you composed earlier, and come up with your own spin. With these inspirations paired with our new Style Designer, your site will without a doubt standout from the crowd.
Once you’ve reviewed the sites of each of your competitors, rate them on a scale from 1-10. Maybe you give one a six, and one an eight. Keep building and adjusting until you’re confident your site is no less than a 10 on any scale. Set your bar high – the climax of Act IV will not settle for par, and neither will your success in Act V.
Stay tuned for Act V: “Building Your Website DIY”!