Building Your Startup’s Marketing Hub
This is the final part of our month long Startup Series. Check out last week's entry, Upgrade Your Exposure: SEO for Startups.
Now that you know who you’re marketing to with your company’s cohesive brand and identity, it’s time to execute your brand and build the website that will serve as the hub of your startup’s marketing efforts.
Finding a Development Partner
With choices that range from freelance developers to full service digital agencies, choosing a development partner can be an overwhelming process. In looking for a developer you’ll want to keep in mind that you need more than just a coder, you need a partner who will understand your business.
Building a shared understanding can take time, so start by looking for these more tangible assets:
- Communication skills - This includes both speaking and listening. Discussion and questioning are healthy, and essential, parts of any process.
- Strong portfolio - Demonstrated knowledge and understanding goes a long way.
- Process documentation - Proof of a successful internal process indicates both experience and a willingness to be held accountable for deadlines and deliverables.
- Workflow examples - If this is limited to “we FTP our code to the live site,” run. Your developer should treat your site like the lifeline that it is for your business. Ask about version control (like git), deployment processes (we love Capistrano here) and bug tracking.
- Clear estimates - Know what you’re paying for. You wouldn’t let a mechanic get away without an itemized bill of work. Hold your developer to even higher standards.
Planning and Feature Definition
What you should come out of this process with is your minimum viable product (MVP). The whole idea behind an MVP is getting a working, testable product out the door and collecting feedback as soon as possible. Only the most crucial features should be included, avoid building a mansion when all you need is a camping trailer.It’s very likely that this has already been done, so either take a look back at your feature list or get started defining the key pieces of your website. At this point it’s really easy to get carried away, so make sure you avoid biting off more than you can chew (or pay for). Start by defining the features that are essential to the success of your business, make sure each feature solves a problem and map out every interaction that you can.
Choosing a Platform
Once you’ve built out a list of key features for the first iteration of your website, it’s time to choose a platform that will best suit your needs. At first it may seem counterintuitive to do this after your site’s specs have been defined, but it can often be helpful to define features independent of the technology used to build them to avoid any limitations that may introduce.
Here at Elevated Third, we work almost exclusively with Drupal thanks to an extremely flexible and scalable feature set and a huge community of passionate and skilled open-source developers (10 of which work right here, in our office). That’s not to say Drupal is the only option. There are quite a few great open-source platforms out there, each with a unique feature set that may be better suited to your business model.
Now Go Build Something!
With the main pieces of planning out of the way, it’s time to get your website out in the wild as soon as possible. Don’t let insignificant hangups keep you from launching and collecting data with users in the real world. Remember: test, analyze, iterate and refine, that’s the beauty of the web.