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Thinking About Setting Up a Website For Your Startup

Thinking about setting up a website for your startup, but not sure where to start? This article is meant as a quick overview of the most important things for you to remember.

Having a great looking website is important for a few reasons. It is your first impression – most people spend just 10-20 seconds on a web page. Unless you provide the information they’re looking for right away, you might have lost them forever. A good design also helps convey a sense of professionalism. You’ll be hard pressed to find a popular startup with a subpar website these days.

Fortunately, creating a good and functional design isn’t too hard. We have the advantage of being able to look at big brands, such as Flipboard or Dropbox, to see what works.

When browsing through their websites, you’ll notice a few common themes. They are minimal. They highlight the important content. The action they want the users to take is clear.

Let’s take a look at the home pages of a couple startups.

Flipboard

flipboard

Instagram

instagram

Dropbox

dropbox-website

MailChimp

mailchimp

You’ll notice that all of them have two key features: a picture of the product, and a “call-to-action”. These are probably the two most important things to include.

Video

As mentioned before, users are fickle. If you’re trying to explain a complex product in text, you’ll have a hard time. Dropbox is a good example of this.

“Dropbox allows users to create a special folder on each of their computers, which Dropbox then synchronizes so that it appears to be the same folder regardless of which computer is used to view it.”

That doesn’t exactly convey how great the product is. Ever since the beginning, Drew Houston realized that trying to explain what Dropbox does in text wasn’t going to work. Instead, the business opted to have a short video to explain the service on their home page. Much more effective (70,000 signups in one night after releasing the video).

Call to Action

Just as important is the call-to-action. Your call-to-action is the features that lets your visitor take the action that you want them to do – whether it’s download your product, sign up for your service, or submit something. When looking at the home pages of the previously mentioned startups, we notice that the call-to-action is emphasized on these pages. It’s big, and the color makes it stand out from the rest of the page.

On Dropbox’s website, it’s the sign-up button. On Instagram’s, the download buttons.

When setting up your call-to-action, you want to consider what you want your visitors to do the most. Instagram’s website also offers a log in button, but it’s not the emphasis of the homepage. This suggests that they would rather have somebody download the app than log in (although I’m sure they appreciate both). If your user takes just one action, what do you want it to be?

Brand Guidelines

In addition to these two key elements, there are a few other important things to keep in mind. You want all the text on your page to be clear, short, and to the point. Looking at the previous examples, you’ll be hard pressed to find anything longer than a paragraph of text. It might also be a good idea to have a proper press page – take a look at the one Dropbox has, it’s a great example.

dropbox-pr

 

Storytelling

One interesting idea is telling a story about people using your product. The best example is Apple’s ‘your-verse’ campaign. On their ‘your-verse’ page, you find stories of people using iPads to accomplish interesting tasks. A great example is the “Choreographing a vision in Bollywood” story, which follows a dance choreographer who uses his iPad to assist him in planning out the choreography for his next performance. This is a wonder way to help people identify how they could use the product.

apple-bollywood-vision

With a page like this, you’ll definitely want to include lots of vibrant images and minimal amounts of text (while still letting you get the point across).

Conclusion

While not a complete guide, I hope that this brief outline works as a starting point for those who need it. For additional insights, try looking at other big startup’s websites for ideas and examples of things that are important to include.

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