Mukund Krishna: Promoting your software startup with a good website

Mukund Krishna is CEO of Suyati Technologies
It is no secret that I have a soft corner for startups. I have been there and done that, and can completely relate to the struggles and joys that building a company can bring. In the next couple of articles, I want to chronicle the steps you can take to promote your software startup --  relatively quickly and cost-efficiently.

First up, let us focus on getting your website right before we move on to the other weapons in the marketing arsenal.

A fantastic but simple website is the very basic of requisites for a startup. As software developers, we know we have the code and the knowhow to make great products, but that just isn't good enough if we want clients. What a client really needs to see (at least at the start) is a great, professional looking website. Here are 10 things to keep in mind when designing your startup website:

1. Simple design patterns with simple animations
As developers, we know code and have the ability to create radical flash designs that can wow clients, but that will not be of any use if the client loses patience waiting for your home screen to load. Surveys show that 40% of the visitors will leave the site if the page takes more than 3 seconds to load. Simple is key.

2. Meaningful content
Using CSS (cascading style sheet) for layout, ensuring compliance with universal standards and HTML 'validators' may make a lot of sense to us in the software world, but it means absolutely nothing to clients who are on your website. The only thing that means anything to them is what is on that page; the pitch that will convince them to sign with you. That is why you need to dedicate a whole lot of time to the content on your website. This is the most important focus of your website design. 

3. The importance of a mobile-friendly version cannot be overemphasised. 
With the rise of the smartphones era, the lack of a mobile version of your website can be fatal. While you are at it, ensure that it is completely flexible to other devices and browsers.

4. Leverage vertical scroll
A vertical navigation menu on a single page layout will save the client the load time taken to open different pages. Another advantage of the vertical scroll menu is that the content opens with the same width and height on any screen no matter the screen size, a boon for a Responsive design layout. 

5. Simple colour patterns and simple menus
Keep your website neat and clean; infusing it with gaudy colours is a huge mistake as it detracts from your message. While looking at some 30 web designs that make use of a minimalistic three colour scheme -- simple, beautiful and classy is what came to mind.

6. Lots of whitespace
The basic role of white space is to eliminate clutter. It is the space between elements that makes it easier for browsers to process the text and important graphics on screen. Whitespace guides the eye of the reader and brings the design together harmoniously. 

7. Pleasing font selections
You don't want to go for grandiose, complicated fonts. It might look imposing but is far off the target when it comes to getting your message across to the client. Keep in mind that load time applies here too; however fancy a typeface looks, it won't be effective if it doesn't load at lightning speed. Another thing to keep in mind is that the typeface you select should be compatible with modern web interfaces across different platforms.  

8. Highlight your USP on every page
A strong, instantly recognisable USP is a must for any business and leveraging that USP on every page is equally important. Highlight a different benefit of your USP on each page and ensure that there is a consistent message in your overall marketing efforts. 

9. Should be super secure; yet easy to update
Ensure that your website is secure and not subject to DoS or other attacks. On the other hand, with content becoming a major part of marketing collateral, multiple teams within your startup (HR, marketing, design, etc) should be able to upload and maintain content on your website. The easiest way to do this is through an easy to use Content Management Systems (CMS) like Wordpress. 

10. Encourage social sharing
Social sharing is the biggest strategy in marketing right now and your website should capitalise on this. The easiest way to do this is to add social sharing buttons on your site.  This makes it easy for people to share content, which in turn boosts traffic to your website.  At the least, the buttons should enable sharing on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

A recent study by BrightEdge technologies had this interesting finding: on average, a website without a Twitter share button was mentioned four times, while a site with a tweet button was mentioned 27 times. Including a Twitter plugin button increased mentions on Twitter almost sevenfold. 

Definitely worth adding that button. With social sharing comes the responsibility to share good and relevant content. In my next article we will talk (among other things) about this very important aspect of marketing. Stay tuned!

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel