Your website is the front door to your business. It shows legitimacy and builds trust with potential users and customers.
Your website will undergo many, many iterations over time. This guide is intended to help founders quickly launch a website with suggestions on how to approach their website iteratively.
This is not a best practice guide on building the most beautiful, interactive, lead-generating, conversion-optimized website. Eventually, you will hire a marketing team to do this.
For companies that are able to maintain the original project name, it’s best to keep the open source project and commercial company websites together rather than separate if you can. Two different websites can cause confusion and require double the effort to maintain. Much of that effort will be duplicative.
Don’t worry about deprecating the existing open source project website. Instead, make the commercial company website a superset of the two. The commercial site should be the go-to destination for all communication and information. Eventually, the two websites may evolve into one, but that can happen over time. Doing everything all at once may alarm the community. It’s better if this is a gradual process that happens as the community gains trust in the commercial entity. People are a lot more receptive to change as long as the commercial company is consistently doing the right thing.
Once your company is incorporated and ready to launch, you need a website.
Your website on launch day should answer the following questions:
- Who are you?
- What do you do?
- Where can I contact you?
Once you have this information, publish your website!
Avoid agonizing over your text for long stretches of time. Write the answers to these questions as clearly and concisely as possible and asks a few people to review and give you feedback.
The second iteration of your website should provide information on the user benefit of your product. It should answer the following questions:
- Why should I (the potential user or buyer) care?
- How do I get started? If your product isn’t available to users, consider offering beta access or email signup for updates.
The About section of your website is where you can build trust with potential users and customers. It should state your purpose, mission, and vision. It can explain the founders’ story, background on how the company started, and its relationship to the open source project.
For example, try to answer these questions:
- Why does the company exist?
- What problem are you solving?
- How is your product uniquely positioned to solve the problem?
- What experience and credentials do the founders have that make them uniquely qualified to work on this problem?
- What is the company’s and/or founders’ relationship to the open source project?
Include a contact form on your website and any social media links.
- Headline and sub-headline. The headline should answer the question “what does this company have to offer?” The sub-headline gives additional context as to what you do.
- Features/benefits. Clearly call out the core features and benefits of your product. Language should be clear, simple, and concise. Avoid jargon and include a sentence summarizing the user benefit.
- Call-to-action (CTA). What action do you want visitors to take? If you have a product ready for people to try, your call to action may be “Sign Up” or “Install.” If you don’t have a product generally available, your CTA may be to sign up for email updates.