This list was originally gathered by Anthony Roffidal, our information architect and SEO specialist for instructing our internal team for launching new websites.

Step 1: General

  • Robots.txt
  • Adding Analytics tracking code
  • Implementing all tracking events on CTA and in nav (optional)
  • Url rewriting to strip off www
  • sitemap.xml
  • Crawl website to make sure no link is broken
  • minify css and js (optional)
  • Favicon
  • Htaccess speed tips
  • 404 (UX tips: search/ fix URL/ sitemap/ Homepage)
  • Accessibility check
  • SSL / https

Step 2: On page SEO

  • Meta title
  • Meta description and keywords
  • Canonical
  • Make sure there are no coding errors
  • Add microformat/ microdata
  • add alt text to images and links
  • respect the hierarchy of <h1> → <h6> and <strong>
  • Make sure no link is broken

Step 3: After launch

  • Ownership of both websites (www and non-www) on webmaster tools
  • select preferred domain on WT
  • Adding sitemap.xml to google, then select fetch as Google, submit to indexation.
  • Linking Analytics to WT
  • Enable Google search console
  • Enable All Analytics features
  • MOZ Campaign (optional)

This is a topic to start writing in series and we will do a brief introduction to name the most important steps toward designing a website.

Doing the process over and over for many years, my best products come to life when the stages of design where followed and there was time in between each iteration to sync in and reflect; with fine designed timelines and adding review stages in the design process, we have been able to cater the better outcome. In earlier years of my experience, I would jump across an idea to development – which may still happen for prototyping an idea; today I find it most practical to go through each step.

  1. Project Definition – Gathering the goal and what the project is going to deliver is key for any project. For website design, the requirements will touch various areas and different ways of shaping the solution which makes it critical to make a list of required deliverables. Defining a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a good practice to finalize this step. MVP means what does my project need to deliver to function at the minimum, what are the additions we can add to it?
  2. Project Timeline – With a deadline and start date as part of the project definition, it’s often best to design our timeline to allow iterations, reviews, and design with stakeholders. Rushing the design process is never a good idea and planning ahead can make your design project much more lasting!
  3. Creating a Design Board – Digital or on a real wall, it’s great to put up all the ideas and the design pieces as we gather them and create the first prototypes all the way through the final design. It makes sure we follow and keep improving, not going back or sideways! Starting prototypes may suggest various directions, but once the design direction is defined, it becomes harder and very costly to go back.
  4. Prototyping early – Again, it’s easier to prototype stuff and go through many ideas with rough lines and sketches. Once remaining pieces are assembled it becomes much harder to make abrupt moves or the changes become less viable on the count of our design decision-making process.
  5. Organizing Content – From copy, fonts, images, and graphics, it’s best to keep them all organized. Documents can be shared via sharing apps to keep the editing team and the designers and developers on the same page. Images and media files also are best to be kept with the source files within shared folders across the team. Keeping the files organized will save time and will also help to deliver the same organization through the project. For example, when all source images are available, a developer can run an automation script with photoshop to export all images at the resolution needed and rename them quickly. The marketing team can review the file names and make sure they have the right meta and so on.
  6. Low-Fidelity and High-Fed Design – Getting the final designs done with content, images and all key pages of a website in UI and UX design stage will help the development to go smooth and with little challenge. With responsive layouts also provided to developers, there are fewer assumptions and more predicted scenarios for each User Experience that needs to be achieved in our final web design.
  7. Website Structure – CMS or Just HTML is the question we often ask. If the content is going to be changed more than once every 3-6 months, then developing a CMS website can be advantageous. With the idea of keeping a fresh site and blogging, often CMS wins this, but there are still plenty of landing pages and one-off campaigns that don’t need a CMS.
  8. Website Coding – To deliver a website with custom design, handling html, css and javascript are needed to achieve the full results. Using page builders and template websites is also a way to get small projects up and running and there will be more automation and less need for coding all the pieces of front-end websites as we move forward with the evolution of web development technologies.
  9. Website Testing –  After completion of Frontend coding and backend integrations, the website is required to pass some web standard tests and compliance. There are stricter standards such as Web Accessibility becoming mandatory for the modern web that promotes equality of access to information.
  10. Website Launch – Website launch can go as expected with planning and organizing the process. See our website launch checklist for what we recommend to be done before each launch.

Starting from just a small team of hands-on staff, we’re now at a point where phone calls and emails from our clients demand our constant attention.

This attentiveness is necessary to keep pace with the ever-evolving demands of client communication. The introvert in me tends to shy away from this communication and stay focused on the tech and coding side, but as we are a business, time must be spent on the business side of things. Things like planning and sales forecasting. Things which are uncharted territory. Even intimidating. But my perseverance through it comes inspired by the fact that our clients love what we do. And part of that love is because many of our clients previously struggled to find a company that does what we do in the way we do it.

Where are the good developers gif

Mission was to search for some potential clients and projects. I have gone back to my whiteboard (Sketch app) few times to draw the map of our conversions. We just launched a new website with some conversion optimizations and simplifications made in our information architecture. We normally test our new websites by flowing some additional traffic to the site with various marketing and SEM pushes like Social Media and Paid Ads: it helps us to get an immediate response from new visitors and learn quickly from their first impressions. It was time to execute our SEM plan for this stage and watch the visitors response!

 

Researching the best CRM Tools

After getting the website, the landing pages, and all the media outlets ready, it was time to run the ads and still here I am; picking which CRM to go. This was not the last minute homework since I enjoy testing apps and I have become really good at it. But there were so many CRM tools with many interesting features each that I felt like being in a toy shop, amazed by all the cool toys. Needless to mention that each comes with a nice price tag and I only could pick one or two at most. After almost two weeks of research and broader testing, I have narrowed down 6* modern CRMs and I am down to maybe one or two from all to give our company what we need.

*Zoho CRM, Pipedrive, ProsperWorks, Contactually, Insightly, and Nimble.

If I narrow down my criteria of search, I was looking for few specific features:

  1.  Integrations
  2. Contact management
  3. Integral Forms
  4. Sale Pipelines
  5. Lead Nurturing and Sales programs

Most CRMs that were tested had all 5 above elements with their twists and various User Experiences and focuses. I put my research together to make a final decision and rank these against one another for our use.

 

CRM Tools Comparison

comparison table of 6 best crm with rankings

Given that most of the CRMs have API interactivity embedded, using an external application on each of these CRMs is technically possible to make any interaction happen. The extent of this ranking goes as far as testing the difficulty of integrations to unlock each feature. That is based on our interest in using a CRM for our web company requirements, preferences, and resources. We have also left out many other CRMs out of the scope here in this review, and I’m sure they require attention when it comes to finding the fittest solution in other scenarios.

After ranking my preferences through test drives, google search, watching videos and all the figuring out – I’m still having a hard time to pick one. At this point, I’m certain one CRM might not be able to get everything perfect, but each of these apps perhaps perfects one or more areas they are made for.

 

What I looked for in these CRMs

User Experience is actually really important to me. Makes me use the app rather than having a rough time dealing with it. That’s why I really loved Contactually at first sight; they really take this idea to next level with the Contacts Gamification. I have to admit, with using some of the right tools, Marketing becomes way more fun that just cold call sale pitches. The whole idea behind Contactually makes sense to find, capture, nurture and develop leads in programs.

Nimble has been awesome in centralizing and importing my contacts so quickly. The sales pipelines and deals are nifty and easily navigated. Their recent feature for email tracking takes Nimble to next tier for me and makes me think they haven’t stopped perfecting this young and fast-growing app.

ProsperWorks was so wonderful to try; felt like home as soon as I landed in the Material Design Google like dashboards and quickly found my way around. There has been so much thinking I believe in the design of this app and its integrity. ProsperWorks literally lives inside your Gmail and tracks every email interaction.

I’m starting to have a love and hate relationship with Zoho. They have covered so much ground in their products and so many good utilities within their various apps. The CRM itself is really practical in many ways and customizable. Sales IQ takes the whole Zoho CRM to another level. Yet, some stuff are hidden behind doors and takes a while to get around, I just wished these all came under one roof with a single price tag.

During the next test, I couldn’t hide my excitement to want to work with Contactually. It made a really good impression with its quick uptake time and by solving many immediate problems through a simple to understand and usable application. There are missing features for us such as Visitor interactions tracking, Live Chat and Web Forms. I had to go back quickly to whiteboard, and group my workflow criteria into some priorities here:

Our ideal CRM tool, step by step infographic

Conclusion

Looking at the basics, I compared this flow with the apps and checked which satisfied most practicality for our use case.

Contactually had my first choice of interest, but it does not cover much of the tracking work. Looking back, almost none of the above CRMs were strong in tracking the conversions but allowed APIs and integration to other 3rd party apps. Zoho CRM made it slightly simpler and much stronger with the addition of Sales IQ app integration. On the other hand, tracking information from email communication was available in most apps.

Aside from tracking — it may have been too much to ask — I found all other tools capable of Collecting, Segmenting, Engaging and Nurturing fairly well. Contactually has amazing interesting twists in getting the job done. Nimble is compact and offers a lot. ProsperWorks works elegantly in no time. Pipedrive is simple but well equipped with amazing features.

What’s your choice? Leave a comment and tell us why you like your choices of CRMs.