In all aspects of your business, you want to bring the most value to your customers, leveraging the fewest resources. Your website is no exception. In order to optimize online engagement (which fills your sales funnel), you need to a website that is lean and easy-to-navigate. These are the tools you need to simplify the process of creating it.
What is the Philosophy Behind Building a Lean Website?
This type website development is the Permaculture of the internet – the concepts are waste-free and sustainable. Here are the four basic principles of lean web development:
- To Eliminate Waste
- To Give Power to the People
- To Make Decisions at the Last Moment and Deliver Quickly
- To Optimize Across all Channels
Anything that isn’t valuable to the viewer is waste, so it needs to be eradicated. The people are your website visitors, contacts, leads, customers, and evangelists. Any decisions regarding the development of your website should be made after thorough research and implemented right away. Your blog, parent and subpages, and your external content should be optimized.
Why Should You Choose This Kind of Web Design Strategy?
Lean web design benefits outweigh the alternative – to design based on a single strategy like UX, aesthetics, interactivity, or something else. It is a tactic with fast results based on internal data. With lean web design, you setup the framework, then monitor the results as you continue to build. You have the opportunity to tweak and change while you build traffic and engagement – not spend several months getting a site up and running, then launch with several elements that need repairs. It is an intelligent way to develop your web presence.
The Tools You Will Need:
You will need an array of tools to get started. Domain and website hosts, a content management system, eCommerce software, and plugins will get you started. Here are some essentials to explore.
Domain Hosting Tools
The URL of your site is something you can purchase at the beginning of the project. You will need a Domain host. These are the industry leaders for purchasing and hosting your domain.
- Google Domains – Choose a domain for as little as $12 per year, seamlessly build a website with the integrated web hosts – Blogger, Shopify, SquareSpace, Weebly, or Wix – and customize your company email with the Gmail platform. These are your options with Google Domains, who has simple domain management tools.
- BlueHost – If you are going to use BlueHost for your lean website hosting, it is probably a good idea to purchase your domain through them as well. Moving back and forth between multiple organizations can be time-consuming.
- GoDaddy – Because GoDaddy website hosting isn’t highly rated for speed, though it is a leader in the domain realm, do not use them for your website hosting. Yes, the integration to WordPress is streamlined, but you will end up moving later if you host anything substantial on your site (videos, interactive elements, etc.).
Site Hosting Providers
You may think that you can get away with free hosting. And, you might be right… for awhile. But, as your website grows, so will your storage needs. Here are some of the top web hosting platforms.
- MidPhase – Receive website hosting for less than $6 per month. The business hosting plan offers unlimited bandwidth, which makes this option inexpensive and
- BlueHost – With BlueHost, you’ll have great support, speed, and flexibility. This is the platform recommended by WordPress – integrations between the two are simple.
- Amazon Web Services (AWS) – If you ask the development community, they will tell you that AWS provides the cleanest platform for a fast website. The only problem is that it requires more technical understanding than the competition. Luckily, everything you need to know is located in suport pages and tutorials.
Content Management Systems
You have many options in the way of content management systems and website builders. Each has a unique set of benefits. Choose from some popular website platforms.
- WordPress – This is the industry standard for content management. It requires a little more technical experience than most drag and drop alternatives, but less than Drupal and Joomla.
- Drupal – A great option for social networking and eCommerce websites, this system requires quite a bit of technical knowledge.
- Joomla – This is the most powerful content management system, but requires knowledge of HTML, CSS, and PHP to be effective.
In some cases, you will integrate your eCommerce software with your website. In others, you will create your entire site from within the eCommerce platform. Here are some great options for online shopping:
- Shopify – Find the best theme for your online store. This software package offers an array of free and paid themes for your online store. You can use the shopify plugin to start selling on your WordPress site.
- BigCommerce – Build an aesthetically appealing store with the industry’s best themes. Sell your products with BigCommerce’s fully-responsive paid and free ecommerce templates. Add a sub-domain to integrate BigCommerce with WordPress.
Optimization Plugins & Add-Ons
Since WordPress is a popular CMS, let’s take a look at available plugins that help you keep your site clean and clear from excess elements.
- W3 Total Cache – Improve the UX of your site by reducing download times. Fully configure this plugin for up to 10 times better overall website performance.
- Compress JPEG & PNG Images – Optimize your images by compressing them through internal services like TinyJPG and TinyPNG. Resize images in bulk by setting maximum height and width limits.
- CDN Enabler – Leverage a network of distributed edge servers, accelerating your content around the globe. Improve your site’s scalability, reliability, and performance.
These tools will get you started cutting out the excess weight in your web development. What other lean website tools do you use and love?
Jared Carrizales runs the Heroic Search team in Tulsa and Dallas. They handle content marketing, social media marketing, SEO, and digital PR. Jared has worked in the digital space for the past 9 years and has the bumps and bruises to prove it.