Building a website for your startup: We're 2 startup marketers that just rebuilt our company website without the help of a developer. Ask us anything!

Rally Stano
Sep 4, 2018

Hi there! We're Rally Stanoeva and Henry Brown - the marketing team behind Rewind.

From working at startups and agencies, we've both lived through many site redesigns. Most recently, we rebuilt the Rewind website - from a scrappy website that was written by one of Rewind's co-founders when the company first launched, to a well-designed and high-converting Wordpress website.

The total spent on the redesign was under $500 and we did it without the help of a web developer - just Google and some basic understanding of CSS and HTML. 

Launching a company website is a daunting process. We'd love to offer advice to other marketers facing the same challenges we have and share the resources that we used. Ask us anything from "should I hire an agency or do it myself?" to "what's the best Wordpress theme to use?" 

rally and henry amafeed.jpg

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How easy or demanding was the website migration process? How does one ensure no information is lost?
Sep 6, 7:03AM EDT0

The only information we needed to migrate from the old blog was our blog posts from Hubspot to Wordpress. We hired someone to do it for us which was well worth the money. We also had to migrate the entire site from one Wordpress account to another since we found out right before launch that we would have to self-host our website. That migration went surprisingly well - there was only a couple of links that had to be updated.

Sep 6, 11:12AM EDT0
How much time did it take for you to get this done?
Sep 6, 7:02AM EDT0

Just over a month, but we are continuously improving it and are still working on some additional pages that haven't been published yet. I don't think a website is ever truly done 🤷‍♀️

Last edited @ Sep 6, 11:34AM EDT.
Sep 6, 11:12AM EDT0
Did you study before starting the project or were you carrying out your research as you went along with the changes you were making on the website?
Sep 6, 3:23AM EDT0

I had been working at Rewind for almost a year before the site redesign, so in that time I had gathered a lot of information. Specifically:

  • Customer information and profiles based on interviews
  • Heatmaps (using Hotjar) of our old website to help us see which sections of the website were being used and which were not used at all
  • SEO/Keyword research
  • We determined the sitemap and most important elements we wanted on the site before diving into the redesign.
  • Finally, I did a lot of research to find design inspiration from other websites.

So yes, research is crucial before diving into the redesign so that you're not just spinning your wheels without a clear direction. Now that it's launched, we are running heatmaps again and other tests on the site to keep improving it. - Rally & Henry

Last edited @ Sep 6, 11:54AM EDT.
Sep 6, 11:20AM EDT0
With the rise of social, has the role of the marketers changed over the last five years? How do you see it evolve over the next ten?
Sep 4, 10:36PM EDT0

We'll focus our answer on how the role of marketers has changed over the last five years specifically in social media marketing because it sounds like that's what you want to know about and to keep the answer more concise. 

Over the last 5 years, influencer marketing really took off on social. Like all new marketing channels, in the beginning, you don't need to put a lot of effort into it to get huge results. It's enough to just be one of the first marketers doing it. But eventually customers get accustomed to that tactic and it loses some of its effectiveness. 

That's where we are at now with influencer marketing - customers are very aware of sponsored content and hyper-sensitive to sponsored content that doesn't feel authentic. So the spray and pray approach of sending free products/sponsorships to tons of social media influencers isn't working as well. If their audience is not relevant to yours, that social media post might give you some vanity metrics like clicks and follows but no sales. 

The other problem with influencer marketing is that you are associating your brand with a person that you might not have properly vetted and that can backfire on you. We’ve seen influencers who are caught saying something racist, and then naturally all of their sponsors rush to do damage control and disassociate their brand from them.

Finally - customers are NOT shy to speak their minds on social media. For instance, makeup brands that have released products that don’t cater to a diverse range of skin tones have received a ton of backlash online. And brands that do put out a large shade range (like Fenty beauty) end up growing tremendously on social.

So based on all this, we think that social media marketing will evolve in the next 10 years to focus more on authentic content and consumer-driven product development. Brands will hire more artists and content people on their teams to create original content instead of relying on influencers to create content for them. - Rally & Henry

Sep 6, 1:25PM EDT0
What advice would you give to anyone building or growing a marketing team?
Sep 4, 9:20PM EDT0

This is a great question, as I started at Rewind as a solo-marketer doing everything myself. In the beginning, you need to set the groundwork for all your marketing efforts from a 0 (nonexistent) to a 4/10. For example, you set up the blog and start writing content. Then you can hire people who will focus on a few areas of your marketing (ex digital marketer) to help bring them from a 4/10 to a 7/10. Then when you can afford to grow again, you hire specialists (ex content marketer or email automation marketer) who can take those elements from a 7/10 to a 10/10. 

When you are thinking of going from 1 to 2-3 teammates, it's best to consider what parts of your marketing are important and helping you grow but it's not your strength or you don't enjoy doing, and hire someone who does enjoy that and is much better than you at it. 

Last edited @ Sep 6, 11:30AM EDT.
Sep 6, 11:27AM EDT0
What is your favourite thing about leading the marketing efforts for a start-up?
Sep 4, 5:31PM EDT1

Great question. Getting to wear so many hats is challenging but also a lot of fun, and a great way to learn and grow as a marketer. You get exposure to a lot of marketing and business areas that would be hidden in a larger organization. It's pretty common to see and feel the impact of your marketing efforts at a startup, which is a really rewarding feeling. - Rally & Henry

Last edited @ Sep 6, 11:54AM EDT.
Sep 6, 11:54AM EDT0
What resources do people require to overcome and establish a strong position in the marketplace?
Sep 4, 4:09PM EDT0
How beneficial was google when learning how to do everything needed for a Wordpress website?
Sep 4, 8:52AM EDT0

Google’s an invaluable resource for many marketing challenges, WordPress websites included! WordPress powers nearly ⅓ of the internet, so there’s no shortage of solid help documentation to be found online. - Henry

Sep 4, 1:37PM EDT0
At what point do you realize you were able to build the website yourself? Did you at any point feel like giving up and hiring someone to do it for you?
Sep 4, 4:31AM EDT0

Building a website can definitely seem like a daunting challenge at first, especially if you’ve never done it before! For any new website build, it’s important to sketch out your vision for the site before you sit down and do anything on your computer. This helps to provide additional context around the scope and complexity of the site you’re hoping to build, before you invest any effort (or money) in choosing a platform, and deciding whether or not to do it yourself.

After running through this sketching exercise, we knew that we wanted to build a pretty straightforward marketing website with only a dozen or so key pages. There wasn’t anything that seemed overly complex or out of our abilities, so we never really felt like hiring someone to build it. Additionally, we’re a lean startup so every dollar counts, and we felt that by building it ourselves, we’d maintain the highest level of control over the eventual output.

If you find that you get stuck on a certain task, or can't figure out how to do something, it would be very valuable to hire a developer who specializes in the platform and have them help you for a few hours. For a couple of hundred dollars, you will save tons of hours of work (and your sanity).  - Rally & Henry

Last edited @ Sep 4, 1:42PM EDT.
Sep 4, 1:42PM EDT0
What element did you find were important to incorporate in your company’s website that weren’t there before?
Sep 3, 10:45PM EDT0

There were a couple elements we didn’t have before, but a big driver of the site redesign was to reposition existing content in a more prominent way. After using Hotjar to monitor how visitors were interacting with our old website, we realized that the previous homepage wasn’t providing much value. Our visitors wanted to get more info about the specific cloud apps that Rewind backs up. So, with that in mind, we made sure to prominently feature links to the product-specific pages on our new homepage.

That said, we did add some new elements, most importantly our reviews section. Rewind is an app that provides peace of mind to users, and our 5-star rating across hundreds of reviews on various platforms carries a lot of weight to people who are considering us. So we set Yotpo to aggregate all the reviews we have on multiple app stores into one page. - Henry

Last edited @ Sep 4, 1:46PM EDT.
Sep 4, 1:45PM EDT0
What were a few problems you ran into right before the launch of the company website? How were you able to fix these problems in time?
Sep 3, 9:40PM EDT0

Our old blog was hosted on Hubspot and we wanted to migrate that content to Wordpress. We thought this would be easy to do using a plugin, but there's really nothing available (great opportunity for a developer to build it). So we had to hire someone to help migrate that content. We also had issues going live since right before launching we found out that we had to switch to a self-hosted Wordpress account since the domain is linked to our app as well.

Sep 4, 3:20PM EDT0
What type of deadline were your facing to build the website and launch it? How successful has the launch of your website been?
Sep 3, 10:17AM EDT0

We were facing a pretty specific deadline, as we’d made the decision to move our blog away from an external solution (HubSpot) into a WordPress ecosystem before our Hubspot subscription was due to renew. That gave us just over a month to relaunch.

It’s only been live for a month and a bit at this point, but we’re really happy with how the new site launch has gone, for a variety of reasons. Some examples:

Social proof: By highlighting prominent brands and review on our homepage, we’ve seen an increase in the quality of Enterprise customers/agencies who are reaching out to us.

SEO: Relaunching the site allowed us to take a step back and examine our previous site and URL structure.

Website engagement: We used heatmaps by Hotjar to compare engagement on our old home page to our new one (where people are clicking, how far they are scrolling down the page, etc.). We now see a lot more engagement on that page and less bounce rate.

Sep 4, 3:14PM EDT0
In order to rebuild the website what did you have to spend the money on? How important are these items in building a website?
Sep 2, 7:15PM EDT0

The basics you need to spend money on are: a domain with SSL certificate, hosting, subscription for the CMS you are using, and a theme. These things are pretty much non-negotiable and worth spending money on. 

Other things you can budget for are purchasing stock photos or getting professionals photos taken, buying a premium font, hiring a designer to create some icons or other images, etc. These are great to have and will help to build your brand, but they are not essential when you are just starting out. 

Sep 4, 1:50PM EDT52
How has your marketing knowledge helped with ideas on how the website should look, and how it functions?
Aug 30, 8:20AM EDT0

Naturally, our marketing knowledge was paramount in how we built this website. For instance, conversion rate optimization (CRO) is a fundamental marketing discipline that helped inform the eventual look and functionality of the website.

Sep 4, 3:05PM EDT0
What jobs do you guys have on the Marketing team at Rewind? What do you do with those jobs?
Aug 29, 4:21PM EDT0

Right now, we are the entire marketing department! Rally was the first marketing hire at Rewind and started as the Head of Marketing (basically doing everything). Around a year later, Henry joined the team as the Digital Marketing Manager, focusing on website analytics, email campaigns, SEO, and customer funnels. With Henry on board, I (Rally) focus more of my time on partnerships, business development, content, branding, etc. 

As startup marketers, we wear many hats and frequently collaborate with each other, and work on projects or tasks that are outside of our specific job description/title. You won't hear anyone at Rewind say "that's not my job". 

- Rally & Henry

Sep 4, 1:54PM EDT0
How did building a website bring you together as a team? What did you learn about each other?
Aug 28, 3:58PM EDT0

As a small team, we work closely together on pretty much all projects. It's also nice that we have very different skills, so we are both able to bring our expertise to the table. 

Sep 4, 3:16PM EDT0
What are a few important skills to have before tackling a project like building a website?
Aug 27, 9:28PM EDT0

It might go without saying, but basic web and computer literacy is a must. After that, it depends on the size and complexity of the site you’re looking to build, as DIY website builder platforms can make it really quick and easy to get a simple site online.

A few other skills that are valuable to have even a basic knowledge of include: HTML/CSS, SEO basics, and web design (images, colours). - Henry

Sep 4, 3:00PM EDT0
What is the best part to start when trying to redesign a website?
Aug 26, 9:02PM EDT0

Your first step when redesigning a website should be to sit down and sketch out a rough sitemap, before you spend any time on your computer trying to design or populate content. This exercise will be invaluable for a variety of reasons. It helps provide context for any team members you might be working with, is great at surfacing potential issues (ie. things that are too complex for you to do), and will help you determine what platform or host to choose. - Henry

Sep 4, 3:10PM EDT0
I am at the point of not liking any of the templates websites offer, and want my own individual style for my website. At this point should I hire a developer or is there still a way to do it myself? If so what tips do you have to get started?
Aug 26, 6:55PM EDT0

The site builder you choose will greatly determine how much flexibility you have with the design. Squarespace, for instance, is easy to set up but limited in terms of customization. Wordpress and Pagecloud, on the other hand, offer almost endless ability to customize.

The second thing to keep in mind is the customization and flexibility of the theme you pick. We've both worked with Wordpress themes that were frustrating to customize. But using the Divi theme, I don't think our website looks like any other website also built on Divi.

The last thing to keep in mind is how complex your website really needs to be. It's easy to get caught up in wanting a beautifully designed and animated website which require a ton of development work. But in many cases, a simple website will do the job just fine.

I can't say if you should hire a developer or not. Maybe you can complete 80% of the website and just need a bit of help from a developer on the rest. Or maybe you have the budget for a full site design and want to save yourself the frustration. In that case, hire a pro. 👍 - Rally

Sep 4, 2:59PM EDT0
Do you have a preferred platform to find tutorials for web resources? Which one is it and why is it your favorite?
Aug 25, 10:57PM EDT0

There are tons of free and paid resources online. Here are the top ones that we use:

Sep 4, 2:44PM EDT0
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