If you consider launching a web page or any kind of online service you need to be aware of several topics that could hurt you in the long run. They are mainly related to legal and compliance topics and are usually not in front of your mind when you work on your exciting new project. Unfortunately, those things have to be considered and taken care of as you otherwise might run into lawsuits or simply penalties for failing to adhere to the regulation.
Private websites with a non-commercial purpose do require less strict adherence. That being said even in this case you should check your countries regulation. As the scope of this entry is to cover websites with commercial purposes or web services I will not elaborate further on private websites.
Legal & compliance
Every country has its specific regulations. If you create a page or service related to your business then you usually need to adhere to the regulations of the country in which your business is registered. So if your business is located in Germany then your page needs to adhere to the requirements of the German law and compliance rules. The same goes for other countries such as the US. In some cases, if there is no registered business behind the page, it is sufficient to adhere to the rules of the country in which your page is hosted.
If your page or service is reachable from the EU you need to ensure that you follow GDPR (Global Data Protection Regulation).
To get more concrete you need to ensure that your page contains information about:
- How is data collected
- To whom is data sent
- Legal Disclosure (e.g. Impressum in German)
- Containing information about who is running the page and how to contact the operator/owner
- Terms and conditions (if you have a service which is consumed and especially if you charge for it)
When it comes to formulating those it is usually recommended to do this via a lawyer to avoid missing something critical. Competitors can use gaps in your legal compliance to make you pay high fees. If you are a small business you can start on your own in the beginning as long as you are thorough with your analysis. You can also use generators to generate default text. You will find several on the web. Once you grow you will get more attention, this is the time when you should get your pages checked by a professional.
In the context of unsexy things to consider we also need to look at some technical aspects. If you are like me then most of the technical stuff is sexy and interesting. However, when it comes to cookie tracking popups, email integration, payment provider integration or selecting the right platform for affiliate links then this is for me the opposite.
So depending on what you offer or where you offer your service you need to ensure that you know how to handle those topics:
Hosting and Plattform
When it comes to technical topics the decision on what platform your page is based and also where it is hosted, is the first decision to make. This is a big topic and for this, I will write a dedicated article.
However to not leave you blank here some general guidance:
The first step is to become clear about your use case!
If you mainly want to blog and have a low budget then start with free software such as WordPress or wordpress.com (WordPress as a service):
- You will find many hosters that offer 1 click WordPress installations. Here you have full access to your WordPress and can extend it easily. This of course also requires that you familiarize yourself with the software. This blog is powered by a WordPress installation.
- WordPress is widely used and you can easily extend it.
In case you require a shop I would recommend Shopify. It is easy to use and powerful. It also contains a blog component. However, depending on your requirements you might need a lot of additional plugins which usually cost additional money. You can build a shop on WordPress as well via the free woocommerce plugin. This is, however, a bit more complex and required you to understand what you are doing.
Own developments might be required for some pages and services. You can request people to build those pages, however, be aware that such projects can get quite costly. One of the main disadvantages is as well that you cannot easily change your page if you do not build it on your own.
Cookie enablement and disablement (allowing for data collection or tracking)
Even today email is one of the best ways to grow your audience and business. So start as soon as possible with it.
In order to start, you need to decide on a proper email platform. I use Mailchimp (https://mailchimp.com/) as I like the service. They are also one of the well-established brands out there.
Should you build your own web service and need to sent emails programmatically as part of your program logic then I would recommend going for an own email server or mail server offering. In many cases, this is already included if you have hosting somewhere. You need to carefully check what your requirements are. You could even start with a Gmail account but there are hard limits about the number of emails you can send in one day.
Payment provider integration
In case you offer wares, services or other billable items then you need to usually build up a shop. This also requires you to integrate a payment provider. Depending on your use case this can get quite complicated and choosing the right provider is not easy.
The ones I most commonly use are Paypal https://www.paypal.com/ and Stripe https://stripe.com/(mainly for credit cards). If you have to implement it on your own, then I would definitely recommend Stripe. They have the best documentation and are really easy to integrate. Paypal is well documented as well but is also more complex during the implementation phase.
To commercialize your blog or any page you have affiliate links are usually a good method. Fortunately or unfortunately there are thousands of possibilities out there that could be utilized. Not all of them will be right for you.
The bigger affiliate offers require a certain amount of minimum traffic or payout amount, therefore you need to check if you would qualify
Amazon’s affiliate is probably the most known. Amazon is well trusted and people are likely to click on the link. The biggest problem I have with this is that you have to register as a partner per country. This means you also get affiliate links that are only working for this specific country. To solve this you need to create partner accounts for all the countries in order to be on the safe side. This brings me then to the next issue, if you receive too little traffic for a partner account for a specific country you will be thrown out of it after 60 days. To sum this up if you have a lot of traffic and know where most of your audience is coming from then use amazon affiliate (for usa: https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/).
Once you created those accounts you can also create one link which will then ensure the user is forwarded to the right country. The configuration is a bit complex, therefore, I will write a separate article to explain how to set this up.
There are also other affiliate programs which offer quite high return rates (especially in the area of infomercials). They offer you up to 100 % of the price. In case you have a blog or serious side you need to be very careful if you decide on such a program. Your readers trust you and if you recommend low quality or bad products the credibility will go down and you will lose readers in the long run. I am not saying those programs are bad. In fact, I think some are really great as the hurdle for newcomers is really low and the commissions are very good. However please test the products first before you sell them. Don’t sell crap you would not want to buy. One of the platforms offering such affiliate links is https://www.clickbank.com/ . It is quite well known and has a good reputation. The best part is that it is easy to use and you do not have minimum requirements to fulfill. This is probably the easiest way to start. However as said before select your products carefully.
I hope this article was helpful. Let me know if you encounter things during the launch of your website which you felt were utterly unsexy!