Are You Ready for a New Website or a Redesign?
Whether you’re redesigning your existing website or about to launch your first site, it helps the design process if you know what you’re trying to achieve with your site before you begin your project. Knowing what you want beforehand also helps to avoid “scope creep” so that you stay on budget and on schedule.
Here are the 12 basic things to place on your To Do list, along with 7 additional points to consider, before you develop your website.
1. Selecting Your Domain Name
Choose an appropriate name that can be easily remembered (and repeated) and decide whether you will use .com, .net, .org, or something else. Once you’ve decided on your domain name be sure to purchase all other available extensions along with variations of the spelling of your domain name so that it cannot be used by anyone else.
2. Selecting a Web Hosting Company
Choose a reliable one.
As a sidebar: There’s really no such thing as a “Free Website” so don’t build your brand on a website that you don’t actually own (you’re paying “monthly rent” to places like Wix and Web), or on a free blog site such as Tumblr, Blogger and WordPress.com.
3. What is the purpose of your website?
Do you want a business site, a personal site, an e-commerce site? Do you want a blog included?
Consider whether or not you want a Content Management System (CMS) such as WordPress, or if you want a static HTML5 / CSS site.
When you’re making this choice, factor in the maintenance and upkeep of the site. Once your site is live on the internet you can’t just ignore it. Technology constantly changes and websites can look antiquated in a short period of time. If you’re going to be using WordPress you will need to keep the core files and your plugins upgraded. WordPress sites can require more frequent updates/upgrades since the program is constantly being brought up to current standards.
5. Layout, Design, Color
A clean layout is always preferred. Don’t put anything on your site that does not need to be there and/or serves no purposes (i.e. your favorite pet photos, or any other non-related images). Make sure that someone with visual disabilities can read your content — clear contrast between font and background color. Color affects the “feel” of your site.
Provide quality, informative content to your audience first and foremost, and also for Search Engine Optimization. In addition to the main content on your site also consider having a business blog.
Make your Call-to-Action (CTA) buttons eye-catching, and make sure they look like buttons that can be clicked.
8. Make Your Site Mobile Responsive
A bad mobile site means fewer search rankings. Any business that does not have a mobile responsive website is missing out on one of the most powerful marketing tools available to them. Mobile marketing stats show that consumers are more likely to purchase from a mobile optimized website and will move on to a competitor’s site if your site is providing a bad mobile experience.
9. Easy Navigation
If possible, make everything on your site just one click away.
10. Keeping Your Site Fresh
Plan ahead for who will be doing the maintenance on your site, making sure that it’s kept up-to-date and adding new content.
There are benefits to having a business blog. If you decide to have a blog on your site do not let it go unattended and ignored. You can choose to have comments turned off, or you can use your blog to interact with your audience. Be sure to post on a regular basis!
12. Social Media
Decide which platform(s) will work best for you and your business. Contrary to popular opinion, you do not need to use ALL of them. By way of example: Just because Facebook has billions of members doesn’t mean that you must be one of them. Also consider that Facebook is not at all Small Business Friendly. Unless you’re going to be paying to have your posts show up in the feeds, approximately on 2% (if that much) of your Likes will ever get to see what you’re posting.
Keeping your social sites up-to-date takes a lot of work and effort to build a worthwhile following. Note: Don’t buy Twitter Followers or Facebook Likes.
Other Points to Consider
- Do you have a slogan or tagline that clearly describes what you offer in terms of benefits or features?
- What is your budget for this project?
- What is your deadline for completing the site?
- Have you researched your online competition so you have an idea of what you do and/or do not want on your site?
- Where is the website content coming from?
- Who’s responsible for updating the content and site? Content plays a major role in SEO and page rank. If you don’t already have your content, or if you feel you’re not skilled at writing your content, or even if you lack the time to write the content, team up with someone who is skilled in writing web content.
- What words or phrases would you use to find your site? Which of these words or phrases is most important? Second? Third? Come up with a reasonable list – say, 5 to 7 terms; not a long laundry list. And most importantly, make sure your keywords and phrases are relevant to the content that’s actually on the page.
Once your website is launched, don’t ignore it! Especially if it’s a WordPress site. Keep it looking fresh and up-to-date.