So you have a great idea for a new website. That’s fantastic.However, there’s huge gap between getting an idea down on paper and getting your site up and running.It’s not a massively complicated process but it does take time and effort and if you try to cut corners you’ll pay for it in the long run.The most important thing to do is to think it through and come up with a game-plan.You need to have a solid idea of all the steps you will take along the way before you even start work on building your new website.Don’t forget about the content either, as it’s one of the most important parts of any website.Think about who will be visiting your site and what type of information they’ll be looking for.Once you’ve figured that out, it will be easier to design a website which will suit your audience.
License: Creative Commons image source
From idea to concept
When you start a website, whether it’s personal or business, the process is the same.You start off with an idea and then brainstorm the concept of your new site.This idea can be a really cool domain name that you’ve been able to buy, or something more pragmatic like a way to sell your product online.The best way to transform your initial idea into a concept for a website is to jot down your thoughts on what you want your site to look like, and what you want to be on there.Make a note of the type of content you will be generating, the colours you’d like to use on your site, what kind of features you’d like to add such as image or video galleries and so on.Writing down your thoughts will help you visualise your idea and will also keep you focused on what needs to be done.
Here are a few things to consider:
- What kind of website (or business) is it?
- Who are your potential customers?
- Will you be managing the site yourself?
- Will you need outside help (web designers, programmers, SEO consultants, etc) to design and develop your site?
- Will you be selling a product or a service (e-shop) or will this be an informational site (portfolio, news site, etc)?
- How much time will you be able to put towards this new project?
- Who are your competitors? How can you stand out from the crowd?
- Is this a personal project or will this be your source of income?
The above is not a test. There are not right and wrong answers but you shouldn’t start building a site before you are able to answer them all as they will help you to better understand what it is that you’re looking to create.
Features and specifics of your website
Now that your idea is staring to shape up, move on to the features and functionality you want your new site to have.This is particularly important because it’s where you get to determine how you’ll be engaging with your visitors.
Here are a few things to consider:
- What are your “must have” features – the things your site needs to have so it can do what you want?
- What are your “wish list” features – things that are not required but that would be nice to have?
- Do you need any form of e-commerce like your own storefront or “buy buttons” for third party purchasing?
- How will you make sure people visiting the site on a mobile device will have a good experience?
Remember, usability and high-quality content are much more important than fancy design elements which can lead to confusing navigation.You don’t want your site to be a maze because no one will bother finding their way around. If it’s too complicated, they’ll leave and they won’t come back any time soon.
Keywords are key
Search engine optimisation is vital for any new website.Publishing awesome content on your site is great but if you don’t also take care of the optimisation part, no one will get to enjoy what you’re offering.So as part of the planning process, come up with a list of keywords that you believe people will use to find your site in a search engine.You can use Google’s Keywords Tool for more accurate recommendations.When you’re preparing the text for your web pages, make sure to use your main keyword in the important parts of the page – namely the title, subtitles, first paragraph and last paragraph.Don’t forget to also include it in the meta title and meta description of your page.If you’re confused by SEO, you should read around the subject to learn the basics as this will come in handy in the future.
The technical stuff
Here are a few things to consider when building your site:
- Where will you host your new site? Do your homework and go with the most reliable hosting provider you can find
- How often will you have to update the site and what kinds of updates will it require?
- Who will perform updates and maintenance? Will you need assistance with this?
- Does your domain registrar also offering hosting and site maintenance? If it’s affordable, then go for it, as it can make things easier
Must include website content
Here’s a list of things every business site must have -
- Your company logo
- An “about us” page with a brief description about you and your business
- Descriptions of your product(s) or services, plus prices and photos
- Your credentials, so things like experience in your field, accomplishments, experiences and projects on which you’ve worked
- A contact page including phone number, email address, mailing address, and physical location
- Testimonials from previous customers, if possible. This is a great way of letting people know the quality of service you provide
Putting it all together
Once you’ve got a firm idea of what you want the site to look like, and what information it will contain, you can start the actual process of building a site.Whether you end up designing it yourself, or are employing someone to do it for you, the careful planning you have carried out will mean you are more likely to have a finished product which suits your needs.You can’t leave anything to chance when it comes to planning a website and if you do, you’re likely to end up with something that doesn’t work the way you want it to – a costly mistake to make.