Whether you are developing a website yourself or seeking someone else to do it for you, a little preparation will go a long way in getting it done faster and cheaper. Here are ten things you should do before commencing the web development stage.
1. Think about your website from a number of perspectives. What extra can you offer existing customers to increase their loyalty? What “call to action” can put in place to convert visitors into customers? How can you use the website to your advantage to streamline business processes?
2. What technical functionality do you need which is beyond the norm? A product catalogue? A booking form? A quote calculator? Integraion with Facebook or Twitter? Choose what you think will be beneficial and prioritise them by how much value they will add. Give some thought to how these features will work and document this to the best of your ability. If you don’t think you can afford a bit of functionality at launch, let the developer know it may be a future requirement as this might impact the choice of content management system (CMS).
3. Register a domain name. Check availability using register.com or a similar service. You can register a domain using any registrar and easy transfer it at a future date. Typcially most domain suffixes (e.g. .com, .co.uk, .net) are available for around £10 per annum. Consider whether you should buy multiple geographic suffixes (.ie, .fr, .it) if you are planning to target different geographic locations. It’s also a good idea to register the domain for a long period of time (around 5 years) to show Google that you’re here to stay.
4. Draw an organisational diagram of how you want the website to be structured in terms of categories of pages. Think about the main menu system displayed accross the site and the sub menus under these. Having a good structure will make your website easy to navigate as well as improve search engine friendliness. A good tool for creating sitemaps can be found at writemaps.com
5. Start writting content for the website. Break this down into the pages identified in the step above. Put a unique title to each page and try to break the content down into readable chunks with headings where possible. Have this available in Word documents with easily identifiable file names. Also give some thought to how and when the website will be updated. If you decide on having a blog or latest news section decide on a timetable for new content.
6. Prepare some images for the website. If you need photographs of yourself, your team, your products or business premises then get these done. Think about the type of stock images you need and see what you can find on Google images, Stock Image Exchange and iStockPhoto. Have you got all company artwork such as logos available in a suitable file format.
7. Give some thought to the layout and design you are looking for. Have some examples of websites you like and what about them you want to imitate.
8. Consider the search engine terms that potential customers might use to arrive at your site. Where possible think about how you can incorporate these into your page titles and content without impacting readability. See the Beginners guide to keyword research.
9. Put your requirements together in a short specification document for the web designers/developers that you wish to request a quote from. Let them know the preparation you have undertaken as this will lead to a smoother work flow for which they may provide a reduced quote. See Writing a brief for a website.
10. Start looking for potential designers/developers by searching Google and asking for recommendations from friends and business acquaintances. Take a look at the footer of websites you like to see if there is a link to the developer’s own website. Check the portfolios of shortlisted developers and identify the site designs you like. See How to find a good web developer
You should also consider other SEO factors when developing your website, but rather than me going into detail about this take a look at the great video below;
Good luck with your new website! If there is anything you think is missing then please add it in the comments below.