Have you wanted to build a new website but not sure how to get started? Or you hired a web team or developer to get your site done and want to make sure you will be happy with the results? Everybody has their style or approach. Some people are design oriented, others are content driven while others just start throwing things together to see what works. The following is an overview of our basic steps to build a new website with a web development team. When we work on a new website, we start with a questionnaire which helps both the website owner and the development team to understand or define what is wanted. This will help clear up many typical questions that come up in any website project. The following are the steps we follow when building a new website.
1) Website Questionnaire
We attempt to find out what the website goals are. We start by defining what company is this for and what domain will be used for the site. We then need to understand what the company does or offer. If there is any existing website, we will take a look and see what works and what doesn’t. We also try to evaluate competitors if any. It is also important to decide if this website will be a single page or a traditional multi-page website. You also need to define who is the demographic for the site: individuals, businesses, enterprises, etc.
This is a major decision point, where will the website design come from? Some people have in-house designers or a trusted design resource with web experience that will be able to design the entire look and feel and customer experience. Other companies have a design idea based on other sites (possibly competitors) while others have no idea where to start and don’t have a design budget. We recommend developing new websites in WordPress which is a popular CMS tool that allows website owners to manage their content, you can read more about WordPress here. To keep costs down and decrease implementation time, we take one of the following approaches to handle design in WordPress:
Owner has a design or reference website to follow:
There is a popular versatile WordPress theme called Divi which offers a visually user friendly interface to convert your design into reality. Our developer team will proceed to implement the provided design using Divi and tweak as needed until the owner is happy.
Owner has no idea where to start:
There are thousands of mobile ready WordPress themes readily available for purchase and sometimes available for free. Based on the client’s industry and reference websites our team will look for certain themes that match the criteria, select up to 5 themes and send them to the client. We make sure the site works on mobile devices and looks good, we try to find designs that look more current based on trends. Once a design is selected, we then have a session with the client to define what should be changed to make the theme “just right”.
3) Content Strategy
This is probably one of the most overlooked steps in building a new website. Many business owners focus more on the design than that actual content. You may have seen many sites with the traditional “Home, About Us, Products, Contact Us” navigation scheme. It is important to understand how Search Engine Optimization (SEO) works (Google it). It is critical that the navigation scheme is easy to use, highlights your main products and services. This makes it easier for visitors to get to the information they need right away. For SEO purposes, content is king, you should have one dedicated page per product or service. A blog section is also useful, it allows site owners a way to keep posting more relevant content targeted at search terms/keywords without bloating up the site with too many pages. Also overlooked is the home page. If the home page does not properly and quickly show what the business offers without the need for scrolling then it less likely that visitors will be engaged. So before coding/creating new pages, our team works on a content strategy with the client.
4) Add Content and Images
This is where many website projects slow down or fail. Unless the site owner has a budget to hire content writers, the owner will have to write or provide all the content and procure good images that go with the content. Web developers are not known for writing content, and the business owner is the person that best knows what the company does and what people are looking for when using their products and services. When we work on website projects, we review the provided content, and give recommendations and feedback based on best practices and SEO strategies. Also important is where the images are coming from. You can’t just google for images and then just download them and add to the site. You need to make sure the images are allowed to be used on other sites, or if you are buying stock images, make sure they’re royalty free and can be used as many times as needed on your site.
5) Review and Approve
Don’t be afraid to send feedback and corrections to the web team. Each page will typically go through 1 to 3 revisions until the owner is happy with it. The home page may take even more revisions. When you work with a developer, make sure it is clear how many revisions you get per page and how flexible they are. Approve each page individually before you launch the site. Once you are happy with the site, go head and setup a launch plan. This is specially important if you already have a site, you want a plan that minimizes down time and also make sure any existing URLs/links continue to work or redirect to the equivalent page on the new site.
Most of our sites are done in WordPress which allows site owners to manage their own content. It is important to us that each client knows how to edit their site, so after launch, we make sure a training session is provided. We make sure they know how to log in the web management tool, how to find a page to edit, how to make edits, publish changes, roll back changes, how to add blog posts and more. We also make sure the client is educated on the need to make sure the website is properly maintained and updated when new WordPress security upgrades or plugins are available.
I hope you find this article useful for when you decide to build a new website. These steps should make it easier for you to have a proper plan. If you need help or want to get started, fill out our questionnaire with no obligation!