Building a website is just like building a house. Sure, you could turn up with a ton of bricks, get stuck in with a shovel and hope for the best, but you should probably think things through a bit before you start.
We’ve worked with loads of small businesses, helping them to launch their first, or thoroughly revamped websites. Here are a few of the things we find it’s helpful to think to make the design process nice and easy.
1. Loads of content
This is true of pretty much any project we work on, but it’s especially true for websites. Getting all the written words down, on a page, in a document and signed off has simply got to be done before construction starts. If you put copy into the website, then start jigging things around it is going to take much, much longer (and probably cost more money) to get things wrapped up.
What can you do? Write your USPs, your company’s “about us”, opening hours and contact details. Write as much as you possibly can about your products and services. If you’re web designer who also provides a copywriting service, then take advantage of this valuable skill. It’s surprisingly tricky to write engaging, relevant persuasive copy. Nothing turns off visitors more than sloppy spelling and grammar. It often takes a little back and forth to hone pieces of writing to absolute perfection, so get this time consuming process started well in advance of actually building the site.
Creating and gathering content is probably the most important thing to get right before you start building your website. A lot of people can be involved, but this is what can make the difference between a good website, and a great one.
2. Choose your target audience
If you are struggling to write anything about your business, you may need to spend a bit of time thinking about who your website should be targeting. If you don’t have an audience in mind, how can you make a website that shows how your products and services are great for them? It may take a little digging to get to the bottom of why someone should become a one of your customers, but this of course has to be at the heart of any marketing exercise. It’s often overlooked until rather late on in the process.
3. Pick some pictures
As well as written content, your website will most likely need a few pretty pictures. Most web design these days is very visual, so you will need some high resolution, professional images. Many web users have high resolution screens, even phones can be thousands of pixels across, so make sure any existing images are up to spec.
4. Create a design brief
You don’t need to have a degree in design to have some serious input in your website design. Having a rough idea of what you do and don’t like in a website will give your web design team valuable guidance and really help them build something you’ll be super happy with. Do some research, have a look at your competition, have a look at the leaders in your industry, pick your favourite website of all time from a completely different industry. All you have to do is jot down a few thoughts on what you do or don’t like: think a certain website is a bit too cluttered? Point this out. Think your existing website has a slightly dated colour scheme? Tell your designer!
5. Access to your domain
Your domain name is your website’s address, normally something along the lines of “mybusiness.co.uk”. If you don’t have one already, you should really think about purchasing one. You can normally get one for around £10 a year, although many of the best may be taken.
If you already have a domain name, you still need to have access to it, especially if you are changing hosting for your new website. You may have to do a little digging to work out who has access to your domain registrar and therefore who can log in and make sure all the DNS settings are up to date.
6. Access to your hosting
On the subject of domain names, have a think about your hosting. Not all hosting is equal. Some are faster, some are slower, some are more reliable, others have a habit of going down at random, and other are worryingly insecure. These factors can all have a big impact on your website ranking performance, and therefore how many sales it generates, it’s worth making sure your hosting is up to speed. Of course if your web design team is taking anything off your old website, they may well need access to various parts of your existing website or even the hosting directly. Ask around to see who has FTP access, so that your web design team can have a look behind the scenes of your existing site and get the new one launched when the time comes.
7. A little bit of data
If your new website isn’t going to be a step forward and attract more business, what’s the point? A great way to get a real picture of what’s going on is to check if Google Analytics is installed on your website already. If you haven’t had a look in a while, dust off your login details and have a look at roughly how many visitors you are getting and how many of them go on to become customers. When the new website is launched, you can then look back at this data.
8. A long term plan
So what exactly are you going to do with your brand spanking new website once it’s been launched? Just sit back and admire it? While that would be fun, it’s not going to create much of an increase in traffic. To generate leads and sales you are going to need to make sure that your website performs well in search rankings. Here at Alloy, we aren’t sort of people who build you a stunning new site, only to pat you on the back and send you on your way, we can help you start putting it to use. We create and implement SEO strategies for a range of small businesses, an essential form of marketing in the digital age.
Whatever stage your at, we’d love to help you take your business to the next level. If you’d like a chat with our friendly web design or SEO team, get in touch today!