Keeping it simple when designing your first website
The concept of designing a website can be a very daunting process, however where to start is not something to agonise over. Website Design can be simplified by taking the following five steps. If followed you should be able to design your first website simply and stress free.
Step One: Why a website?
Decide why it is you want a website. Surprisingly most first time clients when queried cannot answer this question. Understanding why it is you want a website, will help you through the development steps and steer you in the direction that you need to take.
The most common reasons why a client wants a website are the following
- Marketing – Getting your name out there for potential clients searching the net to find your business and products.
- Business information – Your clients already know your business and its products, you’re more interested in having a website that tells them who you are, how to find you and your company history.
- Online shopping – Giving your clients another option for purchasing, potentially opening your business up to clients who may not have access to your business in the past due to geographic restrictions.
- Because the competition has one – Although this is a good reason, it’s important to still decide from the above points which type of website you want.
Step Two: Look at your competition
If your competition already has a website, it will pay to look at it and review the page content, decide what you like and dislike about the page. Ensure you take note of all of the information you gain from doing this as it will help your web developer to build the website that you want.
Although plagiarism is the ultimate compliment, you should never copy or clone a competitors website, instead, look at their website and consider the following:
- Content – Do you understand the content of the website? Is it to the point? If you were a client would you find what you’re looking for?
- Colours – Are the colours of the site appealing to the eye?
- Font – Is the font easy to read?
- Navigation – Is it easy to navigate?
- What pages does your competition have? Would you add or remove some?
Step Three: Decide on the pages and content
Decide on what pages you want on your website. Most basic websites consist of a Home Page, About Us and Contact Us. Other pages that can be considered are Shopping Carts, Photo Galleries and Resources.
The content is also important to have drafted before contacting a web developer. It’s not always vital to have finalised prior to choosing your developer, however having a draft of the content will expedite the go live date of your website, drafted content will also give your web developer an understanding of your business. Web developers can also provide you with ways to improve your content to allow search engines such as Google to find your business. See Search Engine Optimisation
Decide on images that you want on your website. Some businesses chose to utilise their own images to personalise the site, others will utilise stock photos. Both have pros and cons depending on the type of website and clients you are pursuing.
If you chose to utilise the services of a graphic designer for website content, discuss this with your selected website developer. What many clients are unaware of is there are restrictions on the size and resolution of images on the web. Some developers will refer you to preferred graphic designers who already have an understanding of what is required of them as part of a website. They also may be a lot cheaper due to the amount of business generated by the web developer.
Decide on if you wish to update the content of the website, or if this will be managed by the web developer. If something simple changes such as your postal address or staff member name. Do you wish to update this yourself, or would you prefer to contact the web developer at a cost to do this on your behalf? See Website Maintenance
Step Four: Set realistic timelines and budget
Have realistic timelines set for your website milestones and go live date. Also understand that a milestone being missed may result in your website release being delayed. It would also help to discuss with your chosen web developer what action they take when a milestone is missed. Will he/she continue with development without the information, or will the process stall? Some developers will also continue to charge for costs until a milestone is met, ensure there are no surprises such as this.
Have a budget set for your website. A lot of businesses believe that a website can be an expensive product however this is not always the case. Many developers already have templates built which need only to have your content added. The cost of using a template website is minimal and for some clients free, as the developer gains more from the regular income of hosting fees than the initial development. Large costs are incurred for websites when they need to be built from scratch due to the uniqueness of what is require by the client.
Step Five: Research Web Developers
Research web developers on the market and check out their client’s websites, just as you would have done with your own competition’s website. Note however that a poor website may not be a reflection of the web developer but the result of a client’s poor planning.
Create a shortlist of developers and speak to them about their business and what the product it is that you want. It is at this point that you may go back to the beginning of step one and start the process all over again after the website developer has given you more to think about.
It is very important not to be intimidated or confused by the website developer. If they use terms that you are not sure of, don’t be afraid to ask them to clarify. The relationship you build with a web developer will continue for the life of your website, if you feel uncomfortable or confused by the information they are providing you with initially, it will only continue into the future.
Finally, ask questions about ongoing costs such as web hosting, support and future development to the web page.
Ultimately you are the client and the client is always right. Going through the above five steps will help you get your first website online simply and without a break down. If the task becomes too difficult ask yourself question one again to get back ‘on track’. Click on the following link for a Free Website Design Consultation or call 1300 628 437.