To create a successful website, there are many things to consider in order for things to run smoothly, get the most out of your website and optimize your web presence. Before building your site or getting a designer to build it, you have to make sure you plan it properly, poor planning of a website will only cost you time, money and a lot of frustration.
Not only does your website have to look aesthetically pleasing, it must function properly, be easy to use, quick to load, built correctly using good coding techniques and have reliable hosting. Below are 10 important things to consider before creating your website.
1. Think about the aims of your website and what you hope to achieve from it. Is the main aim to sell items from your physical shop or strictly from your online store or maybe promoting both? Is it’s main aim to inform people? Is it to get visitor information? Think about this carefully as this ultimate goal will determine all other decisions when creating your website.
2. Make sure you know your target market. Decide on this at an early stage as it will affect your design, content, SEO (search engine optimization) and functionality. Everything revolves around feeding your information to your target market in the correct way.
3. Create a design style or theme for your website. The design should support the purpose of your website and portray the right information to your target market in a way that is easily understood. Create a design theme that is functional so that it’s easy to navigate around the site. Try to enhance your corporate image throughout design and content, this will support how your business works and give confidence to your potential customers. At this point you should decide whether or not you wish to control and update your site through a CMS system (content management system) yourself or build a static site and get someone else to do it. The initial cost for a CMS site will be more expensive but it can save you a lot of money in the long run as you will not have recurring maintenance costs for adding pages and content updates for example.
4. Find out the overall cost of getting your website up and running? Will you maintain it through CMS (content management system) yourself? will you get someone else to maintain it, if so how much will their services cost per month? Remember in the long term, the site should be cost effective and not cost you money. At this stage it is a good idea to start looking into what type of web hosting plan will suit your needs and find out how much will it cost to host your website.
5. Find out how long it will take to build your website? Give your preparation work to your designer and make sure your designer has all the content they need. If you are having a static site built, find out how long typical changes will take them after the site has been built such as adding pages, text amends, adding content and how much they will cost. If you are having a CMS site ask the designer if the CMS has any restrictions i.e find out what areas are changeable and what areas are not, can i add pages and pictures etc.
6. Choose a good domain name. Take your time when choosing your domain name. The shorter the domain the better, make sure it is easy to remember and that it has at least one keyword telling people what they can expect from your website. Having keywords in your domain name will help with your SEO when your site goes onto the search engines. You can search for and buy domain names from most reputable web hosting companies.
7. Find a reliable Web Host. Basically a web host is the company who’s servers will house the files to your website and put your website online. Try to do as much research as possible as there are a lot of web hosting companies out there, some are really good while others aren’t so good. It’s a good idea to check reviews and testimonials to find out the experiences other people have had. The next thing to consider is what hosting package your website and company needs, how much bandwidth and web space you require, how many email accounts you need, what programming software they offer, what security they have and is it good enough, what level of customer support they offer and of course how much, most web hosts will have the option to pay monthly or yearly. Remember cheapest is not always best.
8. Choose a designer to design your website. You will need your website designer for ongoing work in the future so having a good relationship really helps things along, choose wisely and make sure you get the right person. Look at examples of their work and current projects, find out their overall design experience and capabilities.
9. Think about keywords, description and meta data to implement into your site. Your designer should be able to help you with this and point you in the right direction. During the planning of your site, do some research into the keywords that people generally type into the search engines to find your kind of services and products. Knowing this information is vital so you can provide the necessary optimized tags and content as the website is being built, this will help your website be found on the search engines by your target market.
10. Getting on the Search engines is a must and making your site search engine friendly is vital. Make sure your designer practices good industry W3C techniques and you shouldn’t have any problems. Find out what you will need to do to make your new website show up favorably in search engine results? How much SEO work will need to be done, different keywords are more competed for than others so the more competition you have the more SEO work will be needed. Think about the amount of time and money are you can afford to invest to put your search engine listing above your competitors?
You can also monitor your website’s performance on the search engines. There are many free analytic programs, such as Google Analytics that will monitor how your website is performing on the search engines and will give you information about how your visitors behave once they visit your website. These statistics can tell you how many times pages have been visited, where your visitors have come from, keywords used to find your site, how long they stayed on your site, etc. This information is extremely helpful in finding out which of your current practices are working and which ones are not.