If you’re thinking about building a website for your new business or organization, or if you’re finally getting around to redesigning your existing website, there is much to consider. Websites are not just pretty pictures and some words. Much goes into the planning, the behind-the-scenes coding, the layout and the overall hierarchy that can make the difference between success and failure.
To help you out, here are 10 things you should consider as you think about your new website.
- Know your customer and your target audience. Spend some time to consider who your ideal customer is and build your website for them. And no, it’s not everyone! The more specific you can be, the better you can focus your marketing and the more successful you will be. Trust me on this!
- Check out your competition. You can learn quite a bit from your competitors, so be sure to do your research and use it wisely. What code are they using behind the scenes? How is their site laid out for conversion? Do they have specific calls to action on each of their pages?
- What is the goal of your website? Are you selling products or services? To businesses or consumers? Each page should have a specific goal – and a specific call to action – as well as an overall goal for the site.
- Focus on the user experience. Create a site outline, listing the hierarchy of your pages so that you can plan the navigation. Once someone lands on your site, be sure they know how to find what they want. Plan your layout and navigation so that they don’t have to guess where the information is. The quicker they find what they need, the better the chances of them buying from you. And don’t forget to make your site mobile friendly! Google is penalizing sites for not being friendly to the mobile user, so don’t neglect this important aspect of your website. In a nutshell, when someone lands on your site, they should know immediately who you are and how you can help them.
- Site maintenance and updates. Allow some time (or money in your budget if you prefer that your designer do your website maintenance) for your site to be regularly updated and maintained. Staying current with design and coding standards and trends is important, but regular updates also go a long way to keeping your search rankings high. Google loves new and fresh content. Old and stale sites will quickly disappear from search results. Not interested in performing security maintenance and updates on your site? Check out my Monthly Website Maintenance & Security Service, designed to take the worry out of monitoring your website so you can get on with the job of running your business.
- Organize artwork, images and content. Have all your images, graphics and written content ready to deliver so that the site build can progress smoothly and quickly. If your designer is waiting for you to deliver content, that will only delay the final product and you want your website up and running as soon as possible so that it is earning you money!
- Find 3-6 sites that you like, and 3-6 sites that you don’t like. List why you do, or don’t, like them and let your designer know, along with the URLs, so that they can more easily determine what your preferences are.
- Think about your keywords. What keywords and phrases will people use to find you organically in search? Being specific about this will help fine tune what keywords should be focused on to increase your organic search results. If you’re using terms that are too vague and broad, your site will most likely be buried below all the other larger, more established sites that are ranked for that same term.
- Be realistic. Websites are not a perfect science and an effective website takes months to nurture and perfect. Don’t expect sales to sky rocket a week after your site’s been launched. You will undoubtedly change text, keywords, images and possibly even some of the layout, in order to get it just right.
- Know what you want. I saved the best for last. Clearly, contacting your designer for a new website without any idea of what you want your site to be, is a waste of time and will only result in frustration for both of you. While certain details can obviously be pinpointed as we go through the process, it is important that you have a clear idea in your head of what you would like to see, so do your homework and get organized. Not only will your experience be much more satisfactory, but you will also be able to expect much better results for your efforts.