10 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before I Built My First Website
In today’s digital age we can hardly imagine an entrepreneur who starts a company or a service without an online representation. This also holds true for individuals who want to increase their recognition in the market with the help of professional online portfolios. A website is the company’s online presence which has a potential to double profits, attract customers and investors, positively affecting the company’s brand.
Many people waste money on a website that doesn’t do its job. If you want to go online you will allocate funds for both building and maintaining your website. Therefore, make sure to invest reasonably. Regardless of your business type, there are at least ten key elements to consider before having your website developed. Many people come to realize these important things in the midst or at the end of their website development. Thus, they end-up making constant modifications in the long run to achieve desired results.
Whether it is the first time you are having your website built or not, here are 10 things you should be aware of to increase the chances of your website success.
Meaningful planning lays grounds for your website success
All websites start with planning but the best ones start with meaningful planning tailored to clearly defined goals and needs. Whether you need an e-commerce website, a platform to display your artworks or a professional portfolio, you should narrow your options down to envision the website that speaks to your unique profile. The key to a successful website development is the clear instructions you give to the webmaster and the constant effort you put to get involved in the decision making processes (comes later in the article).
Conduct a SWOT analysis to determine your short-term and long-term objectives, strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats. In order to represent your company in its best possible way make sure to have specific answers to the following questions:
- What is the purpose of your website? Do you intend to educate, entertain or sell to your potential visitors?
- Who is your audience? Consider the age, background as well as demographic, cultural and occupational aspects.
- What is your scope? Do you want an e-commerce solution to sell online or do you want to expand on the idea and allow users to review items on your website.
- What are the corporate core values of your company or brand and how do you intend to present them to your audience?
- What distinguishes you from competitors in the market?
Believe it or not, with a clear picture in mind of what you want, you will save your time and have a professional website right from the first try. No need to learn from mistakes if you can avoid the mistakes by all means.
Have a basic idea about the core components of website development
You don’t need to be a tech-guru but you shouldn’t be ignorant of what is happening behind the scenes! Building a website is not a simple process even though many DIY articles make it seem like that. It surely doesn’t start with buying a CMS. Website development, be it for a large or a small business, encompasses a lot of elements each of which demand due attention both on the part of the webmaster and you, as the one defining the specifications.
Your website architecture, or the back-end, the layout or the front-end, the design and social media integration are elements that should all go hand in hand. Your preferences for each element specification may determine the quality and practicality of your website and affect your website traffic.
Knowing what domain name and hosting are, or the simple fact that your website is most likely to undergo constant maintenance and support, you are doing a great job to start off. You will be more mindful and alert in your decisions. As a result, you will have an idea about the average timeframe, bottom-line costs and further services you should consider along with your website development.
Needless to say, a willing web development team should be there to keep you posted of what phase your website is in. However, you should be familiar with the terms to some extent to be able to discriminate the right team in the first place. On top of that, you will manage your budget more effectively and will know your expectations.
Hire the RIGHT team to carry out your website design and development
With the above mentioned tips in mind, you can head for selecting the most suitable team to be in charge of your website. With thousands of agencies and developers out there, it is not an easy task to filter the best agency. You may still end up dissatisfied if the team’s skills don’t match your specific needs.
- Don’t go for a top-notch web development agency paying several thousands of dollars for a simple two-page website for a small business. On the other hand, if you are in need of a sophisticated website with multiple pages and advanced functionality, you wouldn’t ideally want to hire a small inexperienced team.
- Consider the pricing and quality offered. Many agencies provide free quotes for you to have an estimate of your costs. Have a look at the agency’s profile, previous works and testimonials. Is the quality worth the sum? Make sure to invest reasonably. Meanwhile, while looking for a cost-efficient solution don’t opt for the cheapest one for the sake of your convenience.
- Pay attention to the niche of the agency. Why go for an agency that specializes in building ecommerce websites when you need a news website? The right fit is out there if you are willing to spend some time before selecting the first agency on your way.
- Last but not least, look for additional perks. Many web companies provide extra advantages, such as free consultation, assistance in choosing your website hosting and registering the domain and so forth. The best team will go all the way through providing recommendations and on-going support for your website.
Your accurate selection will provide a safeguard for your website success. Treat the team as professionals and you will avoid hidden costs and fees for later modifications and updates.
You need to choose your domain name wisely
Now that you are aware that there are such things as domain and domain name (remember point 2: Have a basic idea of the components of website development) let’s understand why they are actually so important. A domain is a set of network addresses. Your domain name is basically the main part of your URL which is displayed in your address bar, for instance www.webdeveloper.sydney. It is the name that search engines locate when users type it to navigate into your website.
If you already have a unique business name, it won’t be an issue to figure out what your website name should be. If you are setting-off online right away, it may be hard to pick a domain name since all the ‘good’ names seem to be taken. Be guided by the following simple checklist to generate a domain name that works:
- make it relevant to your brand
- make it pronounceable and easy to remember
- make it short and concise
- use keywords if possible
- Choose the most common extension for your country (such as .com, .net, .ca).
Design and layout will speak for themselves
You only have one chance to leave a first impression. Your website design is what first catches the visitor’s eye. The following are a few of the many components to reflect your brand identity:
You may dive into the huge selection of free and paid WordPress themes to find the one and only that meets your needs. With millions of options available your web designer will help you select the most suitable option for your website.
Another great strategy is to research, research and research some more, and to analyze websites of similar companies or businesses. Forming an idea about what works well and attracts visitors, you can integrate the best practices without having to reinvent the wheel.
In either way, don’t overwhelm your website with too much decorations and irrelevant graphics. A great design is a simple design with a creative touch. If you are daring enough and want to stand out among competitors, let a brilliant web designer come up with an innovative custom solution specifically for your website. As a matter of course, the aesthetic qualities of your website will not be overlooked by any means:
SEO, Responsive, Cross browser: Essential trends to consider
You have definitely heard of at least one of these terms by now. If not, you need to know that these three trends can either make or break your business.
Search Engine Optimization is going to play a big part of your website. According to Google search statistics on average Google processes over 40,000 search queries every second, which corresponds to over 3.5 billion searches on a daily basis and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. This means that people will more often find your website by typing in keywords in search engines rather than directly type in your website name in the address bar of their browsers. Therefore, getting
SEO savvy will increase your website traffic and do justice to your business.
In addition, with millions of people surfing the net from their smartphones and tablets, websites compatible with mobile devices gain more than their counterparts. A responsive website will automatically adjust depending on the screen size no matter what device it is viewed on. Hence, you are going to lose valuable clientele if you have chosen to disregard this aspect.
Finally, if your visitors choose to visit your website from their computers, you need to ensure that your website is fully compatible across various browsers. Different browsers interpret the source code of your website differently which may sometimes break the design of your website or fail to play videos or upload files. You don’t want this to happen, do you?
You can’t get away without ongoing management and updates
Work on your website does not end with the accomplishment of your webmaster’s duties. Having a website live will add up some duties for your business.
Based on your business needs you will either need a static or a dynamic website. A static website is one that does not need regular changes, such as posting blog entries or updating the items in your e-commerce website. These are features typical to dynamic websites. Even with a static website changes will be indispensable as the market grows and the technology changes.
Consider whether you need a CMS that will enable you to have control over your content. Some CMS won’t let you make any updates with ease. In this case you will need to heavily reply on developers for slightest change.
Content always comes first
No matter how professionally all the aspects of your website are built, your efforts will go unnoticed if your website has a poorly written content. Content pleasing to eye and easy to navigate is a safeguard for a winning website.
Bear in mind that your visitors do not navigate into your website to make you a favor unless they are your family or close friends. Customers visit your website for their own sake to find what they need and what they are interested in. The information they are looking for should be available and easily accessible. Therefore, having a customer-oriented content you will increase the chances for more traffic into your website.
Make sure to update your website content regularly to keep it relevant and concise. You should completely eliminate long and redundant paragraphs that nobody is going to read. Put your company’s uniqueness into words and convince by keeping it simple. This will hold your visitors’ attention to keep on reading. Notably, add a positive touch to your writing since visitors are more likely to share your website if your content makes them happy.
Finally, an important feature all the leading websites share is calls to action. Clearly specify what you want your visitors to do and put it in well-designed call-to-action (CTA) buttons.
Sounds a little intimidating? Just find a talented content writer or two to carry out this task. You will be surprised to see what changes words are able to make for your website!
Ensure high level of security at all costs
With a number of hackers seeking vulnerable websites to attack, keeping your website secure is crucial not only for you but also for your visitors. You will end up giving away your visitors’ private data, have your information messed up, spread malicious files across your website links, get banned by Google, or even lose your website completely. The main pitfall of inexperienced web developers is that they often disregard taking security measures from the beginning. Your website will be a favorable target for hackers if you and your team don’t follow the below steps:
- All software is timely updated
- Your website hosting is a reliable one
- Validation is provided both on server-side and user-side
- You have really strong passwords that are impossible to guess and you change them periodically
- Your admin directories are difficult to detect because of the customized names given.
Ideally your webmaster will make your website safe and sound by covering all the potential gaps that cyber villains are searching.
One step further – blog, news section or a discussion forum
Many leading businesses tend to start a blog, news section or a forum section as an adjunct to their website. These essential add-ons potentially increase search engine traffic, bring content to share in digital marketing campaigns, keep the brand close to the customers and provide many more assets for your website success.
In addition, do not underestimate the power of a well-managed and well-organized discussion forum. With loyal customers’ contributions your brand and services yield topics for hot discussions and debates. This is usually where interested customers find the info they are looking for.
Your new forum, on the other hand, positions you as an expert in your field as the regular updates establish your authority in the market. Many fans are eager to know what you are up to with first hand information.
Nonetheless, keep in mind that “All or nothing” is the bottom-line principle here! You don’t want a blog that was last updated six months ago. There is nothing more disturbing than a discussion forum with only a couple posts. If your news section is not fresh then you are not adding value to your website. If poorly managed, these benefits will turn to be ill-favored and discouraging factors for your website.