Sooner or later anyone with a business will need to consider creating or updating a website for their company.
If you’re in this position now or could be soon then there are some things you definately should be aware of before you start. Let’s face it, your website is more important than ever, so getting it right first time will inevitably save you time, and money.
So, here are 5 big things you should make sure you do:
Set a sensible budget
A sensible budget is not necessarily one that is big. Sensible means paying the right money for the right website that meets your needs. No point having all the bells-and-whistles if they’re not actually there for a specific reason.
A great example of unnecessary functionally would be the client who asked us to add a secure area for his customers – we eventually established that the client thought it would make his company appear bigger and more sophisticated. The additional work involved in providing a secure password-protected customer area massively outweighed any benefit to his business. Luckily he relented, but many developers will be happy to provide everything you want, leaving you to rue the wasted expense.
A sensible budget also means understanding the extent of the project from registering your web domain to training on how to use it. Your new company website will incur costs beyond website design and website development so it's worth accounting for all the extras.
Understand the difference between developers and designers
It's easy to assume that website design and website development are the same. However they are two completely different skill-sets that generally require two different professionals. This ensures you get the maximum input for your website from both perspectives.
Finding a developer and designer who are used to working together is key but not easily achieved. Most smaller businesses don't have development and design resources in-house which leaves two options.
Source external contractors and manage them
Use a specialist web development agency
Managing external contractors and hoping they work well as a team can be risky and time-consuming; it’s why many website projects are outsourced to agencies.
Good agencies will have developers and designers in-house. They’ll be used to working on projects together making the whole process more efficient, the ultimate result being a better product in a shorter time.
Plan properly with a full wireframe before development begins
Without the proper planning (requiring your involvement) at the outset of your website project, you can expect a longer production time at a higher cost and the likelihood of getting exactly what you want or expect will be vastly reduced.
A wireframe allowing you to properly navigate and use your site is the perfect way to test functionality and make amends before any costly design and programming work is undertaken. In addition, any changes required are easier to implement and retest too.
The wireframe will also form an essential element when briefing everyone with a contribution to the project who may not have been involved in the early planning stage.
Be clear on what you want your website to achieve
What exactly do you want your website to do for you? These days, a site that simply looks good is not enough. Being clear on website goals will help everyone in the production process. Really effective websites do more and here’s a few examples:
Build trust by reflecting your brand professionally
Underpin your offering with customer testimonials and case studies
Convert visitors to leads by getting them to leave details or download content
Encourage return visits by keeping content fresh and updated
Be a place where staff can create and publish blogs and whitepapers
Choose your style and stick to it
What exactly do you want your website to do for you? These days, a site that simply looks good is not enough. Being clear on what your websites goals are before you start, will help everyone involved in the production process. Great websites do more than just look pretty, they achieve key business objectives.
Embrace input at the start of your project, as some valuable insight can be gained and used to guide the rest of the project
Once people have had their say, make it clear that the project will continue without further consultation
You’d be surprised how many times someone points to a new website they prefer the look of once yours is nearing completion. Whilst extremely frustrating, you need to remind yourself of the time, care and attention taken to plan and agree the designs at the start of your project. You made design decisions for good reasons, to achieve your business goals. Stick to your guns and don’t dilute.
If you try to accommodate everyone then the result will probably appeal to no one.
Budget properly for the site you need, pick the best people (with the right skills) to do the job, prepare to spend time planning with a view to achieving clear goals and don’t be derailed by those not fully involved in the project.