Your website, whether it’s for business or personal use, is the storefront window to the world. It is very important for your website to deliver and fulfill its mission in the most effective way possible. Whether you are designing your website, or if you are going to hire a professional, consider the following points before getting started.
1. This is the most important step. Before you do anything define the group of people that will approve the website design and implementation. It may include people from various departments, who will approve different parts of the website. There will probably be a few revisions once the process is started, but eventually you will get the lock on the right design and the process will become much smoother.
2. Step number two is to define the goals of the site. Is your website primary use to sell? Or is it a corporate identity? It could also be both, therefore having the goals of the website structured will make the process easy to follow and will avoid any conflicts. Therefore, use the goals as your guide to seamless project.
3. Make a list of important elements to be incorporated on your website. For example, the ability of downloading products, creating a monthly newsletter, and having the option for people to sing up, a multimedia section, testimonials, or an e-commerce section. Those are just some of the important elements to look at, but there are many more. Start browsing the internet and look at websites that you like. Set up a meeting to discuss the features you like and not like about the sites you have gathered and create a list. You will quickly see what is important and what comes after.
4. This is another critical step. As mentioned in one of my previous posts defining your marketing position is very important. Know who you are and how you want to project your business and online presence. Finalize the text you want to put on your homepage and that famous one sentence that usually defines who you are.
5. For each product/service on your website, identify the top three points you want to make. Remember you only have a few seconds to grab the readers attention, so these points are key, they need to be relevant, engaging and straight to the point. A good web designer will suggest creative ways of making these points easily accessible.
6. So if you decided and your team decided to use an outside web designer to build your website, now is the time to find your perfect web designer. You now have all the information you need to build your website. Which leads us to the final step…
7. Create a site map. An easy way to do it is by defining the top level menus that will be displayed on your homepage. From here you can create a spreadsheet that follows the main menu structure. For each web page start defining the following:
a. A unique number to identify each page, even if the name changes
b. A short description of the page content, try to keep it short and straight to the point, so it can be used later for SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
c. SEO friendly URL
d. Where this page links to, where you want your readers to go from this page
At this point you are ready to get your website design started. It will take longer than you think to finish the website.
Try to question the site at several levels of its design stage. Keep yourself available to the web designer for good communication. Make sure there are no broken links. Once you have a draft ready show it to your team and make sure everything discussed is engaged.