Making the correct choice at one of twelve crucial points in website development will save you a lot of time and effort later on. Rather than teaching you the specifics of HTML, my goal is to assist you with the frame of mind and the fundamental strategy. During these crucial decisions, I would like to hold your hand and guide you. You will be a happier camper and your website will function better if you fully understand these crucial points.
To begin, I say we all get our hands dirty. In passing, I was thinking you might find this document useful if you printed it out and annotated it as you read. Its purpose is to act as a guide for you as you go through the project, helping you to focus and get things done. You should provide your website design a copy of your annotated document in case you opt to hire them to complete the project. Get a copy of it.
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Establish the Main Goal of Your Website
Foster the growth of your brand. Make an attractive online brochure that will introduce your business to prospective clients, consumers, and business associates. You’re on a mission to improve public perception of your company or brand. The term “brochure-ware” has been bandied about to describe this type of website. For other types of businesses, particularly those operating on a regional or even local level and not aiming to compete on a global scale, this is perfectly acceptable. You would like people to be aware of your identity, your activities, your location, and your contact information.
Assist local dealers in selling your products and services by providing them with product information. One example is car sites. Instead of selling directly on their websites, many manufacturers direct customers to other stores that have their products.
Promote ads. Sites like Yahoo!, Google, and other portals exist solely to generate revenue from advertisements. However, there is an abundance of advertising space but insufficient funding to cover it all. Online ads are getting better, but they’re still too cheap. As an industry portal, you could try putting some Google AdSense ads on your site or selling some ads. Be that as it may, these do not generate substantial revenue. Advertising revenue should be considered a bonus, not a guarantee.
Get your wares out there by doing business online. The goal of your online business is to reach customers all over the world. Either an extensive online catalog or an ordering system for one or more products will be available to you. One possibility is that you provide a service that can be started or delivered online.
Get a cut of the sales and leads that come from the links on your site when you become an affiliate. Skilled marketers are creating microsites with the express purpose of driving traffic to a popular product or service through search engines. Affiliates earn a commission when a customer makes a purchase after clicking on one of their links to various online stores. It is possible that another business receives subscription or lead information through a form on your site. Assist customers and resolve their issues. Technical documentation, frequently asked questions (FAQs), troubleshooting instructions, etc., are best found on websites. The ability to print RMA labels is at your fingertips. Several methods of customer contact should be made available to them (refer to Point #9 below for details).
Streamline your spending with the help of online tools. Businesses have saved billions of dollars by utilizing the Internet. Eliminating the need to pay call center operators and reducing entry errors is possible with online order taking and real-time credit card authorization. A lot of money can be saved on paper, printing, and shipping expenses by using online catalogs. A smaller customer service team is required when frequently asked questions and knowledge bases are available online. And this is only the beginning.
Choose Between Doing It Yourself and Outsourcing
Once your goals have been defined, the next step is to choose between building your website from scratch and hiring a website design company. Now I’ll reveal my prejudice. Outsourcing initial website design is something I recommend for most businesses and larger non-profits. However, it is crucial to bring site maintenance back in-house. (Refer to Point #12 down below.)
Proper website design is complicated and calls for a wide range of abilities that aren’t often possessed by a single individual, particularly one who doesn’t make a living doing this. Among these abilities are:
familiar with HTML. Appropriate software for web design is useful. It can be challenging and time-consuming to maintain the HTML code generated by many WYSIWYG (“what you see is what you get”) programs. You need to access the raw HTML code in order to fine-tune your design.
Color theory, visual design, and excellent aesthetic judgment. Good taste is essential for an appealing website, but no software program grants its user artistic talent. Producing beautiful, well-organized images and site graphics while keeping file sizes as small as possible to ensure fast loading times obviously necessitates proficiency with graphic design software.
I design and implement website design navigation. On sites with twenty pages or more, it becomes much more challenging to assist visitors in efficiently navigating to their desired destinations. An expert’s eye for navigational design is more important than high-quality software.
website design scripting and database management system development. Site search programs and “contact us” forms even on smaller sites often necessitate CGI program installation and configuration. No amateur should attempt to integrate a larger site with an online database.
Business and marketing background. No outside firm can possibly comprehend your company’s ins and outs like you can. Be very clear about what it is you want to accomplish. When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), creating compelling sales pages, and other aspects of online marketing, the top website design companies have it figured out.
Make Use of Logical Sections to Organize Your Website
I messed up by putting all of the pages from my first website design—which had more than a hundred pages—into a single directory. What a disaster! One thing I picked up fast is the importance of using multiple directories, one for each section of your site, and organizing them logically. This is an example of a common small-site design:
The purpose of this site layout is merely to provide a framework for future consideration. Start with a blank sheet of paper and start sketching out the layout of your site, grouping similar functions together.
Make as many subdirectories as you need to keep your site structured. If you’re archiving newsletters, for instance, make a separate directory for each year’s issues to avoid making one huge mess. Always keep in mind that you are planning not only for the immediate future of your site, but also for any expansion it may experience in the next 2-3 years.
Create a Method for Users to Navigate Your Site
Having designed your website’s layout, you can appreciate the significance of a well-organized navigation system. Users often express frustration over the difficulty of locating certain content. Duplicate navigation systems, or more systems than you anticipate needing, become more critical as your site’s size increases.
Enhance the Visual Appeal of Your Website
Web design is important for what reasons? What makes a professional appearance important? For the same reason that a storefront sign in a strip mall represents the company and its owner, so does your website. People are less likely to comment, “The thrifty shopkeeper is trying to save money by making his own sign.” if the sign’s lettering appears crude and homemade. “How tacky!” they’ll exclaim. Looks like the goods and services aren’t up to par if this is the sign!
It is in your best interest to ensure that your website appears professional. To be successful, you’ll need an artistic eye or, alternatively, the skills of a graphic designer to handle the site’s foundational design and graphics.
Create Simple Website Templates
Sites for businesses often start with premade layouts. A standard webpage’s components, including a “hole” in the middle to accommodate the page’s unique content, can be built using a template that you or your designer create. The time spent building it from the ground up is well worth it. You can now use the template to make page after page. You need to put the page title, headline, meta tag content (refer to Point #7 below), and text content in their respective places for every webpage. I hope you enjoy yourself!
Create and Perfect Targeted Content Pages
If you’ve ever been in charge of creating a website from the ground up for your business, you know that writing the content is a major time sink. Working hard is all it is. With the content already created, it becomes much simpler to construct subsequent iterations of your website.
Use Systems for Customer Communication
Web pages allow users to communicate with one another in a two-way fashion. You reach out to prospective clients with your company’s marketing message and make it simple for them to get in touch with you. Customers are more likely to do business with you when they have faith in your ability to communicate effectively.
Including a full name, address, phone number, etc. on your contact page is an absolute must. The amount of websites that expect people to do business with them despite not providing any contact information is astounding to me. Providing clients with complete contact details fosters trust, regardless of whether they ever actually use them.
Developing and Testing High-Performing Sales Pages
Most Wanted Response (MWR) forms are present on all company and many nonprofit websites. Among the primary goals you mentioned in Point #1 (up there), your Most Wanted Response is likely to be one. The three main goals of most business websites are (1) making a sale, (2) sending visitors to another site to make a purchase, and (3) collecting contact details for potential follow-ups or leads. Organizational success can be gauged by the number of members or subscribers. Optimizing responses is essential regardless of your MWR.
Test the Usability and Implement Changes
Our survey of twelve website design decisions is nearly complete. However, you should test your site extensively before you stop. Even newly built websites, particularly those made by less experienced programmers, have bugs that the average user won’t notice right away.
Follow these steps to run your first few usability tests. Get together with a friend who is just starting out on the Internet. Take a seat in front of a computer, stand close by, and point him in the direction of your website. Inform him that you would appreciate it if he could verbalize his thoughts and any questions that arise while exploring your website. Just tell him that you’d love to hear his questions even though you can’t answer them right now. Now observe closely and make extensive notes. Look at the things that baffle him. Look at his stumbling block. Pay attention to his inquiries.
Make a Long-Term Strategy for Your Site’s Maintenance
The first time you build a website, it’s an exciting experience. Unless you’ve planned for maintenance, keeping it running for the next couple of years can be a real pain. When I say maintenance, what do I mean?
Adding or revising new details to previously published material, such as future events, industry shifts, staff changes, etc. Life is ever-changing. Websites also shouldn’t be.
The creation of additional web pages, for the storage of past newsletters or the introduction of new offerings, is one example.
Making changes to the text on your homepage to make your site appear more dynamic and current.