How to prepare for your new website ?
So you have a new business, or an established one with no website. Or you already have a website but you feel it is outdated and need a new website in order to cope with the new trends and keep up with the competition.
Here are a few steps that you need to do in order to prepare what you need for your designer/developer in order to get what you wish for from your new website.
Before we begin, you need to make sure that you know that “Content is King”, that being said, the main factor of your website ranking is the content of your website which you are required to provide your web developer with in order to add to your new website, we will explain as much as we can how to create killer content for your website.
Know your website’s purpose, goals and audience
You will need to define what is the main purpose of your website, is it a gallery of your products, an online shop, a showcase of your services or just a channel for people to reach you in an easier way? Or all of them altogether.
The goals of your website are different from the purpose, you might have an online shop but your goal is the increase of overall sales, others might want to increase sales online in order to reduce running costs of your current store. Explaining these goals to the designer helps with fine tuning the code, design and user flow in order to direct the audience to your target goal, the changes may be subtle but they make a huge difference.
The audience are the third and final aspect you will need to know about your website, as this influences the design direction more than any of the other points, you can’t have a corporate minimalistic design for a website targeting teenagers, and vice versa.
Do your research
Understanding where your site stands among the competition is a great first step, as it allows you to know where you have room to grow, and find out where your weaknesses are. Check your competitor’s website, understand what they display and how they provide their services. Research is the key element of a successful website, and no one knows your business better than you do!
Understand the design process
It really helps if you understand the typical web design process and the lifecycle of your website development. This way you will know what to expect and will understand each step of the process staying ahead of your needs ensuring no delays in the design process.
Provide your logo and branding manual
Your logo and branding manual define the design direction and your color swatches, these are needed beforehand in order to make sure the overall look and feel of your new website matches your corporate identity and emphasise your online presence.
Prepare your graphics and/or photos
You may or may not need to consult with your designer before starting the preparation of your graphics and photos, these define many aspects of the website and need to follow a specific line of design in order to convey your message. Depending on your target audience, this may change the style of the photos you will use.
Make sure to check the size needed for the photos that ensures decent display on all screen sizes, remember your website will be viewed from small smartphone screens up to 5K resolution desktop screens.
Start working on your website content, NOW!
After understanding your website needs and your competition you will need to decide what goes into your website, as previously explained the content of your website is the main element that decides the success or failure of your website.
Create a site map
Your website involves many pages, and you will need to sort these in a logical manner to make sure your audience know where to go when they need to find information, it’s helpful to build a basic sitemap that will allow your web designer a high-level view of how you want the site pages structured in the new design. This isn’t to say your designer may not have some changes or suggestions for how to improve this, and also gets the project rolling much faster if you’ve spent some time doing this internally before bringing in outside help.
Don’t procrastinate, good content takes time to build
When working on a new website it can get easy to lose time focusing on the design, look and feel of the website, that you would eventually have no time to create your content, this can lead to a great looking website that is useless to its visitors, a major weak point about website creation is the lack of good content, make sure to have the time to write all the content and have it audited internally and externally. If you don’t plan enough time for content creation into your schedule, you may end up delaying your website launch or under-utilizing your website.
Keep it short and to the point
With the fast pace we’re living in, everyone wants to reach the information they want in the shortest time possible, make sure you do not provide lengthy content that provides no new information, our advice to keep it to a minimum and a rule of thumb is to always keep each page between 400 to 1000 words.
You have less than 10 seconds to engage your users, make them count.
Integrate your SEO strategy in your content
You might be tempted to consult your SEO consultancy service after your website launch, this might lead to wasted time due to many revisions and editing of your content, make sure to consult about SEO early in the content writing process to ensure great content from start. Remember it takes search engines a while to reindex your pages so it is best to get it right at start.
Provide all content and information for your designer
Your job is done, and now it is time to sit back and relax knowing your design is in good hands, your content is up to par to your needs and ask your designer for a live demo every step of the process to ensure everything is going according to your standards.
Next steps: Website Production Checklist, Website Publishing Checklist.