Planning is a prerequisite to success and it is commonly said that those who fail to plan actually plan to fail. If your company’s website needs an overhaul – or if you don’t have a site yet at all—getting started with your website can be intimidating. After all, your site is the core of your online presence, and it needs to be an accurate reflection of what your company has to offer in the highly competitive online market.
But before you can do any work on the site, you need to have a plan in place. A plan sets out what you intend to do, and how you intend to do it to achieve your goals. So whether you are working on a redesign or building a new site from the ground up, planning is necessary for you to have a framework of how you go about it and the steps we have laid out below is a proposed website planning process suitable for any project.
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So, here is our proposed plan which should guide your web development efforts, be it for a new project or for a redesign.
1. Decide on The Website You Want
This involves evaluating your existing or proposed new website project. If you already have a website and your goal is to improve the design, you need to evaluate your existing online presence before going any further. You will consider the look and feel of your website bearing in mind that it is the trust and confidence your website projects that will make people not resistant to making orders and purchases.
Consider the current functionalities on the website, what you need to improve on, and the new features you will want to add. In doing all these, you will also look at how well your website has been promoted and how your new decisions will affect website growth and popularity. After all, it is no use building a very good website that is not getting a strong online presence, especially in search engines.
Decide on Your Domain name
Your domain name choice will be instrumental to your success. It is the first decision you should take. Bear in mind that your domain name can very well influence your search engine rankings. Exact match domains when combined with quality content boost the ranking in the search engines. For example, ogoninews.com ranks top for the keyword “ogoni news” but does not rank so well for the keyword “ogoni”.
This is not to say you should focus on exact match keywords to craft your domain names. Research has shown that exact match domains do well in the search engines, however, Google has noted that it does not matter and we have also seen that a well-planned online content strategy can be more rewarding than just relying on growing with exact match domains.
You should consider if you will want to build your brand by choosing a domain name that matches your business name. Then you will have to proceed to check if your chosen domain name is available.
If you are not embarking on an entirely new project, it may not be necessary to change your domain name except for very good reasons or the availability of a name that offers more prospects. So, to avoid any customer confusion, you should keep your existing domain name.
Decide on the URL structure
URL structure has gained more importance recently with more weight thrown on it by Google. Google considers URL structure as one of the factors that enhance user experience. Having a good URL structure will boost your website’s growth and make your visitors happy.
You should consider how to set up the URLs on your current or proposed website and determine how readable and appropriate they are to the content on your pages. Do you have a few clearly-named subfolders? Are they easy to navigate? Do you need to maintain the current URL structure or make some adjustments? Depending on how your website is built, changing the structure could create some errors and there could be a need to set up some redirects. If so, keeping these URLs intact when building your new site will eliminate the need for redirects.
If your URLs are made up of seemingly random characters, on the other hand, you’re better off creating a new URL structure with your new site. However, be sure to keep a log of these URLs so you can set up appropriate redirects where necessary.
Build Content For Your Website
Your site’s content is unarguably its most important element. It is important for Google ranking and it is what will move website users to take action in an appropriate way that benefits your intents. You must carefully craft the most appealing content you are able to put together using a combination of headers and bold characters.
Content is what provides visitors with the information they need, tells them who you are as a company, and convinces them to convert.
If your site’s existing content doesn’t accomplish all three of these goals, it will need to be rewritten.
Another aspect to consider is the size of the content. Your website does not have to be overloaded with words just because you want to convince visitors. Be precise and make every content worthwhile. Some SEOs recommend at least 100 words on the home page. We think having around 500 words properly categorized to capture your business is good enough for today’s search engines.
2. Determine what functionality you need
If all you want is a simple site with text, images, and contact information, the build process will be pretty straightforward. But if you’re looking for additional functionality, you’ll need to determine what you want before hiring a developer.
For example, will you want to host an e-commerce store in order to sell your products directly on your site? Or is the only interactive element you need a contact form?
Knowing what your site needs to do will make it much easier to select a developer that’s right for your project.
3. Decide on the Web Design Tool
Today, there are several web design tool options open to you to choose from. Your goals and budget will influence which is best for your purpose.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common ways you can build your website today.
You have the option to build your website from the ground up using HTML. HTML sites will entirely be coded from the ground up. These sites typically take longer to build but allow for full customization of both appearance and functionality to ensure that you don’t end up with a bad website design.
The upside to HTML sites is that if something goes wrong, the developer who built it won’t have much of an issue identifying and fixing the issue. However, making site updates requires a bit of coding knowledge.
The downside is that they are not so flexible to manage so updating them is not so easy and as mentioned earlier will require some coding knowledge. Secondly, HTML websites will require a lot of work to optimize for today’s search engines.
Building With a Content Management System
The other option is to build your website with a content management system, or CMS, like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, WHMCS, Magento, etc. When you build a site with a CMS, you get an admin panel that makes logging in and making changes a simple process. If you don’t have any coding experience but want to be able to make site updates on your own, this is a better option.
However, since CMS is built by third-party developers, it can sometimes be more challenging to get the same level of customization as an HTML site. Unless you are a professional with excellent knowledge of coding, it will be difficult to customize the design of a website built with CMS.
The popular and most prevalent practice has been to purchase an already-designed template and integrate it into your CMS. Some of the custom templates come with the full CMS installation package and so are easier to set up and get running.
4. Finalize your budget
After you’ve found the right developer, you will need to discuss the cost implications. Please bear in mind that the more functionalities you add to your website, the more likely your cost will vary upwards. So your budget should determine how much functionality you will need for your website. You will want to be sure that you’re on the same page with your developer in terms of the cost before they start working to avoid any conflicts and legal issues.
Review the project, then request estimates of the time it will take to complete the project as well as the cost. These will vary depending on the size and experience of the developer’s team, but it’s important that you both have the same set of expectations.
5. Embark on the Design
Now that you have decided and specified the design cost and quality, what type of design you want, and the functionalities you want on your website, it’s time to proceed with your design. At this point, you need to up the project yourself or you hire a developer to implement the project for you.
Hiring a web designer or developer to design and launch your site has some advantages. The developer could have taken on similar projects and will be more experienced. He/she could have had some challenges and overcome them, or he could have taken up an optimization task so will better write your meta tags to achieve high rankings for your pages. The experienced developer will also understand the necessary steps required to secure your website, optimize it for speed and performance and avoid the challenges that force web hosts to suspend poorly optimized websites.
Who designs your website is not a decision to take lightly as his work is what the website visitors and search engines see and rate. The work of the designer is therefore the ultimate and deciding factor in the success of your company’s site. You may need to personally take responsibility to research your design options and make sure that the designers you’re considering have experience with the specific kind of work your project will involve.
If you’re on the fence about a specific agency, we recommend asking for the names and contact information of their clients. When you speak with people who have already worked with a particular agency, you’ll get a better sense of whether or not it’ll be a good fit.
Here are some qualities your designer must have for you to be comfortable that a good output will be expected:
Qualities of a Good Web Designer
- Pays attention to detail – The internet is highly competitive and a good website designer needs to be someone who takes every detail seriously.
- Passion – If the designer is not passionate about what he or she does, then he is not likely to put in the best.
- Creativity – Creativity is essential to make your work stand out.
- Knowledgeable – Being knowledgeable about what you do builds trust and authority. It is needed to produce a good design outcome.
- Focus on users – Focus on users will produce a good user experience. Google loves that and it builds a clientele base.
- Aesthetically Pleasing Design – Look and feel of the website not only help in retaining the user on the website but also builds trust and credibility which are two essential components of Google’s quality rater guidelines.
- SEO knowledge – A good design can be obscured by poor SEO. A designer should build websites with human visitors and SEO in mind.
- Innovation – Keep up with new things and implement them on your website.
- Big Aims – The goal is to be the best in terms of traffic, conversion, and revenue generation.
- Experience – Experience plays a huge role in achieving excellence. A good designer should always strive to do quality work and gain experience. Your portfolio should speak volumes about your talent.
- Be collaborative – In an organizational setup, you should be open to communicating and collecting inputs from multiple people including clients, marketers/SEO, developer, copywriter, and tester as everyone has a crucial role to play in the web designing process.
When commencing a new web development project, ensure the goals, features, and costs involved are clearly defined, understood, and agreeable to both you and your team of developers. You will need to work closely with the developer and seek feedback on the progress made to ensure that the project succeeds with your expectations being met.
Do you have a need for a design, our team at Todhost can help build your dream website at an affordable cost. Contact us today.
If you have comments and contributions, let’s have them in the comment box below.