When you decide you need a website for your business, you may be surprised by the amount of planning that's involved. Most people think web design means deciding on the graphics and the look of the pages and then by some magic it would all happen. You'll be amazed at the depth of initial questioning required to find out exactly what your requirements are. You, likely, have no idea about the various aspects and the structure of the site and will find amazing the amount of work involved. Here is some of the information that may be requested of you by your web designer.
Before constructing a website there are many important questions to consider. You'll be asked who will be your potential audience. Who are your customers likely to be? Will they be children, businesses, home owners, sales people, parents or teenagers and so on?
You'll be asked, what the objective of my website is? Do you want to sell services on line or use it to market your business and get more leads for possible customers? Maybe your will want to use it as an online brochure to showcase products. Another possibility is to use the website to foster a community so that you are in contact with other like-minded people, with chat rooms, online discussion and being supported by advertising on the site.
One of the first questions you'll be asked is, ‘Do you want your website to be found by Google?’ If you do then there is a whole process of establishing the best keywords, which are vital if you want to be found in Google. Generally, most users only look at the top ten results so you will also want to promote your website to get on this page for your chosen keywords. By using a keyword research tool you can find the single most popular keyword for your industry.
Choosing a domain name is quite often a problem because every name you initially come up with will almost certainly have been taken. Domain names ending in .com are by far the most popular and internationally recognized; the snag is that it’s very popularity means that the majority of the shorter names have already been registered. So looking at names with endings such as .net; .co.uk or .info may provide you with the domain name you want. When choosing your domain name, it is vital to include one or more of your keywords if possible as this can apparently help with search engine rankings. So although the name of your business is the obvious choice for a domain name, it is not necessarily the only option.
As with any project you must have a plan, the better the plan the better the project turns out. A site map for a web site is part of the road-map for the site. The importance of creating a site map is to get it clear in your mind of all the pages you will have on your website so you can prepare the content for each page and begin to design the flow through the website, such as when a user adds a product to their basket, then enters their delivery and billing address and makes the credit card payment in the correct order.
Finally we come to the design of your website. If you are setting up a website for yourself alone then you will probably have some idea of what you want to see on the site. But if, as so often happens, the website is for a large corporation there will be inputs from many people or departments and you can be sure that they will never all agree!
There are a number of ways to approach web design but ultimately you need to create a design brief for the designer to work from. Look at other websites and your competitor’s websites to find out what you like or dislike. The design brief should give reference to the logo, any existing brand guidelines or schemes and fonts and color schemes, and should also detail which pages of the website that the designer is being tasked with creating visuals for. The artwork should be finalized and agreed on by everybody before development of the site begins.
There are always some things that arise in any project which you suddenly realize you have forgotten, so no matter how well the web designer prepares and asks the right questions, there will always be a last minute change or addition. The main aim is to minimize the number of glitches that might arise because they aren’t calculated in and they could cause extra costs and delays on the date of the site going live.
Once your website is up and running, you might like to know how many people visit your website and from that number how many actually buy the products or place an inquiry. From these statistics you can work out the ratio of hits to sales and gradually make changes to improve the ratios. There are some reliable statistics packages such as Google Analytics or Web-Stat.com which allow you to collect and review website visitor data in near real time. All you need to do this is to have a small block of code inserted into each web page on your site.
Once the website is live there are lots of things you can do to market your product or service. The first step is to submit it to the search engines and at the same time write articles, and press releases. Getting links to the site from forums, blogs and other social networking spaces are other options. For more on this subject ask your designer about SEO.
Unless you are a computer buff, most people have no idea how much goes into designing and building a website and the systems that support the work you want it to do. Hopefully this will give you an understanding and insight into the whole process of website development from start to finish.