Checklist for planning your new website

Deciding on the right type of website for your business can be tough.  There’s the design, the content of the site, to blog or not to blog, and so much more.  But sit back, take a breath, and relax.  The beauty of websites is that they’re not set in stone.  You start out with a basic foundation and allow it to evolve.  Trust me, you don’t need to make all the decisions.  Once you have a website up, your visitors will start to tell you what needs to change.

First, think about the general ‘feel’ of your site.

Every website has a feel to it.  Some are very professional, some are warm & welcoming, some are whimsical, and everything in between.  The feel of your website should match the feel of your business overall.  What is the message you’re trying to send?  Are you a photographer trying to demonstrate your artistry?  Are you an attorney conveying a very professional and educated image?  Or are you a realtor trying to reflect a very personal and engaging feel.  The general theme you decide on will carry through your site; from the colors to the images to the font choices.  Deciding on the general feel your site is going to convey is a critical first step.

 

What is the purpose of your website?

This might sound simple, but it’s important to know what the overall purpose is so each part of your site can be geared towards that goal.  Are you selling a product?  A service?  Trying to collect information?  Trying to motivate people to take action?  Determine what your overall purpose is and this will inform each division you have to make when it comes to your website.  If there’s a part of your website that doesn’t contribute to this ultimate goal, it’s taking away from it.

 

Do you need a mobile / responsive website?

I’ll make this one easy for you — Yes you do.  I could list the statistics here of how many people access the internet through mobile devices, but by the time you read this, it would already be higher.  Just know that it’s getting closer and closer to 100% every day.  Quickly.  Not only that, but search engines are now ranking websites lower if they don’t have a mobile version.  That alone is reason enough to ensure you have a responsive website.

Virato_Multiscreen

What additional features do you need?

Websites range from very simple to very complex.  Think about it; your local Laundromat probably has a website that’s a single page with some basic information (phone number, address, etc.)  That’s a website.  Google is also a website.  But it’s has a ton of complexity and sub-domains (basically, sub-websites) to it.  So a “website” ranges in features and complexity.  A few key things to think about:

  • Do you need a shopping cart?  Will you want people to purchase something from a catalog of products on your website?

  • Do you need some sort of ‘portal’?  This is a portion of a site where users can log in with their own username/password to access areas that are specific to them.

  • Do you need to be able to manage and change the website yourself?  There are many platforms that handle this sort of site.  But know that building a single page website with 1 picture and 1 paragraph of text is different from creating a single page website where you can easily control the 1 picture and the 1 paragraph of text.  In the long run, a site that you have the ability to manage saves you time and money.

  • Do you need the site to link to any other online resources?  Common things would be linking to a Google Calendar, MLS listings, Social Media, etc.  If you have an online resource that you currently use and want some of the content from those resources to be displayed on your site, this will need to be built and configured on your site.

  • Do you need a blog?  And follow up question – do you need a blog that goes beyond the basic look and feel?  When you go to a huge blogging website like Buzzfeed or Mashable, these are not ‘standard’ blogs.  These blog pages have had hundreds or thousands of hours put into the design and development of the blog pages.  That’s what makes them stand out.  So think about your blog and how much of a focus it will be on your site.

What is your budget?

Of course budget has to be a factor.  But here’s where it’s important to make the right decision…..  Have you ever looked for a businesses website to get some information on them and couldn’t find it?  Probably.  It’s happened to all of us.  Think about the impression that leaves.  It’s not great — but at the same time, you still figure some businesses just don’t have websites.  Now, have you ever looked for a businesses website and found it — and it was HORRIBLE?  Yes.  This has also happened to all of us.  Now think about the impression that left.  You see a horrible website and carry that impression over to the business.  “Who would have a website like this?” you think (and so do I).  This is important to remember. First impressions are nearly impossible to erase.

Now I understand that hearing the advice that no website is better than a poor website may sound strange coming from a web development company, but it is simply the truth.  You don’t want a website that looks and feels cut-rate.  And we don’t want to be the team to give you one either.  When looking at budget, explore other options.  Maybe you don’t have the budget you need for the ‘right’ website today.  But can you allot an amount each month towards its development?  Find a website company that will work with you on the budget that makes sense.  And remember – websites are just like anything else in life – you get what you pay for.

 

There are of course more questions to ask.  The key is knowing your brand and finding a team to work with that will guide you through the process.

What other questions do you have about making your website a reality?

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