Building your first website can be daunting. If you are about to have your first website put together, you will no doubt have many questions. In this article, I will take you through the major items you need to consider to ensure your first website project goes smoothly.
Before you start looking for a web designer and developer, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
- How can your website be of most help to you and your customers?
- What are your competitors doing on their website?
- How much would you budget to get your first website up and running?
By being clear about these questions, you are able to have productive conversations with web designers and developers you are considering hiring to build your website. To help you find the answers to these questions, let’s discuss the main objective of your website, your competitors and your budget.
THE MAIN OBJECTIVE OF YOUR WEBSITE
Considering your stage of business development, your online strategy and thinking about your daily interactions with your customers, what do you need most from a website? What does it need to do for you? If you are a service provider and you just need a website to tell people about your services, show some of your past works and display your contact details, then perhaps you might just need to discuss Static Websites, especially if you have no need to update your website content every two weeks. If, however you have products to sell and you want to provide an online catalogue for your customers to browse, place orders and make payments online, then you will need an e-commerce website, which is a lot more complex.
If you want to constantly publish special announcements or updates to your customers and visitors, maybe you should consider having a blog as well. Blogs are a compilation of short articles arranged in a timely manner: daily, weekly or monthly. They are very useful to engage your customers in topics that are of interest to them, and in which you can provide the necessary expertise to comment and inform them of the latest trends. You can let them know of products or services you may offer to help remedy problems or take advantage of opportunities.
Having the ability to blog allows you to create fresh up-to-date content that is crucial for keeping your audience engaged. You can also post the release of these blog posts to assist your Social Networking strategies using Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and other tools. Fresh content is also an essential component to having search engines index your web pages.
You should have a look at your competitors online. Find their websites using Search Engines or their business cards, flyers, brochures or catalogues. When you visit their website, click around and find out what they are doing and how they are utilising their websites? Are there ideas you might be able to apply on yours? Are there elements of their website that you do not like? Studying how their websites look and how they are structured, may help you get a clear understanding of both the aesthetics and functionality of your own website. This, in turn, will assist you with formulating your requirements to your web- designer or developer.
Many businesses across diverse industries with a certain type of customers have varying needs and priorities. After you have clarified for yourself what you would like your website to do for you, by having a clear objective and studying your competitors’ websites, you will gain an idea as to what you need to do to compete online.
For example, if your business is in the fashion, shoes or jewellery industry, then you must be prepared to invest more in aesthetics of your website – much as you would if you are in the finance or advisory industries where the image of success and professionalism are highly regarded.
Further, the more functions your website needs, the more you should expect to invest in the development, testing and support of these functions. E-commerce websites, for example, automate the process of serving your catalogue to your customers, taking orders and accepting payments from your customers. To ensure your online shop is always working as it should, you need to keep it updated, regularly maintained and tested rigorously.
Before you have a chat with prospective web designers and developers, you must have a rough idea of how much you are willing and able to invest in your website. I recommend being up-front with your designers and developers about your budget… even if it is a rough range. I understand you might have some reservations about ‘showing your cards’ however as web designers and developers ourselves, knowing what our client’s limitations are allows us to explore all the alternatives and find the best solutions for your requirements given your particular budget in the shortest amount of time.
Getting your first website might be a daunting experience. However, by taking the time to prepare by asking yourself the questions outlined in this article, you will be better equipped to find the best solution for your budget and the right team to build your website.