A website is vital for your business. One of the first things a consumer does before moving forward with you and your business is take a peak at your website. Furthermore, 75% of consumers admit that they judge a business’ credibility based on their website design. So what’s the moral of the story? Get a website built for your company that accurately reflects that great work that you do in the community.
HOWEVER, don’t just jump right into building a website. If you want your site to be effective and perform at a high level, there is some prep work that you need to do. Following are 9 preparatory steps you need to complete prior to building a website.
1. Establish Goals For Your Website
What do you need your new website to accomplish?
This is a very important question that you’re going to need to answer before you start building your website. The answer to this question is 100% custom to you and your specific use-case. Do you need a website that is interactive and drives inbound leads? Are you already booked for the foreseeable future so you need a static website that accurately describes your products and services?
Prior to any development, understanding why you’re creating a website will help you craft the correct strategy and help you measure the return on your efforts.
2. Define Your Target Market
Who do you need to reach?
You know what they say, if you try to reach everyone, you will reach no one. This is something that you want to avoid, and to avoid this, define the people that you want your website to attract. Determining your target marketing is something you want to do as early as possible as it will affect everything that you do. The content that you develop, the research that you complete, and the design that you use will all be centered around attracting the right people.
3. SEO Research
How is your website going to attract your target market?
Well, by being search engine optimized, of course! You could have a beautiful, custom-crafted website, that is interactive and really pops, put if it’s not finding the right people, how valuable is it? Search engine optimization (SEO) is a long-term play that is designed to bring the right people to your website. You will want to do research on what type of keywords your target market is searching for. To do this, you can use a number of free tools. We recommend digging into the Google Keyword Planner.
Let me reemphasize that SEO is part of your long-term vision. If you use the right SEO strategy, over time, you will see results, but the impact will not be immediate.
4. Organize Your Pages
How many pages are going to be on your site and what is your menu bar going to look like?
Building out a sitemap of the organization of your pages is a good idea. You will have this divided into your top level pages, which are the pages that will be visible on the menu, second level pages, which will be the drop down menu items, and, if you need them, the third level pages, which will be menu items under the second level pages.
Your pages and the organization are important on a few different levels. The first is simply how it looks. You want to have a navigation bar that is simple, clean, and concisely tells the visitor how to navigator your website. Outside of the appearance, your pages will have an effect on your SEO. Consider the pages to be the chapters of a book. Each page will have its own content that is specific to that page title and will rank for its own keywords.
5. Get Your Pictures Ready
A picture says a thousand words.
If you put two sites side by side, and one has great pictures, and the other doesn’t, it’s safe to assume the site with the nice pictures will experience higher-engagement. Start organizing the pictures that you want for your website. Don’t have any pictures that you deem worthy of putting on your website? That’s ok. There are a number of free resources out there that provide you with free, stock pictures. While stock pictures are not ideal, they will at least help you get the process started. However, if you are using stock pictures, try to make sure you keep in the back of your mind that you’re going to want to swap those out with relevant pictures that show your business operating.
Websites that contain pictures of the actual business perform better than those that are using stock pictures, but website that contain stock pictures perform better than those that don’t have any pictures at all.
6. Find A Design & Layout The Works For You
What is the site going to look like?
Start by doing research on your competitors and analyzing their websites. Obviously, you want to be original and make your website your own, but doing this will at least give you visibility into what other companies in your industry are doing. The design of your website is EXTREMELY important. I know what you’re thinking, “you make websites, so obviously you think that”. While yes, this is true, the stats show that it takes a user 0.05 seconds to form an opinion of your website. This is just one, of many, eye-opening stats on the importance of your website design, view more here: https://www.sweor.com/firstimpressions.
You want your design to be simple and easy for your user to find the information they’re looking for. Don’t bog them down with a lot of unnecessary content. When in doubt, less is more.
7. Start Developing Content
What is your website going to say?
When it comes to performing websites, content is king. The content on the website is how you’re going to convert your visitors and how Google is going to know what keywords to push you for. However, it is important to remember the quality over quantity element. You want to develop high quality, concise content that is relevant to what the visitor is looking for. If your content is not relevant, that will lead to a poor experience for the visitor and decrease your chances of converting a visitor.
Every page on your website needs to have high-quality content, but if there’s a page you’re really going to knock out of the park, make it your about us page. The about us page on websites are the most visited page.
8. Get Google Analytics & The Search Console
How are you going to measure the effectiveness of your website?
Google Analytics and The Google Search Console are both free tools that will give you transparency into the people that are coming to your website. Google Analytics is a great tool to show you who is coming to your website, how they landed on the site, and what level engagement they have on it. This is important to know so you can see if you’re hitting your goals. The Google Search Console is similar, but will show you the specific keywords that you are ranking for. The search console is also where you’re going to need to submit your sitemap, which is very important for the overall SEO performance of your site
9. Set A Launch Date
When are we going live?
Give yourself a date that you want to have your website design project completed, and hold yourself accountable to that date! You don’t want to push out an unfinished project, but you also don’t want your website design project to hang over your head for an extended period of time. What you publish is not set in stone. You can go back into the website and make edits after it is launched, and we recommend you do so. At the end of the day, you’ve worked your tail off on building a website for your business, so set it live for the world to see!