Planning a successful website
There are five steps to a successful website - and we can help you with them all!
Before you go out to tender to find a good website designer/developer, it is essential you are clear about what you want your website to do for you, your organisation, or your business. You need to prepare a brief which will ensure the resulting website works for you - not the designer! Planning well can save you a lot of problems - and money - in the long run.
How the website developer responds to your brief will help you decide who to choose to do the work. All creative people will tell you that they achieve the most for clients who know what they want, and are very clear about the brief.
- Clarify what the website aims to achieve (its 'call to action') and how that will be evaluated
- Agree WHO the website is aimed at, WHAT information they are seeking and HOW the new website will meet that demand
- Finalise core 'sections' (pages) of the proposed website and what information those pages will contain, and in what format (eg simple text and links, interactive listings, images, documents to print off, interactive map etc)
- Create a schematic 'web map' showing core sections, sub-pages (drop-down lists) and internal links (what goes where)
- Consider what you might need in terms of, for example, sign-up forms for newsletters, news links, a blog, e-commerce requirements, password-protected elements
- Agree Content Management System (CMS) requirements which allows you, the client, to maintain and update the content of the website in future.
- If you don't already have one, develop a design identity/logo/branding as this will lead the design of the website (eg colours, fonts)
2 Content development
Prepare introductory text for the Welcome/Home page and for each section and gather any required files - images (all images will need to be copyright-free or used with written permission from image owner), Word documents, pdfs etc) for each section. Writing for websites has its own rules and needs to encourage Search Engine Optimisation. Text needs to be kept to a minimum but should be informative and authoritative, with links to more information if required.
3 Website design & development
Using everything you have agreed during your planning process, draw up a detailed brief for a website developer to respond to. Include your schematic web map, some samples of the sort of website style you like (and a couple you don't!). Ask around for recommendations - or ask us!
4 Launch of website and web optimisation
Launching a website needs to be supported with a marketing campaign to tell people it's there - in addition to working on your search engine optimisation (SEO) to ensure your website comes out on top in searches. SEO can need some expert support from webmarketeers, but understanding what your customers or clients are looking for, and then including key words, is ultimately at the heart of it. There are free analytics programs available to help you understand how people are reaching your site, and what they do once they get there.
5 Maintaining & updating website
Websites need maintaining in terms of the 'back room' techie stuff, but above all, they need to be kept regularly updated with new information. A content management system which allows you, the client, to update the website is fantastic - so long as you have the time and resource to update it. Be realistic about that; you will need to spend some time every week (and in terms of a e-commerce, every day and potentially every hour of the day) to keep it interesting and relevant.