Regardless of what aspect of a business we talk about, planning is everything, and this holds true when you are planning an amazing business website as well. Today, businesses, big and small, from every sector need to have an online presence, in the form of a website. It gives you the visibility you need, helps you maintain a professional presence in the market, and helps extend your business reach.
But designing a website that meets your business goals, reflects your corporate culture, and helps you portray a robust image takes a considerable amount of planning. A hurried and poorly planned web design project will only mean that certain features don’t work as they should, the information isn’t where it should be, or you may omit to add some things altogether.
Proper planning and detailed discussions with your web designer will help to rule out the chance of miscommunication. It will also help keep things on track and give the project a clear direction. When you work systematically, it also helps prevent backtracking and rework and ensures your website design is completed within the required timeframe.
Steps to Follow
When you work with a skilled and experienced web design professional, they will make sure your business website is designed correctly and is in line with your needs and budget.
However, as the business owner, you must have a good understanding of what’s involved in the project and the steps you need to follow to plan a fantastic website. Here we take a closer look at these steps and help you create the perfect foundation and structure for your proposed business website:
- The Purpose and Goals of the Site are Important
At the outset, you need to ask yourself some basic questions, such as what is the purpose of the site. Do you want to extend your business reach and gain more publicity or are propagating a cause and need to rally more support behind it? If you want to create a site explicitly with the intent of making sales, that’s something you need to keep at the forefront of the planning process.
This crucial component often gets shifted to the back burner, while business owners focus more on the overall design and appearance of their site. They have a good idea about how they want the content be displayed and which products and services they want to feature. But if all these components aren’t aligned with your goal and the purpose of the site, it won’t be as effective as you like it to be.
The reason you are building the website has to be at the core of all the planning. Identify who your target audience is and have clear-cut marketing goals set in place. You can use analytics tools like Google Analytics, to monitor your site’s performance over time.
- Set a Budget
Whether you are a well-established, medium-sized business, or a startup, you must create a budget for all your digital marketing strategies, and this includes expenses related to your website. There are many things to consider including web design and development, hosting, security, design and content upgrades, and more. Be proactive and conduct the necessary research and discuss your requirements with a professional web designer.
While it is crucial to compare pricing, that isn’t the only thing you should be focusing on. Like many other things, in web design too, what you pay is what you get. Saving a few dollars now can lead to you paying more later with many more hassles and an unimpressive website. It’s crucial to hire the services of a web design team that has relevant experience, is creative and insightful, and can be looked at as a partner to help your company grow while getting your companies message online. They should have a robust body of work and be willing to provide references.
- Create a Detailed Content Strategy
Just as it is vital to have excellent website design, the content displayed on your site needs to be relevant, engaging, and of value to your customers. Content refers to all the things that offer your visitors the information they need. This includes everything from text, videos, infographics, blog posts, images, and slideshows to all the embedded social media feeds such as Facebook page updates or even your Instagram and Twitter stream.
Content strategy can never be static, and designing a website and posting content is a dynamic process. Over time, you would need to revisit the content and add, remove, or alter it as required. Content marketing and development is a crucial component of your website and online strategy, and you need to identify a skilled and experienced content writer to develop the message. The person should be versatile enough to create content that aligns with your business needs.
- Focus on Your Website Structure
You need to decide which pages you need to create and what features and information each one will hold. Some pages such as “About Us” & “Contact Us” are integral to all sites. In addition to the home page, depending on the services and/or products you offer, you may need separate pages for them.
- Make Sure the Web Designer Creates a wireframe and a Mock-up
A wireframe is the broad outline of your site. The initial design that the expert provides is the first draft. This mock-up is typically created through software such as Adobe Illustrator, and it’s just a basic outline, without too many details. All the pages will have placeholder text, and the actual content and features will only come in later. The wireframe is created to give you an idea of what your site will look like. This is the time to get ideas and discuss those with the designer so they can incorporate them into the final design.
- The Usability Factor
Good design is something that you should never compromise on. This includes functionality and aesthetics. A lack-luster site with uninspiring design and ill-planned layout will only drive visitors away. During the design phase, there are certain usability features to keep in mind, such as:
- Focus on ease of navigation- research indicates that most online users are conditioned to horizontal navigation, centered along the top of the pages.
- Use a limited number of fonts from the same or complementing families and make sure they are legible.
- Use contrasting background and text colors so that the latter is easy to read.
- Modern-day customers will access your website via various devices. It’s why you need to use responsive website design. It will help ensure that your website fits different screen sizes easily.
- Do not use heavy images and other media, as that will only slow down your site speed. Users today have very short attention spans, and if the pages are slow to load, they will steer away to a competitor site.
- Make sure that your company logo and tagline (if applicable) are visible and properly positioned on the home page and the banners of other pages too.
- Maintain consistency in style and colors across your website.
- Use clear and concise copy. Make sure that all the crucial features and content are placed above the fold, so visitors don’t have to scroll to access it.
- Discuss your needs with the designer and ensure that the solutions they offer are scalable. This will give you the flexibility to make changes as needed in the future.
- Once most of the features and content are in place, test out the website. Visit every page and click on every link to make sure it works and isn’t a dead end.
- The images should be correctly sized as do the infographics etc.
- Check the site in various browsers such as Google Chrome, Internet Explorer Firefox, and on Opera Mini and Safari, which are mobile web browsers.
- Visit the site via various devices such as different smartphones, tablets, iPads, and laptops to ensure that it’s working correctly on all of them. The website needs to have a consistent appearance on all browsers.
- Make sure that all the placeholder content has been replaced with the actual content.
- Check whether all the input fields and forms are working as they should.
- Prioritize Site Maintenance
Even after your site goes live, the work doesn’t end. As mentioned earlier, your website is a dynamic entity, and website maintenance is a crucial component of the process. Some things you need to focus on include:
- Use analytics software to get a better understanding of what’s working and what isn’t.
- Make the necessary changes, replace and update content as you go along. Maintain the freshness of the site without making any significant changes.
- Monitor site security and make sure that you have skilled and capable web developers maintaining all the aspects of your business website.
- Revisit your goals and make sure that your site is still relevant and useful.
- Get feedback from people you know and determine whether using that feedback to make changes improves the usability and popularity of your site.
When you take the time and effort to plan your website correctly, it will provide a good return on your investment and you will have an incredible solution that solidifies your brand online.