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Your first website: Everything you need to know before building it

    |     10-12 mins read     |     Article by Kelvin

Starting your first business website can be tricky. The experience can be made worse if you are unprepared and don't' know what to expect.

What you should have ready first

Before you embark on building a website it is best to have certain things ready in advance so you can get the best outcome from the project.

1.Get a business logo designed

You can make a website without a logo but why would you. A well-designed logo shows that a business is trustworthy and legitimate. It will also help with brand recognition when trying to grow your business. If you haven't already we strongly advise you to get one before starting. Get in touch if you need one created for you

2.Buy a domain name first

A domain name is the address people type in the browser to find your business. It is a good idea to have one chosen prior to starting a website. Aim to have a domain name that is easy to remember and easy to say. If possible try to squeeze in your business keywords too.

3.Setup a business email

If you want to be taken seriously then you need a business email. Using a Gmail or Yahoo mail account is unprofessional and makes it harder to grow your business down the line. All you need is to buy a domain name in order to set up your business emails. Alternatively, you can subscribe to collaboration apps like GSuite to manage your email for your business.

4.Know your target audience

Are you focused on local, national or international markets? Will you be targeting male or female consumers? What age group will they belong to? Knowing the answers to those questions is important for your web design. When you know your audience you can design your website to specifically appeal to and connect with them. When your audience makes a connection with your business it becomes easier for them to buy into your products and services.

5.An idea of appearance and style

If you don't have a clear idea of what you want then the easiest thing is to look for websites that appeal to you (and more importantly the ones that don't). See what your competitor's websites look like. If you aren't inspired by theirs then find examples of styles you like. A good web designer will advise if those styles are suitable and suggest alternatives if your examples aren't appropriate. In fact, try not to base the entire web design on your preferences alone. In the end, your website will be used by your customers so it might be better to design it according to their preferences instead.

Have an idea of appearance and styles and include websites you like to show as examples.

6.The words on your pages

Most business owners don’t think about that. When they do it’s usually halfway through the project. Builds that should take a few weeks can sometimes turn into months because the wording was an afterthought. It’s easy to know how many pages you want but it’s more important to have the words for those pages ready before the project begins. We genuinely can't place enough importance on having your content ready first.

7.Your existing brand assets

If you already have a logo then your brand colours should already be picked out. You might also have existing marketing materials (brochures etc) and want to incorporate those styles. Send any previously designed assets related to your business brand. These assets may assist the designer during the web design process.

Know what it costs to run a website

1.SSL Certificate

An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate offers protection for websites. It allows visitors to send sensitive data securely. Having an SSL cert means your website can be trusted and is credible. Normally charged on a yearly basis cost can range from $0 to $500 per year. Higher costing certificates have better warranties, better encryption standards, and better payouts if something does go wrong.

2.Website hosting

Web hosting allows your website to be viewed online. There is a range of different hosting options to choose from. What you go with will impact site speed, customer support, downtime, and how big your site can grow. Charged monthly or yearly, costs can vary between $25 per month (low traffic sites) to $1000 per month (sites with 100,000 monthly visitors or more).

3.Domain name

A unique address for your business website that ends as a .com or .com.au. Domain names are necessary for visitors to find your website. They cost between $15-$50 and must be renewed annually. It doesn't matter if you previously owned it. If you don't renew it then someone else can buy it.

If you don't renew your domain name then there's no guarantee someone else won't purchase it.

How many pages do you actually need for a website?

There are certain pages we believe that every website should have. We have listed pages we recommend and optional pages depending on your requirements.

Essential Pages

These are your 'pillar' pages and having them on your website is necessary to compete online. Without these essential pages, your website may suffer ranking and credibility issues in Google

  • Homepage
  • Services/Products
  • About
  • Contact Us
  • Privacy/Terms

Optional Pages

These pages enhance your business website and help it rank better in the long run. Content is still king and adding some of these pages will definitely increase the content density of your website

  • Blog
  • FAQs
  • Image Gallery
  • Video Gallery
  • Case Studies
  • Client Testimonials
  • Latest Projects/Works
  • Pricing (comparison tables)
  • 404 pages

WordPress...do you really need it?

WordPress is the most popular Content Management System (CMS) and powers 30% of the world's websites. But do you really need it? Ask yourself one question to decide whether you need it for your business. Will you be writing articles on a regular basis?

If you don't intend to blog then maybe you should hold off getting it. You see WordPress was originally created to make blogging easy for anybody to do. It was made solely for that reason although nowadays it has outgrown that singular purpose.

Wanting a WordPress website because everybody else has one isn't a great reason to get it. There is a lot of unspoken ongoing maintenance and costs associated with owning one that most web designers don't bring up.

However, if you plan on releasing articles once a month or have marketing and SEO strategies to implement then WordPress can do that for you. Another reason to get WordPress is if you intend to work with a digital agency. Otherwise, save your money and only get it when you need it.

You won't need WordPress if you are not blogging or writing articles on a regular basis

Tips to achieving the best results when working with a designer

The biggest hurdles in working together are poor communication and unrealistic expectations. For a successful website project, both parties must always be on the same page throughout the entire process. Cooperation is the key to achieving the best results

Minimise problems by getting the correct things ready and setting realistic expectations right from the start.

Tip 1.Communicate your vision

The best way to explain your ideas is to speak the language designers understand. Below are a few ways to express your ideas to a designer when discussing the look and feel

1.1 General Style

Do you want your website to look Corporate, Modern, Friendly, Sophisticated, Minimal, Funky, Youthful, Artistic, Casual or a combination of styles.

1.2 Imagery to use

Do you want to use free or high-quality stock images? Can the images include people in it or just landscape shots? Do you only want to use custom-designed graphics?

1.3 Colour Scheme

Describe colours in terms of Light, Dark, Warm, Cool, Colourful or Pastel. Specify a colour you want to use or use the existing colours from your brand. Otherwise, let your designer choose a fitting colour that suits your business and industry.

Let your designer help you find the right Colour Scheme for your brand

Tip 2.Minimise frustrations

Clear communication between both parties is vital. It's important to be patient and express yourself clearly when discussing edits and changes. Below are a few things to be aware of so you can manage expectations early on in the project.

2.1 Being realistic

Be very clear about deadlines, the number of drafts or revisions and know that certain tasks are more time consuming than others.

2.2 Giving feedback

Feedback is a crucial step to getting the outcome you want. "Make it Pop" doesn't help a designer understand what's wrong. Phrase your feedback in a constructive manner and refer to specific examples. If there is something you don't like then say it in a clear concise manner and explain why. In the end, designers aren't mind readers so make sure to be patient and always communicate.

2.3 Creative Freedom

Give visual examples of what you like but remember, be open to the input and ideas of your designer and have faith in their creative abilities.

Conclusion

Being prepared is the difference between a good and a bad project outcome. Set the right expectations with your web designer from the start. Stay in close communication always but refrain from nagging and nitpicking. Be constructive with feedback to ensure you're both on the same page.

Written by Kelvin Chong

Kelvin is a web developer with a background in marketing and graphic design. He utilises both left and right sides of his brain to design websites that push the boundaries of creativity. When not designing he likes to cook with a wok, listen to Bob Marley and run amok with his wife and two little girls

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