Whether you are starting a business, a blog, or a non-profit organization, there will come a time when you will need a website. This means you’ll need to have it designed and developed. In addition, there are a few more things that you will need to consider. Ask yourself these ten questions before you start so you can provide your website designer and developers with the best possible chance to understand your needs right from the start.
1. What is your choice domain name?
The domain name is the URL that people will type in to visit your website. Your website will be built on a hosted server and the domain name will need to point to that server so people can visit your website by typing in the domain name. If you have a pet grooming service, it’s easier to remember the name puppycuts.com than to remember 220.127.116.11/~username. In order of choice preference, provide the top five domain names that you want. If puppycuts.com isn’t available, perhaps consider other names like puppycuts.net, pupcut.com or doggiecuts.com. Popular domain registrars are GoDaddy, Register and Network Solutions.
2. Who will be your audience?
Consider age ranges, interests and the demographic of potential site visitors. How do you want them to use the website and what should visitors of the site come away with? What are your website’s short and long-term goals?
3. What type of content will you present on your website?
Consider sections and features that you would want to be included. A few choices to consider is logos quotes, calls to action, a slogan, slideshows, calendars, events, photo galleries, portfolios, links, search, testimonials, featured items, online store, a blog, account sign-in, an FAQ page, and google maps integration. Does some of this content currently exist or would it need to be developed?
4. How will your website communicate your brand?
The look and feel of your website should reflect your brand. You need to ensure that the logo, fonts and colors are consistent throughout. If you don’t have a logo, consider fonts that you like or color palettes. Think about background images, gradients or textures. Ask yourself if you want to look trendy or classical. Should your brand convey trust, excitement, knowledge, or sophistication? Perhaps you want a “corporate”, artistic or minimalist site.
5. Do you want a CMS?
Logging in through a back-end Content Management System (CMS) will allow to make changes to your website on your own. This is very handy because you can have your site updated the instant you need it to be. We use the open-source CMS WordPress to build most of the websites for our clients. It’s easy to use and supported by a community of developers and users. It’s no surprise that many successful companies like The New Yorker, Sony Music, and Best Buy, use WordPress to manage their content.
6. What will be the basic look and feel of your website?
Perhaps there is a pre-developed free or paid theme that would work for you. A pre-developed theme will cut your design cost leaving your developer a few style changes to customize to your brand. There has been a tremendous contribution of free WordPress themes you can find on WordPress.org and many excellent paid themes available on developer sites like Themeforest by Envato and Mojo Themes. Make note of websites that you like or elements like the header or the slideshow, which your developer can use for inspiration.
7. How social are you?
Social media is word-of-mouth to the millionth power so it goes without saying that using social media and having social media icons or social feeds on your website are highly recommended. Why would you not want to make it easy for people to follow you on a daily basis.
8. How about a newsletter?
Much research has been done to indicate the benefits of e-newsletters and it has shown that it is more cost effective to grow your business by increasing revenue and referrals from existing clients than in pursuing new clients. A subscriber list of your business relationships is a very valuable asset for your business. Once your website is finished, an email newsletter subscribe form will expand your list by allowing people to easily opt-in to your subscriber list. Keep your newsletters informative and fun. Do not use your newsletter to solicit your services directly. Instead, create relationships with your current and potential clients by providing advice, insight and resources within your filed of expertise. This will create trust and establish you as a professional resource over time. Including a couple blogs in your newsletters 6 to 12 times a year is really all you need to keep your business fresh in your reader’s minds.
9. Should you have an FAQ page?
If you find yourself asking or answering the same questions when talking to clients, you should consider an FAQ page to quickly address concerns an address these basic questions when potential customers are browsing your website.
10. To blog or not to blog?
There are so many reasons to start a blog but for businesses, the most important one is traffic. When you publish a blog post, it’s another indexed page on your website, which means it’s one more opportunity for you to show up in search engines and drive traffic to your website in an organic search. Google wants people to have a great user experience on their search engine, so they’re always looking to improve their algorithms to have people find what they want easier. The more hits to your website, the higher your web presences so when people search Google with keywords pertaining to your business, Google says, “Hey! This website is pretty popular. There’s a good chance that this person will find a solution on this website! Let’s serve this one up in the search results!”. Not that Google actually talks to itself, but you get the point.
Answer these 10 questions and you are well on your way to ensuring that your website will represent your brand and work well for your business.