In today’s climate, it is in no longer feasible to not have a website. Regardless of whether you expect to make money from it, a website is the heart of your organisation’s online presence.
No matter how big or small your following is, it’s essential to keep your consumers engaged, grow your reach and achieve long term sustainability. In this blog, we’re going to go through some of the fundamental components of building a successful website that can quickly become your greatest sales tool.
Regardless of whether you decide to build a website yourself or hire an agency, one of the first components of the web design process you need to consider is: which content management system (CMS) is best for your business. There are so many on the market, and it can be a pretty overwhelming concept, but there is no right or wrong answer. It’s about choosing a platform that fits well with the way you like to work. Below we’ve linked to some helpful blogs, guides and articles which include recommendations and ideas to help you make the decision that’s right for you.
Depending on which platform you choose, you’ll need to consider hosting. We talk more about this in our blog: What is Hosting.
It’s best practice to get a domain that suits your business, that’s why ours is www.supersonicplayground.com. However, if possible, you might also want to consider how you might incorporate a key term into your name so that it’s reflected in the domain, i.e. www.bromleybathroomcompany.co.uk. This is a useful technique for new businesses who are starting up in saturated markets, and having a domain name that indicates what you do can also help with search engine rankings.
Possibly the biggest decision you’ll make as a business is whether or not to outsource your website project. We’re a web design agency, so naturally, we’d always recommend hiring a professional (you wouldn’t let just anyone fix your car, so why would you with your website?), but there are benefits to insourcing too. If you’re just starting out and have a limited budget, then paying for a professional might not be a feasible decision, and that’s ok. The biggest thing to remember is that if you have a website and you do not see results, then it could be a result of not implementing certain things that we’ll talk about later on in this blog.
To read more about this subject in detail, check out our blog: insourcing vs outsourcing your marketing.
We always recommend setting a budget for the build of your website. This process can go one of two ways. You can either set a budget and then try to get a website for that price, or look at what features and functionality you want first and then get proposals so you can work out your potential ROI.
To help give you an idea of how much a website costs. We also put together these two blogs:
Don’t forget your time is money. You may technically save money by creating your website yourself. Still, if you could be earning more than you would spend by doing other, more important tasks in your business, then any savings are a false economy.
The web design process itself encompasses several stages, and the most successful websites will address each of these.
UX is probably the most important stage, and yet it’s also the most overlooked. Quite often, we see business owners and marketers make assumptions about their target market’s needs. It’s then no surprise when their website doesn’t perform as they haven’t engaged their audience and truly considered their needs. A user research stage involves reaching out to your target audience and finding out more about what makes them tick. User research is often broken up into several sub-stages (you can opt to do one or all of them):
For more information about each of these stages, their benefits, and why UX is so crucial in the web design process, check out our blog: The importance of UX in web design.
The visual design stage is where the sprinkle of creativity and visual magic is added to the wireframes (created during the UX stage), and it’s here that a website comes to life. The impact of this step is often underestimated, especially amongst DIY-ers, but the aesthetics of the site can make or break its success. The old cliché “first impressions count” stands true when it comes to your brand image. So making sure that your website aligns with your company’s brand, core values and mission while also being high quality and professional will all have an impact on the impression your customers get when they land on your site.
A visual design that is messy, un-aligned with your business and thrown together on a budget will give the impression that either you don’t care enough about your users to invest in their experience, or that business is struggling. All of this speaks volumes, especially when your competitors are ensuring that their user experience is all-consuming.
Back-end development is the code that powers the website and is where the ‘behind-the-scenes’ stuff takes place. This includes the creation of the admin area, any API connections to other systems such as databases, payment gateways and CRM systems.
The QA stage of the web design process is where every element of the website is tested. This includes how the site renders on all devices and browsers. Testing also ensures that buttons, links, and forms are generating the expected responses so that the user experience is not disjointed once the site has been launched.
Once every step has been completed and tested, the site can then be launched.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of increasing the quality and quantity of organic traffic your website receives through search engines such as Google. Whether you’re upgrading to a new site or launching for the first time, SEO plays an integral role in the process, from 301 redirects and keywords to alt tags and metadata. Without SEO, your site will struggle to rank in search results, especially in overpopulated markets, so it’s important to put content and SEO at the heart of your project.
For more information about the importance of SEO in the website build process see our blog: Why SEO & Web Design go hand in hand
Following the launch of your website, it can be beneficial to promote it using several free and paid-for methods in a bid to drive awareness, traffic and sales. Promotional methods include paid advertising such as social media, Google Ads and retargeting as well as free methods through organic social media and SEO. There are lots of ways to get your website out there, but one thing is for sure; if you don’t shout about your website, no one else will.
For more ideas about how to market your business for free see our blog: 10 (nearly) free ways to market your business
A website is never truly finished, and many people in the industry will tell you that most businesses require a new website every 2-5 years just to keep up with advancements in technology, trends and the ever-changing needs of the consumer. However, redesigns or new websites will be required less frequently if you continuously maintain your site with fresh content, updated visuals, testimonials and more. All of these elements build a healthy site which can support your search ranking while also keeping up with the latest news and trends to ensure you don’t fall behind the competition.
Discover why continuous improvement is the key to success in our blog: Why a GOOD website is never truly finished
As you can tell, the website creation process is seemingly complicated if you want to be successful. It can be as straightforward as picking a template and swapping out your content and images. But, if you’re going to excel online and make the most of this opportunity, we recommend following each of the stages we’ve explored in this blog and putting a focus on maintaining it with relevant, helpful content.
We hope you found this blog helpful, and if you’d like to discuss your website, please feel free to get in touch. Or, if you’d like to be the first to hear about our latest tips, blogs and guides, register for our newsletter below.