When you want to start a new website project, it saves a lot of time and money to come as prepared as possible. It can also make the difference of launching your website on time or not. Here are some of the best things you can do to prepare.
Start Collecting Your Content
Your web designer will need your content in order to make design decisions, so the majority of the content needs to be put together before the real web design work begins. Collecting and creating content will likely be the longest part of the project, so we recommend starting as soon as possible. To do that, you need to start thinking about the ‘site map’:
Start by deciding the main pages of the website and the hierarchy of how they go together. Take a look at competitor websites to get ideas, and create a Google Doc or Microsoft Word file for each page. Make sure to include a page title, the text, images and any links.
We recommend having at least 300 words per page, for the main pages that you want to rank for on search engines (aka SEO). Also, make sure to focus on adding a variety of keywords – for example, a Chiropractor would use words like “chiropractor, chiropractic, back pain, spinal adjustment, etc” in their content.
Choose Your Domain Name
Your domain name is your address on the internet. Typically it would be something like: www.yourcompany.com
If you don’t already have a domain name, you should start researching your options. To do this, go a website like https://ca.godaddy.com/ and use the (free) search tool to try different options. We recommend using .com, .ca, .co or .net for most businesses.
Your web designer can help you get this registered if you would like, but make sure you have your first and second choice option ready.
If you already have a domain name that you want to continue using, then your web designer will need to be able to access the account you purchased it from. This is sometimes different from the web host. You will need to collect your user name and password for your domain account, and for your hosting account.
Understand Your Audience
One of the first steps in developing a successful website project is understanding who your main target audience is and what they will be doing on your website. This can be done by creating customer personas (also known as customer ‘avatar’s) to group and narrow down attributes of those people. Here are some popular categories to begin thinking about this audience:
- Marital status
- Opinions and attitudes
- Benefits sought
Then begin to think about:
- How would they get to your website?
- What information does your audience want/need?
- What information do they need in order to convert into customers?
- What will bring them back again?
- What kind of experience do they need to have in order to recommend your business?
Understand Your Data (if redesigning)
One of the greatest powers of Digital Media is the ability to gather data on your users. If you have an existing website, reviewing your tracking software can help you thoroughly understand your audience and how they use your website. You can see what pages they visit, how long they stay for, how they fit into your ‘customers avatar’, how they are getting to your website, and more.
One example might be a business that poured a lot of effort into a details ‘About Us’ section with bios and photos for all the staff during their first website creation. When reviewing the data, they can see that it is one of the least visited pages on the website. Why spend time and money re-developing a page that is rarely viewed?
Here are a few software apps you may want to install on your current website, to learn more before starting your new project, or to continue to get insight after you launch your new project: