Impressive websites require proper planning and clear communication of goals and requirements. What clients do not often anticipate is how much effort goes into laying the groundwork before the website design can get started, if they want their website to be good that is. In fact, the more well guided preparation one does ahead of time, and the more organized the project scope, the quicker the development time and the lower the budget will be.
Below are crucial steps one can take before calling a website agency to build their website. Your business or organization will get more accurate quotes if you prepare this information in advance. If you have this information prepared ahead of time, we think more agencies will take you seriously as well.
First of all, you should ask yourself, why do you need your website for?
- Are you simply looking for more reach?
- Lead generation? Increased conversions?
- Do you want to sell, or sell more, online (Ecommerce)?
- Do you need a website as a public relations vehicle?
- Are you looking to extend hours of operation (24/7)?
- Could the website be for reputation management?
- All of the above?
Then ask, “What could I add to my website to accomplish this?” Your web design agency should have ideas if you could simply wrap your head around what you want a website for.
Create a List of Competitors
Create a list of competitors that you are aiming to beat in order from the best (closest, most important, most impressive design) to the worst. If you are building the newest website for your industry you should aim to beat competition. A great tool to study what your likely users find important is to look at what your competitors offer on their website. ATAK Interactive would research all your competitors so we build a competitive advantage via better organization, added tools competitors may have left out, etc.
Create a List of Sites You Like
Taste is very subjective. Creating a list of websites you like is going to give your web design team perspective before they start. This helps an agency see what you see and opens up important questions that has to be asked which is what your corporate culture is all about. A web development agencies main goal is to design the best website for you, your staff, and your customers by providing them a comfortable and elite website. A collaborative effort is needed because no one knows your business like you, and you have to recognize you do not necessarily know everything about website design, and maybe design in general. Your agency will get into your head as much as they feel is important, but they also know what works online where you may not necessarily understand best practice.
You should preliminarily brainstorm on what pages you think your website should have. One sample breakdown could be:
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Video Center
- Customer Service
- Contact Us
- Site Map
The above list is just a short example. Some sites can be much bigger and some smaller, even a single page. Ecommerce websites have many more sections such as product pages, checkout, and my account area pages. Start this process by creating a list of pages you think would be right for you. Your website development agency will then work with you to finalize the page breakdown so perfect for your business.
Write Your Content and Prepare Required Images
Your website development agency wants to give you the best design they can for every page. To accomplish this your agency needs the right content for each page. Based on your page breakdown prepare text for all of those pages and if you require any specific images for a page you should prepare those and write directions on what images to use on which pages. Also send requirements or other things to include like videos for your website.
Will you want a blog? You should!
Adding a blog to your website may be an added expense, but if a goal for your website is more reach, the blog is certainly one way to get that reach. Adding content to your website is crucial for Google to find you important. Further, Google also favors sites that have a lot of updates, relevant (for today) content. You will not be able to change service page text every month. A blog is a great place to do this. Further, your SEO team will use this content to get you links back to your website. Decide what categories you are willing to blog about and then start writing a few posts (at least 5) for the website launch. A blog post includes a title, date, the category the post belongs in, the author, and you can include an image or a YouTube video.
Use Keywords in Your Content
What do you think potential customers are typing into google to find what you offer? This is an important question you should have a guess on before the website design work starts. We suggest our customers simply guess at least 25-30 keywords or/and phrases for their website. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is very important in terms of your website being easily found, and SEO is an effective way to increase traffic to your site. Your website design company needs those keywords to create elements in your design to make sure your website can be crawled and exposed to searchers. At the very minimum, even if you do not hire an SEO agency for more service, you should have keywords (Meta data) inserted into all of your website pages (title tags, Meta tags, keywords) and each page should be slightly different, ideally.
Prepare a Logo
You should prepare a logo for your website and explain to your website development agency limitations in terms of tweaking around your logo for a better outcome or fit in certain places. If your web development agency does logo design, then you do not have to worry about this step if you plan to hire them to do it.
Buy Your URL (Godaddy.com)
You should decide what your website’s URL will be and then visit Godaddy.com and pay for your URL with the optional time periods (we recommend 3 years). ATAK recommends the URL should be the name of the business or something with the main service or product in the url, for example www.bestvacuum.com or www.joansonthird.com. Buy your URL before someone else does 😉
Set Up Your Social Media Profiles
Decide which social media outlets you want to use and set up your profiles in advance so your website programmer can sync all of your social media profiles into your website. If you have these done in advance your web developer can easily brand your profiles as well with your logo.
Register with Google (maps, places, Google +, YouTube)
Eventually, you should have all these accounts for your website so it is better to just register with “everything Google” before the hard work begins. Google is the key search engine right now and you should invest time in their ecosystem of online business solutions to ensure favor.
Decide What E-mail Addresses You Need
Write down all the e-mails you will be using for your website. This is a good time to think about who needs an address and what their email address should be. You can set one email to forward to others if some people need to get email from info@ for example. Do not set up accounts yet. Your website email, for most, will be hosted the same place as your website. Your website company should help you decide where you website will be hosted.
In conclusion, as Website Development, Ecommerce, and SEO Specialists we at ATAK Interactive want to put out the best work we can for our clients. If one can prepare the information outlined above, there is so much more that can be done in a much shorter amount of time. The goal behind this checklist is to provide our customers better websites developed as efficiently as possible.
Enjoy your homework class 😉