So you’ve finally decided that it’s time for a new website. Great! Remember though, a website is a tool and, like any other tool, it will only be effective if you use it effectively and keep it in optimal condition.
Whether you are hiring a web designer or building the site yourself, creating a website can be a stressful process. I’ve seen people go months without knowing when their designer will complete the work. Here are 8 things to think about and write down that will ultimately save you time and money.
1. Come up with a single message or pitch.
The message is the most important aspect of your website. You want it to be more than just an online business card. What is it that you do differently? What problems do you solve and for whom? Your home page should answer these questions in as few words as possible.
2. Decide how you will enhance your message to convert your visitors into followers and fans.
If you want your message to stick, you will need to have free content throughout your website that connects with your visitors. This can be a portfolio of your visuals, a blog, social media feeds, a music player, podcast, etc. As long as the content remains consistent with your message, your followers will keep coming back for more. Be sure to have a decent amount of content ready before you get started.
3. Come up with a way to convert your visitors into buyers.
Ultimately websites cost money, so you will need to systematically get a return on your investment. Will you be selling a product in an online store? Will you be using Google AdSense to monetize traffic? Do you want visitors to fill out an email contact or a request for callback form? There are countless things you can do with your website, so decide what is the most effective for your product or service.
4. Think about your budget, but leave room for the unexpected.
It can be tricky at times to budget a website design project. You want your brand to appear on the enterprise level without paying enterprise dollars.
When meeting with a graphic designer, you sometimes find out that you may have to do without a lot of the bells and whistles that you initially thought you needed. Designers generally bill hourly and things tend to take longer than expected, so be prepared with your content and clear with your goals.
5. Create a sitemap.
A sitemap is way of organizing your pages and sub pages. You draw a circle in the middle that represents your home page and connect all of your sub-pages around it. There are plenty of sitemap applications that allow you to do this digitally.
You can even attach files and links so you can keep all of your content assets in one place! Create a sitemap for your website before you meet with a designer and you can most likely get a discount on your quote. (I use XMind myself!!)
6. Reference other websites in your niche or category.
Take a look at your competition. What seems to be working for them that you can implement in your own website? Also, take a look at what features are available in other non-related niches that you can implement. (You can even reference these in your sitemap!)
7. Decide between a free drag-and-drop website or paid hosting.
Most people starting out with their first website will use ‘drag-and-drop’ builder sites like Wix, Weebly, etc. These are free services that make it easy for the non-coder to build a website. The problem with those sites is that they don’t have the flexibility that a self-hosted website would have, which will hinder you as your business needs expand.
Starting a website strictly for blogging on free sites like WordPress.com, Blogger or Tumblr isn’t a bad idea. Although, when you are ready to get rid of the “.tumblr.com” and use your own domain name, you’ll want to pay for your own hosting; and, it’s easy to find low-cost web hosting these days.
8. Do it yourself or hire someone else.
As I mentioned before, many people opt to do their website themselves….initially. A few that I know personally went the DIY route and, three months later, they had nothing to show for it. If it’s your first site, it may be a good idea to at least consult with a designer (and YouTube of course) before getting started on your own.
Outsourcing to have your website built can seem like a big step, but it pays off big-time if you are prepared and know what you want.
I personally recommend purchasing your own web hosting, your own domain name (it can be less than $100 per year for both with Alavon Hosting) and using the open source version of WordPress. It’s easy enough to learn on your own (again…with YouTube, of course) and flexible enough to do everything you can possibly think of.
Having an organized vision for what you want with your website, however you decide to have it developed, could save you hours, weeks and even months. That translates into hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of dollars saved.
Is there anything else that helped you throughout the process of getting your website designed? Leave a comment below and share with us!!!