Guide to Building a Website
Free Website Design Guide
Learn how to make your next website project a winner.
Read our short website design guide below, to learn the secrets to a successful website project, featuring tips that you can implement straight away.
WEBSITE BUILDING – PLANNING PROCESS – 5 to 10 KEY STEPS
The 5 to 10 key steps of creating a professional web presence? One that works for your particular firm.
Relationship – Before you get started on your project, the most important thing to consider when engaging a web design agency to create a new website for you is the relationship you have with them. Do you like them? Do they make the process simple and clear, rather than getting all technical and confusing. Do they have a track record – ideally in your own industry? Have you checked with some of their previous clients? Get this right before you commit to anyone. Nothing is more important than getting the right web design agency for your firm, it is more important than the investment or cost. Do this before starting to build any website. Then follow these 5 steps to building your website and maybe the 5 optional or ‘b’ steps, to get the results you really want from a good website.
Step 1 – Preliminary discussion or Discovery – Discuss in detail your goals, what you really want to achieve with this new website, sales, leasds, enquiries, time saving etc.
The web design agency Project Manager writes the proposed Brief together ‘with’ you, the Client, branding guidelines, design, the pages and content required, suggested page layout etc. You know your business better than the web design agency. The Brief should basically repeat back to you what you want to achieve and how.
Who is the website for?
And what do you want to achieve?
If the Project Manager can really understand your business well and what you want to do online, they can better deliver the results you want.
What problem do you solve? And for whom?
Do you need to do this project in stages? How will your budget dictate these stages?
What functionality is required now or in the future? Membership, Client login, Payment Gateway, Blog, ChatBot, eCommerce Shop or online payment portal, Wholesale login, RSS Feed, Social Media integration.
Agree any investment or costs and payments structure up front. Do not shy away from discussing money at this point. Without an agreed budget and deliverables, you will never get what you want.
The Project Manager will study and research what your competitors are doing online and how to get you ahead of them in search engine results for key phrases and in subsequent conversions.
Discuss logical goal setting and a Digital Marketing Plan or Digital Strategy, along with planned tactics to promote awareness of your new website and the services to be offered.
What are you going to offer online? Does anybody want what you are offering?
Have you asked your existing clients what they want, why they deal with you and how a better web presence could help them trade better with you. Get your existing clients to tell you what to build rather than just guess what they might want to see, and just hope for the best.
From this should come a comprehensive written Brief, a handbook or plan for everyone involved from Marketing to Design to Development to any Sales team. Everyone involved should read it and avail of this opportunity to have their say.
Note Step 1B: Separately we would highly recommend doing detailed keyword research and plan the keyword mapping. It is an optional step, but is the right thing to do.
Step 2 – Layout & Mockup – how it should your website look and flow. Allow some budget for your Home page design and for any subsequent page that needs custom graphic design.
The web design agency will put together your proposed page layout structure or wireframe for your approval along with your information architecture showing the proposed user flow, much like an architects initial drawing.
Then they create a Custom Graphic Design Mockup or offer a design theme option for your approval, after which you can agree the technical requirements, agree the website platform to be used, WordPress, Drupal, Joomla? Is there to be any other functionality?
Step 2B Option to engage the graphic designer to design all the main pages. Again it is optional, but it is great for you to see all your main pages designed in advance of any development.
Step 3 – Website Content – This is where you, the client, has to produce the goodies…
The web design agency will discuss and collect any required original content from you the client or content creator for every page, including text, prepared and sized good quality images, video, etc for every single page. Take note, this is your responsibility and this is where you need to invest in your time. Or subcontract to a content creator.
Finalise design, create a final draft for approval and do any last revising and tweaking. The content part can take a lot of time, probably more than you might have envisaged. Think about the prospective visitors and create something that is worth viewing, something interesting, of value, useful or entertaining.
The website frame is 1170 pixels wide,across a screen, allowing for a full width image 980 wide. In a Gallery the images are typically half that width, 600 pixels wide each whilst article images are maybe 300 wide – which is about one quarter the width of the computer screen view. All images should be small size files, ideally under 100kb each and have a logical naming convention, such as web-design-team-talking-with-client.jpg
Step 3B Option to engage a professional copywriter to create all the written content for the main pages. And a professional photographer to produce great photos.
Step 4 – Website Development – Once the client has agreed the Brief and approved the Custom design, as well as supplying ALL the content required for the pages, then the Development team can get started. Having read the Brief, they will build out all the pages based on an agreed Navigation structure. Once the pages have been built out the Home page will have the design elements applied plus any content. Then the other pages are done, based on their order of importance. Allow a few hours to install and configure WordPress. Then some time to get the Home page done and 5 or 6 hours per subsequent page. Finally the team will do cross browser testing and mobile review, before presenting to the client for review before submitting a sitemap to Google.
Note Step 4B: At this point you would use the keyword research and keyword mapping, if you opted for it, to ensure the website is optimised for your market. This is probably the single most important thing to do, but many so called ‘Developers’ do not do it. Or even understand it.
Step 5 – Measuring – What sort of return on investment are you getting?
Go live and apply measurement metrics such as Google Analytics 4 and call to action recording. Call to Action buttons can record visitor actions, such as downloading a pdf or completing an enquiry form, as you may have done to get this guide. The web design agency can apply standard SEO search engine optimisation and if required, monitor same on an ongoing basis. Review your website and overall web presence performance regularly. The website is not a business, it is just a marketing tool. So who will look after your Online or Digital Marketing? Who will manage this new tool?
The job is not done when the site goes live, it is just starting and you will need to continually work on your website, to increase traffic, and then try to increase conversion, to get a good return on your investment. And maintain it. It is much like having a real shop or practice window.
Note: Step 5B – Engage an SEO specialist to use your website and drive pre-qualified leads to you.
CHOOSING A WEBSITE DESIGNER – some tips on getting the right fit for you
Tip: Communications during and after creating the website need to be clear & regular. The time and money invested means that the website needs to be maintained and built upon continuously. Having forged a relationship, you the Client and the chosen web design agency need to manage it, to produce the agreed return on any investment envisaged. It is an ongoing process, a partnership, if you will. Set some realistic targets and review them on a regular basis. Treat it like any business venture. If you have engaged an agency for say 100 hours at say between €50 to €100 per hour, that is €5,000 to €1o,000. What are you going to get back from this investment and when? Use a professional Digital Marketing Agency, if you do not have the skill set between you both. If you have the time to learn everything about building basic websites, here is a guide to building your own WordPress website from scratch by Dustin Hartzler.
Time: How long does it take to build a website? The time required to create a business website is usually about 100 hours over 6 to 8 weeks. Collecting the content takes most of the time. The actual design takes about two to three weeks and the development takes one or two weeks. Once this web presence is created, then it is time to make it work for you, which takes more time on an ongoing basis. Getting it populated, found, ranked and then making it do something useful and keep tweaking it all the time. Like any tool there is no point in buying it to leave it idle. A business would not buy a Company van and then leave it parked doing nothing. It is there to deliver for you, so you need a driver.
Ready for more ? What Are The Ingredients of a Good Website Design?
Important ingredients for a good website include sharp custom graphic design, sharp messaging, great images, smart navigation including bottom navigation or footer links, good relevant original content that adds value, usability, tracking & analytics. And sometimes social media integration. When someone lands on your website they should be able to determine within 3 seconds, what you do or offer. And who you do it for. Plus what problems do you solve. Does your website pass the grunt test within 3 seconds?
UX OR UI – WHAT ARE THEY ?
User Experience and User Interface are two terms used in website design that refer to two distinctly different parts of the overall web design.
UX – User design also referred to as UXD or UED which is all about usability
in a website, about the whole process of helping visitors find what they want with ease, navigate
easily and follow a simple flow, to help convert a visitor to someone who engages by asking a
question or buying a product etc. “This is an engineering aspect of the website design.”
UI – User interface design is the designed ‘look’ or feel of a website, designed to thrill, to delight visitors, to have them like or want to stay on the website. “This part of the design is the aesthetic, the style, the colour” or the bit that makes a visitor smile
Both are important and both are needed in good website design, so make sure that your digital marketer and web developer confer with your graphic designer to get it all right. A good web design agency will manage all this for you, but they may need to outsource parts of the work to specialists or subject matter experts.
Which part of the buying process is the visitor in?
To add to the challenge you will get visitors who are at the top of the funnel TOFU, just curious, mildly interested in what you offer. Or visitors who are actually looking for comaparisons between options/competitors, they are referred to as middle of the funnel MOFU. And lastly transactional visitors at the bottom of the funnel BOFU, these visitors just want to know how to place an order and pay. Your content has to speak to all three stages, so you will need to create pages for each type of visitor and where they are in the buying process at any given time.
60% of searches lead to browsers clicking on a Page 1 result, over 40% click on the very top one, and 20% on the second, with less than 20% going on to view Page 2 at all.
Digital engagement is everything you do online, website, social, Google ads, forums etc. Digital Marketing is a science, that can be studied or you can use a proven Professional…
Tip: Developers are like Chefs, they want to show you how to do it and impress you with what you can do with the ‘solution’. So make sure that you get a website that lets you do as much or as little as you like, which allows you outsource as much as you want, rather than getting something brilliant, but complicated and time consuming. Most websites do not get utilised after development
This article by Michael MacGinty was also published at Linkedin and is supported by many more related articles in our Blog here. Get tips on hosting, design, platforms, digital marketing and much more