The website process

For some companies; either just starting out or that have been going for a few years, there is a huge misconception about what it takes to obtain a website.

I have worked with companies of all sizes, from small startups to established companies of various industries. Getting a website is not as difficult as some would think, however, it usually comes down to either time, resources, budget as well as finding the right web development company to partner up with.

I have elaborated on a few areas I have found businesses to struggle with and I have given a few tips of the trade that could play part in your decision making.

Planning.

As it is with most things in life, start by creating a checklist.

The first steps to obtaining a website do not have to be daunting, in fact, most website companies will do the groundwork for you and simply consult on the best course of action based on your website requirements.

  • Domain – existing or new
    • Domains on average are between R100 – R200 per year
  • Website hosting provider
    • If existing, provide your new website company with these details, it will speed up the launch process at the end
    • If you don’t have a hosting provider, your website company can provide you with a solution
  • Website brief with the desired outcome of your website.
  • Standard or e-commerce website
  • Size ie: how many pages, products, downloads/documents, and images?
  • Forms
  • Site structure ie: sitemap of pages and how everything will flow together
  • Acceptance of the quote

Content.

This is where I find most companies get stuck. If a company doesn’t have any content or physical marketing material they often feel they have to then write out all the content themselves. Half of the time – companies even resorted to using their competitor’s content! This is a big NO-NO.

There are far better ways of generating content for your website than resorting to plagiarism, the big reason for this is that Google and other search engines will actually penalize and delist your website for taking such a lazy step. So try to go for a more logical approach.

There are plenty of content writers or people with good writing skills. You do not need an essay’s worth of content on every page, try and simplify, keep your sentences relatively short and easy to read. You want to captivate your audience with the essentials and why they should choose you – not bore them to death.

  • Content – what content will appear on your website?
    • Will this be provided by yourselves? Or,
    • Will this be provided by a third-party content writer?
  • Images – what images will appear on your website?
    • Will this be provided by yourselves? Or,
    • Will this be provided by a third-party photographer?

Design.

So you’ve planned your website and the content that will appear on your website, but, you’re still having trouble visualizing it? No problem! The website designer will review the original brief, sitemap, and content, and begin designing your website.

Not all website companies offer this, some will go straight from planning to the build, sometimes they get lucky and the client is happy with the end result, however, in most cases it ends in disaster. If your company has a specific Corporate Identity to adhere to, from logo, colour scheme to the fonts used, ensure to have a design or prototype created before your website is built.

  • Custom design – flat design of the home page or multiple page designs
  • Prototype – a static working model of your website
  • Wireframe – a basic line/box drawn up model of your website

Build and Development.

If you have opted for a design visual, prototype or wireframe – perfect! You are one step closer to a fully functional website than a company who opted out of this option.

Having your website planned and designed from the very beginning can save both your company and the developers time by reducing the amount of back and forth that would have come if you skipped the design phase and dived headfirst into the build.

  • The developer/s will begin building the framework
  • The developer/s will create¬†all of the individual pages and functionalities
  • The developer/s will stylize your website and make it “pretty”

Quality Assurance and User Acceptance Testing.

During this phase your website provider should be conducting an internal quality test to ensure that every page functions as it should and that every link and form is working 100% before they send you the final product for your own perusal and testing.

If this phase is done incorrectly, it can cause a lot of frustrations for all involved. Proper checks including grammar/spelling and browser testing should be conducted by both parties, don’t expect that your website provider will be thorough – even though they should be!

  • Testing is done by the website provider
  • Testing is done by the client

Launch – finally!

You’ve made it to the end, you are pleased with the end result and everyone is happy for the website to finally launch and be available for the world to see. Congratulations! You can now pop open that bottle of champagne and celebrate.

  • Launch of the website
  • Final bug testing and troubleshooting
  • Basic SEO setup

Online Marketing.

Once your website is up and running, you can go an extra step further by getting in touch with an Online/Inbound Marketing Agency. They will consult and advise on the best course of action for your website and your industry to take. Their sole purpose is to work with you to get more leads via your company’s online presence. There are numerous ways of achieving this and every Marketing Agency have their own tricks of the trade, find the best one that will work best for you. Don’t fall for false promises – ask for proof – do your homework before choosing the right agency to partner up with.


Do you have more questions?

If you have any questions about website hosting or website development that I didn’t cover in my article, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’m always happy to consult, answer your questions and steer you in the right direction.

Thanks for reading!