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Last update: 01/23/2024
Investing in a well-crafted website are marketing dollars that will score you more clients with a strong ROI. Additionally, most potential clients make a decision on the quality of your business within milli-seconds, so it's important to make a good first impression. So, what does it take? - Like in other industries, much of the effort is in the preparation. In this article, we outline the typical flow to properly construct your website.
Most people will resort to using the company they are referred to most, or that they see posting on social media often. Not always are they your best bet, do your homework and reach out to a few different companies to see the quality of their finished products.
By the time you are done with your research, you may have 2 or 3 companies that seem to be a good fit. Compare what each is offering in their quotes and pay attention to the experience you had getting the quote. Between the two you should get a feel for which company is your best to move ahead with.
Before starting the website design process, the company will conduct some research to learn even more about your product, your industry, and your target audience. They may also look at your competitors to identify what they are doing well and how you could do better than them.
Next is developing a content strategy. This will involve determining what kind of content you want to deliver to your target audience and how you will use your website to promote your products or services. Then, how to pair it with other forms of marketing deliveries like social media posts and ads.
The company will design a system architecture for your website. That means choosing the right platforms for all of the different parts of your system, determining how they should communicate with each other, breaking down the pages into logical components, and deciding where all the content should go.
Your brand is the tone and culture of your company. You want your audience to connect to a consistent “feel” that everything you do gives off. (Think of the price savings of Aldi, or the luxury of brands like Gucci.) That branding is what all the design in your website should be based on and is important for customer retention and pickup. If you don't already have branding for your website, the company should help you create it. This includes brand colors, fonts, imagery, layout, style, and overall feel and values.
A stylescape, similar to a mood board, is a way to test applying your brand to a website in a way that is easy to redo or edit if it doesn’t convey the feeling you want. It should include elements such as brand colors, fonts, typography, and layout. Stylescapes help the designer convey what they envision your website will look and feel like without having to build the whole thing first. Stylescapes are a good way to make sure everyone is onboard to create a similar product without the huge headache and cost of having to start over due to a misconstrued design.
Alongside the high-fidelity design (high-fidelity is used to mean highly detailed while low-fidelity means minimal detail) aspect of the stylescape, your website should also be wireframed. Wireframing is where the system design starts to take form. Very rough drafts made out of basic boxes are drawn out to determine where things should go. Wireframing is a great way to test ideas and get feedback from you before starting to design your website in more detail.
Once you have a wireframe and stylescape, the company will start to create a single mockup of your website. This is a high-fidelity mockup that shows the final design of your website, so you can see what it will look like before they start building it. Once you have the mockup, review it carefully and give the company feedback. Make any necessary changes before they start designing the whole thing.
Once you finalize your mockup design, the company will start expanding it to include all of the individual pages and elements. This includes designing things like your pop-ups, sidebars, widgets, forms, and call-to-action buttons. Review the design of each page and element carefully and provide feedback to the company.
A best practice is to use components and or custom templates in design. Components are reusable parts that are implemented across the site. It can be things like buttons, heading texts, the header, the footer, or different navigation menus. Components make updating the site and keeping the design consistent much easier. Templates are layouts for different types of pages on your website, such as a product page, blog post, etc. If the company you are using is using components or templates they will first build the components and templates for your website.
Choose a domain name and hosting plan that is right for your needs. Some companies will take care of this for you, while others will want you to do it yourself, or may accommodate you if you already have it set up. Once that is properly configured they will install and configure the platform and software your website will need to run.
Once your components and templates are built, all the other individual pages of your website can be built. That is when you may start adding content like blog posts and images to the pages.
Websites today are viewed on a myriad of screen sizes. If you don’t want to lose a potential customer who happens to be on a device that is different from the one you planned for, you have to make sure that your site responds to changes in screen size and looks good for everyone. Implementing those adjustments is known as making the site responsive.
Once your website is built, the company should run a thorough QA (quality assurance also referred to as QC - Quality Control). QA testing is where they will try to test all the things that people may do on the site to make sure that it acts properly in all situations. They will also test your website on different devices and browsers to ensure that it looks and functions well for all of your visitors.
Depending on your agreement with the development company they may start working on optimizing your website for search engines so that you can attract more visitors from search engines. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website or web page in search engine results pages (SERPs). By improving your SEO, you can attract more visitors to your website and increase your sales. Optimization includes things like keyword research, load time optimization, and meta description implementation. You may need to provide them with information about your target audience and the items that you want to rank for.
If you have employees who will be using your website, the company may train them on how to use it. This includes teaching them how to create and manage content, and how to use the CMS platform. Another thing they may offer is to provide ongoing support so that your employees can always get the help they need.
Another perk you may be able to get is to have them help you develop and implement a marketing plan to promote your website and attract visitors. This may include social media marketing, email marketing, and paid advertising. They would help you choose the right marketing channels for your business and create a budget that fits your needs. The advantage of using the same company is that they should be best at keeping to your style, but any other marketing company can do it as well.
If you have an old domain it will need to be redirected to the new website, but only once you are all ready to go. This will ensure that visitors who try to access your old website are automatically redirected to your new site. You may also want to make sure that the website is properly indexed by search engines so that it can start appearing in search results.
A/B testing is to create a second version of your website with some differences. The two versions are then randomly displayed to users and you track which one is more effective. By A/B testing your website, you can identify how to make small improvements to elements on your website that will be the most effective at converting visitors into customers. This is a simple tool that helps you improve your website's conversion rate and increase your sales.
It’s hard to know how your site will rank. But once the internet's billions of users start interacting with it you will start developing data that can effectively help you increase your SEO results to be fine-tuned to your needs and to be more effective.
Websites, like buildings, need to be constantly updated with new content and features. This keeps your content fresh and visitors engaged. There are also security and feature advancements that you will want to implement. A well-built website needs far less maintenance than a poorly built one, but all websites need some form of maintenance.
We know better than anyone else how daunting of a task building a website could be, but here at SmartStudio, we work hard to make it as easy and hassle-free as possible. Our company is committed to delivering high-quality websites and a wide range of other web design and development services, such as SEO and digital marketing services to help businesses of all sizes grow online. Contact us for a free consultation today!