Feeling like your website could use an update? Want to start fresh and build a new site from scratch? Building a new website is part of running a successful business, but before you begin here are some things to consider that will ensure your new website offers value and runs smoothly.
Building a New Website: Hire a Professional vs. DIY
With all of the self-driven website builders available today, many business owners ponder whether it’s necessary to hire a designer to craft a website. It’s entirely up to you, and we will be posting a comparison in a future blog to outline the differences. Either way, there are things you should consider before you start, even if you’re building your own website.
6 Key Questions to Address Prior to Building a New Website:
1. What is the purpose of my website?
It should be more than simply “to spread the word about my products and services online.” You need some idea as to why you actually want a website in the first place – especially before you spend money making it! Perhaps it’s to show your customers and prospects the experience of working with you. It should help your potential customers become customers, and your existing buyers become repeat business.
2. What do I hope that my prospects/customers will get from my website?
You know best what your customers need. How will your website provide for that need? Will you sell your product/service online, or be a go-to resource for solutions to their problems? Will the messaging speak directly to them to drive action?
3. What can I include on my website that will make my customers’ lives easier?
When a customer comes to your website, what offers, features, and information can you provide that will make their lives (and purchasing from you) easier?
4. What calls-to-action can I use to encourage engagement with my leads/customers?
Just like in a physical store, many customers are looking to engage with you. A call-to-action is a way for you to add value for your prospects and existing customers. Maybe you can offer them an exclusive deal, a premium download of relevant information, or the opportunity to sign up for more information by email.
5. Can I use existing customer testimonials on my website?
Prospects are interested to know about other customers’ experiences with you and your products. As buyers, we can be put at ease (or totally put off) just by knowing that your product or service is going to be what we expect. The best way to show future customers that you are worth investing in is by showing off your happy customers!
6. Where can I get images from? Do I have my own image library to use, or will I need stock images?
In the online world, images are just as important as text! Before you build your website, you need to consider the type of images you’ll need, and where you’ll get the images from. Will they be product images, or just simply brand and lifestyle representation? If you need stock images, your designer will be able to give you some options, but if you have your own photos of products, you’ll need those in the proper screen resolution format.
Make a Needs vs. Wants List
Now that you’ve had some time to think about the purpose of your website using the 6 key questions above, you should sit down and make a Needs vs Wants list for your new online presence. When it comes to web design, any designer worth their salt will warn you against adding something to your site just because it’s cool. Everything on your site should have a legitimate purpose – fancy bells and whistles may look fancy, but they’ll only make the customer experience confusing.
Working With a Website Designer: Items to Discuss
The questions above will help prepare you to work with a website designer. Your designer will need to know this information to ensure what he/she builds will be the solution your business needs to build relationships and create sales. In addition to the above mentioned questions, you’ll need to discuss these further items to ensure you have everything you need and that you agree on important points.
1. Do I need a new domain name?
Your domain name is an important part of your new website. Your domain name should be somewhat obvious who you are (abbreviations need to be clear if used), and best practice is to use the same handle in your social media profiles as you have for your website. For example, this website domain is rednebulainc.com, and you will find us on Instagram and Facebook at instagram.com/rednebulainc and facebook.com/rednebulainc. This way, it’s easier for prospects to find you on various platforms. You should speak with your designer to determine if you need a new domain name, or if a previous domain will do.
2. Where will my website be hosted?
All websites require a host server, and figuring out who will own the account where your website is hosted is something you need to determine. Where you host your website can affect the loading speed and online security of your website which are factors in Search Engine Optimization, so be sure to discuss this with your designer. Note: self-driven website builders like Wix, Squarespace, and Shopify all come with hosting as part of your account.
3. When will my website be launched?
This is a common question, and it’s one that should be discussed early in the project. Website launch dates can be flexible depending on if the build goes smoothly or not (code can be finnicky), so expect some uncertainty on the anticipated launch date. It’s also a good idea to form a launch date with your designer so that you can plan your pre-launch marketing campaign. You’ll want to create some buzz about the new site before it’s launched.
4. Will my website have traffic tracking codes?
There are a few integral tracking tools that you’ll want to have included from the start during your website design. Google Analytics (in-depth website traffic data), Google Search Console (information on search terms that landed visitors on your site), and Facebook & LinkedIn tracking codes (useful for social media advertising based on custom audiences) are three that you should certainly have included during design. Even if you don’t think you’ll use them now, including tracking codes early will save you time later, and give you a wider data set to use down the line.
5. Is search engine optimization included in the design?
It’s important to discuss in advance how much search engine optimization is included in your website project. Not all website designers offer this service, and some offer it as a separate service not included in a website package. In order to be clear about your search engine rankings post-launch, be sure to discuss this topic with your designer so you know what other services you might need to employ for a smooth launch.
But that’s not all…
These are just a few things to consider to get you started. If you would like to discuss a more in-depth strategy for your new website, we’d be happy to help. We’ve got the experience and expertise to guide you on building a new website to be a workhorse for your business.