The Process of Website Development in 10 Steps:
Step 1: Set your objectives. Do you want to inform visitors, generate leads, sell products online, automate communication, improve customer service? List all objectives in order of importance.
Step 2: Set a budget that you can afford and introduce a measure to check your return on investment. This measure needs to be in place from the day you launch your site and like any other business strategy, regular reviews must take place. Measurement of return on investment will depend on your objectives, which will differ from company to company.
Step 3: Choose a Web designer. Word of mouth recommendation is probably one of the best routes – use your network and ask around. Otherwise, do a search using the Internet. It’s a good idea to work with a fairly local supplier, so for example you may search for “WordPress web design in Raleigh, NC” in Google and a best match list will appear. Here’s a ” Selecting a Web Designer ” checklist to follow when interviewing designers. Note: If your designer is not experienced in search engine optimization (SEO) you must find someone who is.
Step 4: Keyword research should be performed at this stage. Over 80% of Web traffic begins with a search. Make a list of the words or phrases that you feel people may use in the search engines to find you. Your designer or SEO should be able to guide you in this area. The results of this research will also help you select an effective domain name to use for your Website.
Think about the site content (text) and link this with the objectives that you set out in Step 1. Gather all the written information together and review this with your Web designer. Almost certainly, much of your existing content and copy will need editing or rewriting to suit the web. If you or your web designer are not familiar with writing for the web find someone who is.
Step 5: You’ve now collated your existing material and there may be some additional content required which you’ve not yet written.
Within your launch time scale agreed with your web designer, you need to realistically decide what you can achieve and if necessary, break the project down into Phase 1, 2 and beyond.
A web site should always be viewed as a Work in Progress and early planning of how you want your framework to develop will help you to build a sturdy platform at the outset. Your Web designer should be able to help you with this.
Step 6: With your Web designer, draw up your framework or web map and consider any phased requirements that you came across in Step 5.
Your web map, matched with your content material will allow the web designer to develop a few home page concepts for you to consider.
These should strongly reflect your corporate identity and should have room for expansion for future updates. Keep your primary keywords and SEO in mind throughout this process.
Step 7: You’ve agreed upon content and now the style, so it’s time to let your design partner proceed with construction. At this time you should discuss web hosting options with your designer or SEO and have the hosting account setup and ready for uploading of site files.
You should expect regular progress reports from this point on and it’s a good idea to ask the designer to work up one section of the site for you. This gives you the opportunity to test how the navigation works and to see if you like the overall style of the site.
Step 8: The construction of the whole of the site can proceed, now that you have approved the first section.
Maintain regular contact with your designer/SEO throughout this stage, as the construction and approval process ensues.
Step 9: After the site has been optimized for the search engines and final approval has been given, it’s time to launch your new site.
Don’t expect it to stand alone; marketing the presence of your new site is crucial. There are many ways in which you can do this. Numbers 1-4 below MUST be done.
- Submit a sitemap to Google, Yahoo and Bing
- Participate in selected social media networks
- Actively pursue links from related Websites
- Start a blog
- Incorporate your Web address on all printed material
- Distribute press announcements
- Newspaper & magazine advertising
- Announce through E-mail campaigns
An experienced Web designer and/or SEO will be able to offer advice and help on all of the above.
Step 10: You may think that you’ve now finished your project – but this is definitely not the case. Your web site should be regularly updated with fresh information. It’s an assurance to a potential customer to see evidently current material on your site. As outlined in Step 5 of this article, you may also need to phase in new sections of the site as your company evolves.
The use of a web statistics (Such as Google Analytics) program will help you to analyze how many visitors you have, how they are finding you and which areas of your web site are being most frequently used. You can also assess information such as how long visitors are spending on your site, whether you get repeat visitors, and much more. This type of marketing intelligence will help you to fine tune your site to its maximum potential.
With all this in mind, it’s advisable to ask your web designer about a maintenance contract. This can be an attractive, relatively low cost option for you to consider and will assist you in promoting your company in a dynamic, lively and interactive fashion.