When clients contact me for a new website they often do not know where to start. I lead them through the web design process phases and steps needed to design and develop a website that will truly support their business goals and marketing strategy.
Goals & Marketing Strategy
The first step to a website project is to define your goals. A website is a critical component of your digital marking strategy, but success cannot be achieved, or measured, without knowing your goals. When your goals are clearly defined your website can be designed to support your goals.
As you are defining your goals you need to think about how you strategy to drive traffic to your website? Organic search only? Google AdWords? Social Media? Email marketing?
You need to develop a persona for your target client. You need to define what they want and need and how you can quickly and easily provide what they need. Your content needs to speak to them. It needs to tell them how you can solve their problem and why you are the best choice for their solution. Too many websites simply tell you what they have to offer, but do not tell the potential client how they are going to help them. You need to engage your client at an emotional level and solve their pain-points.
Identify at least three quality competitors. What are they doing well? How can you improve on what they are doing to solve your target client needs?
Your logo is the cornerstone to your branding. It sets the tone for all of your marketing materials, including your web site. Your website color pallet and font choices may be derived from your logo. Therefore, if your logo needs to be redesigned that needs to be the first step in your design process.
The planning phase work will play a large role in defining your website content (text & Images), pages, page layouts, and your navigation paths. SEO will play a large role in this step. The focus and keywords of each page needs to be clearly defined. The page needs to have clear and meaningful headings with quality content.
Identify at least three website with design features or functions that you like. This requirement may be met with the competitor websites, but it could be websites in a completely different business sector than your own. You may like some aspects of a website and dislike others aspects. Both type of feedback is helpful. This process is similar to what you would do if you were going to build or renovate a home. You would find inspirational concepts to help you define the must haves and the nice to haves in your design.
In this step WordPress will be loaded on a server and themes and templates will be loaded and created to support your design. Pages will be created and designed, navigation will be set-up, widgets will be created, and plug-ins will be added. Text, images and meta tags will be added to your pages. Functionality will be tested. Website performance will be tested and optimized. Website security will be hardened. Old website urls will be mapped to new urls and all needed 301 redirects will be identified. An experienced website developer will follow best practices to make sure that your website is designed properly, optimized, and secure.
The web site is now ready for review and approval. All changes will be completed and a final round of testing is conducted before launch.
Once your website is signed off it is ready to go-live. If the website was developed under a domain name that is different then the domain name that will used when the website is live, then the website will need to be renamed to the live domain name. Any old urls that are no longer used will need to have 301 redirects to your new urls to preserve search engine page ranking. Your new sitemap.xml will be submitted to the search engines. Google analytics and web master consoles will be set-up to help monitor the activity. Congratulations! Your web site is now live!