Getting ready to launch your first website or redesigning an existing one? There’s a lot of planning that needs to be done before you start. First, you need to understand what you need a website for.
Getting Started Building Your Website
For starters, try answering the questions below. Your answers will help you to determine the kind of website you need. Informational websites where the information doesn’t change often are obviously the simplest to build and maintain. Other websites need databases and E-commerce sites need SSL certificates. All of these factors need to be taken into consideration. Ask yourself:
- Are you going to have an informational website?
- Are you advertising a product or service that’s available locally or are you selling internationally?
- Are you going to be accepting payments online?
- Will you have content that needs to be updated often? (If you do, who is going to update it?)
- Are you incorporating a blog?
- What’s your budget to build and maintain your site? (If you’re thinking of building your own site, what skills do you have?)
- What is your time-frame for launching your site?
Planning Your Website
Whether you’re planning to work with a professional website designer or are thinking of building your own site, you should start getting an idea of what you want your website to look like. What color scheme are you thinking of? As simple a question as this seems to be, there are implications here. Lots of research has been done on the importance of your color scheme. Certain colors are associated with trust. Others make you think the site is fun. For example, you never see a website for a financial institution with bright colors like hot pink and you won’t find sites for graphic designers using a lot of silver and blue. Keep in mind your target customer and your product/service while you plan your site design.
One of the easiest ways to start thinking what your website should look like is to look at your competitors’ websites. (If you don’t know who your competitors are, this would be a good time to find out.) Get online and start searching the Internet for products/services that are similar to yours. What do their home pages look like? What colors are they using? Do they have online help? If they have a shopping cart, do they use PayPal? Jot down all your ideas and start thinking of the answers to these questions:
- How many pages are you going to need?
- Do you need a photo gallery?
- Do you need a shopping cart?
- Do you already have a logo, a domain name and a tag-line?
- Do you need to have a search option on your website?
- Do you prefer the navigation menu to be on the top or side of your page?
- Would “live-help” be a nice addition?
Your Website and Your Brand
Keep in mind that your website is a major part of your brand. All pieces of your marketing materials, including your signature line on your emails and the profile you have on social networking sites are opportunities to drive traffic to your website. Your site needs to look professional and should tie into your brand. You have less than 3-seconds to grab the attention of your website visitors. Will your site do that? And will your potential customers even find your site online?
I’ll attempt to answer more of your questions in parts 2 and 3. For now, start planning and feel free to comment with any ideas, suggestions or comments you may have.