So you've decided to approve the build of a shiny new website, or a complete redesign of your current online presence. But what comes next?
It's tempting to jump right in and get the development ball rolling. But, before you contact a web designer, or start trawling through Wordpress templates, there are a few details you should consider before starting your project.
The following are just a few pointers to give you a clearer picture of your requirements before taking the plunge.
What is the purpose of the site?
Will it be a personal site, a news site, a travel site, a charity site? Will it be used to 'sell' or is it an online advertisement to direct customers to an existing business? Many websites are an extension of real-world advertising, leading the visitor to contact you via email or telephone.
What is your target market?
Information like age, wealth and location are all essential. Apart from the general look and feel of the site, the nature of the customer can also influence the type of web browser and device used. Will the majority of visitors be on a desktop computer, or a phone or tablet? All of which affects how it should be designed.
What 'style' would you like the site to be?
It is crucial to decide on the correct image to portray. This primarily influenced by the demographics of your potential visitors, coupled with the type of company you are operating.
It is vital at this point to make sure your site is designed so that the target market will like it, and visit again.
Are there any existing websites that you like the look of?
What colours would you like to prominently feature throughout your website? Do you already have a logo and branding guidelines for the design to follow?
What size would you like the site to be?
This can be a hard question to answer initially, as it is difficult to know what form your site will take. It's worth considering whether you will require many images, or whether it will be text-heavy, or both.
How will your site be marketed, rather than simply using search engines?
Such as being added to online directories? In certain industries, linking to online directories can help bring visitors along. Such as hotels joining a travel site. I will always submit your site's XML sitemap to search engines and optimise keywords, meta tags and descriptions within the pages for the highest ranking as a matter of course.
Is there a completion date for the new site?
Is it necessary that you get your site online by a particular day, or is it a 'work in progress'?
How often do you anticipate you will need to update your site?
What format will the updates be in? Text or images? If you envisage regular updates and addition of new content, it is wise to build the website using a content management system.
What domain name would you like, and with what suffix?
Do you already own a domain name that you would like to use? Or will you need to purchase a new one?
How many email accounts would you like?
Every domain name can have its own email addresses. For example, www.mydomain.com could have an email address email@example.com. This looks infinitely more professional on websites than using personal email addresses. They are simple to set up, and if you have a few staff, you may like them to have a personal address each.
Will you need integration with social media platforms?
Do you, or your business, have a Twitter feed you'd like to display on your site, do you have a Facebook page to link to. Would you require visitors to have the ability to share individual pages and articles to social media with the click of a button?
Do you need web forms?
Beyond a regular contact form, will you require additional forms, such as for a survey, or quotation request?
The details above are intended as a guide only. Some of them may not apply to you, or you may have distinctive needs that I have not covered.
Nevertheless, they should give you a brief introduction to the thought processes involved in commissioning a new website.
Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.