According to Internet Live Stats there are nearly 1.2 billion live functioning websites on the internet today. 1.2 billion websites! Nielsen ratings in 2012 suggest the average person will probably visit a 100 websites a month. And of those it’s likely more than half of those visits will result in a split-second decision to hit the close window button. Why? Because more than ever we know whether a site will immediately suit our needs. We just know.
Finding meaningful information online doesn’t happen by chance. In fact with any given website you have at least six or more people employing data and design to be sure inquiries are answered at the speed of one’s internet connection.
I can tell you that design is a process. And it’s never more true than when designing a website.
The hardest part is getting started. So today, I want to share the beginning stages of building a website to help you, your company or organization launch with systems of good design.
Where do we start?
It starts with a conversation and a deep understanding of the business strategy, mission, values, and products and services. You also need a deep understanding of your demographics. What do your client’s value most from you? What are their pain points? Their likes? And when are they online?
This is a process I can help you with, but it’s important you have the answers to these questions before we move forward.
Choose the Strategy
Why do you need a website in the first place? It’s not because everyone else has one or it will help you sell your products and services.
It’s because you want to reach your organization, business and branding goals. You want to gross $75k in passive income, you want to be the most remarkable product or service in your industry, you want to make people stop, take notice, and then take action. Your bigger goals are the single most important reason to build a website. You want to create a destination and turn visitors into active participants.
Some companies or organization, who are just getting started, just need to describe who they are, what they do, and why people should trust them. In the business this is commonly referred to as a brochure site. Like a brochure the desired action is for a potential client to learn enough to respond. There are other features you could add to a brochure site, like email list-building, brand message testing, or tracking site visits. So aim high.
Some companies want to sell their products and services. Not only will you need to have your wears properly branded, modeled, and listed but you’ll need a payment gateway to safely process online transactions. You might need a fulfillment strategy, FAQs, access to a photographer or social media manager to set your brand apart.
Or your building an online community where thought leadership and password protection are paramount? If so what will be the site structure to offer exclusive content? What is your blogging strategy?
For more information about your online strategy, feel free to reach out to me.
With technical requirements in mind, we can then discuss how we’re going to build the site.
We could develop the site from scratch, but there are a number of off-the-shelf options that will save you time and money. There’s Wix and Shopify. Even GoDaddy and other host providers will have website builders that will allow you to get to market fast.
My recommendation is WordPress. It’s flexible, widely supported, and comes with a whole market of developer add-ons for additional functionality like on-site search, testing messaging, or building email lists.
Did you know WordPress accounts for 30% of top 10k visited websites. And 47% of the top 1M visited websites?
I’ve developed sites on Wix, Shopify, and GoDaddy but only WordPress gives me the elasticity to brand a company online.
Let’s talk about branding
Any one can put up a site and sell a product on Wix. But if people don’t trust the website or understand what makes this product or service unique, it’s more likely they’ll just hit the close button and move on.
Good branding builds trust.
It’s critical to know the landscape of your brand. If you’re just getting started, you’re like a tiny logo island in the Pacific Ocean. It might take a while for people to find you. But there’s a series of projects and tactics that can build awareness. It takes more faith than it does dollars. In other words we all start somewhere.
If instead your company or organization has been around, it’s likely you have a small community with faces, places, and things that people will recognize as your brand. In other words, what does your photography look like? How well does your current site and social media channels engage your audience? And again how do your products and services help clients with pain points or social influence?
It’s important to survey your brand collateral and supplement with additional photography, illustrations, brand assets and icons to be certain you’re reaching your targeted demographic.
You want to make your website a destination where people spend meaningful time, build trust, and prosperous relationships. You want people to share your site.
With a critical understanding of the scope, knowing how long it will take to design, develop, and source additional brand assets like photography and copywriting, it’s only then you should feel comfortable with an estimate of costs.
Be weary if a designer or agency tells you on the first call that a website costs a specific dollar amount. If they do, they are, at best, underestimating what you need. A website is a great branding and goal-reaching opportunity. It takes times, process, design, and understanding of your needs. Make certain you know what you’re getting and what you want.
In my next post on the topic I’ll talk about the steps that happen between signing a contract and seeing design and layout.