Designing and developing websites is second nature to us, but it can be challenging if it is a process you have never been through before. Having a website created for your business is committing not only your money, but also the time to plan, review and test the finished site.
So how can you survive this process and get the most out of your time and money but also out of your agency? One of the key aspects is the planning and research you do before asking for quotes. It is important that you are able to give as full a brief as possible when asking for a price as you are more likely to get a realistic price and time scale back. If the price seems too good to be true, then it usually is – the brief may have been misunderstood or not in-depth enough.
If you are not sure where to start, then you should consider engaging an agency or a consultant to help you get to the point where you can ask for proposals and prices.
Starting point – the user journey
You want to engage people with your site and ultimately have them perform an action, whether it is calling or placing an order. Considering users, their habits and behaviour will influence how your site is organised.
Researching users can be done in many ways:
- Asking existing customers for feedback
- Surveying existing customers or visitors to the site
- If you do not have an existing site, undertaking market research to understand the audience.
It is likely that you will have more than one user group visiting the site. Think about:
- How web savvy are they? Do they use the internet frequently? Do they use social media? Do they primarily use their mobile to surf websites?
- Which group is the most important one? This helps to clarify what your message is and what actions you want people to do.
Be realistic - What you need vs what you want
It is very easy to get caught up in an idea that sounds great but ask:
- Will it hinder my users from using the site? For example, asking for text to flash or pop-up may look good, but is more likely to be annoying and distracting for users.
- Will anyone use it? Requesting functionality that may not be used or is not necessary adds time and cost to your project.
Finding your way
A sitemap outlines the structure of your site and the number of pages it will contain. This will help you plan the amount of content that needs to be written, or if you are commissioning a copy writer, the amount of copy they need to write.
It will also help planning out user journeys and identifying any missing steps or functionality in a site.
Content is king
Well-written content is now invaluable to successful websites, not only in gaining customers but in search engine rankings. Many people underestimate the amount of time required for this and it can often hold a project up from going live.
If SEO is to be a consideration for your site and future digital marketing, then creating the content should be at the top of your list of things to do. If you require the content to be reviewed and optimised an SEO expert, then you will need to factor in the additional time for them to review the content, as well as uploading it into the new site.
If you are commissioning photography, then this may add additional time to the project, particularly if the images are crucial to the design – a web designer will produce a design closer to your vision if they have all possible information.
Stock library images are a cost-effective way of obtaining high-quality images, though the downside is that good images can appear on multiple sites.
A connection is made
It is difficult for businesses to not have a presence on social media now. Even if you are not planning on using it, it is worth reserving accounts for the future to protect the brand.
If you anticipate using social media on the site, e.g. Facebook like buttons, pulling in a Twitter feed, then your agency will need the relevant links and log ins for the accounts.
There are many hosting solutions available with varying price and service levels. Most agencies offer hosting packages and this puts them in the best possible position to manage any problems that may crop up. If you decide to organise your site’s hosting, you should choose a host that can give you support if something does happen – look for one that can offer 24/7 support and short response times.
The above list of items may seem daunting but going through it will address many issues and put you in the best possible position when it comes to deciding on the agency you want to work with.