You have decided to start your own business and you know that that means launching a website. Unfortunately, you are technologically challenged and you are not sure how to go about doing this.
If you need surgery, you would go to a doctor and if you want to build a website, you should go to a web designer. However, you don’t want to be left in the dark. If you have a little knowledge about web development, you will know what questions to ask your developer.
When you first meet with your web development company, they should ask you plenty of questions about your company. They should not only know what services you offer but to whom you hope to market yourself, the size of your staff, and your budget. It can be helpful to know the stages that go into developing a website that your customers will love.
1. Planning Out the Site
You will probably have the most communication with your web developer at this stage. After the web developer has gathered detailed information about your company, they will study your target audience. Depending on your budget and the size of your business, this may involve having focus groups or sending out online surveys. If you are on a smaller budget, the research may be limited to statistics and results from previous market research studies.
The technology that a website requires varies greatly from business to business. If you are a secretary offering clerical services, your site will have a much simpler layout than if you are selling a clothing line that offers many garments in several different styles.
The amount of time this first stage will take will be dependent upon the web development company. If they have a lot of work and a small staff, it may take a month. If they have ample staff, it may take a week or two. When you look for a prospective developer, you should look at the size of the staff and the experience that they have.
2. Putting Together a Sitemap
When the developer is finished with their research, they will begin to actually develop the site. At this point, a wireframe will be structured. A wireframe is essentially a blueprint for your site. They will outline a plan for the way your page will be laid out.
They will then figure out the steps a user will take when they visit the site. When they create a wireframe, they will look at both the intended path a user will take and alternative paths the user might take.
They will give you an idea of what your site will look like and you will be able to see the basic site map. A site map will show you the various avenues a user can take when they visit your site.
For example, When someone visits a site, they will see several tabs at the top of it. These tabs are linked to pages. if a person has a website that sells pottery, they may have three tabs at the top of their web page. One tab may be for products, another for a blog, and a third may be for the bout us page When a person clicks on a tab, several options will come up. If they click on the pottery tab, it will show all the categories of the pottery the business has to offer.
When you put together a sitemap you can decide what kind of pages you want to have and what kind of content will appear on each page.
Wireframes are very important because they give you a chance to see how everything will look and work before any code is written. In some cases, the wireframe will be hand-drawn, but if there is a copious amount of detail to cover, the developer will probably create it digitally.
3. Site Development
Once you have all agreed on what everything will look like and how it will function, the development will begin. The web development company will write the code and build the framework for your site.
This stage may take a bit of time because each page needs its own code. If you have a site that is complex and offers buyers many different options, it will take longer than building a simple site that merely offers one service. This stage can take anywhere from one to three months.
They will load any images and video onto the site at this stage and they will create the general look of your website. They will select a theme that suits your companies brand.
At this stage, they will test the pages and make sure that everything works. You will get to review the layout at this point. It is always a good idea to tell the developer about any changes you want at this stage. If you want changes later on it may cost more and take longer to do.
4. Content Creation
Once the site is tested and ready to go, you can begin adding content to your site. You can write your own content or hire a professional SEO writer to do it. In many cases, the web development company may be able to provide content writers for you.
If you are selling multiple products, each one of those products will need a description. If your business is exclusively online and you do not have a brick and mortar store, it is especially important to include as many details as you can about each product.
It is also a good idea to write an about page. You should let your customers know what your mission is as a business and how you hope to achieve your goals. You can include bios of the companies officers as well as a bit about the history of the business.
It never hurts to create a company blog. You can write a post once a week or twice a month about anything at all that is relevant to your industry.
5. Launching Your Site
After all that hard work, your site will be ready to launch. The site will be tested a few more times at this stage. The developer will make sure your site is compatible with all of the major browsers at this stage.
You can start getting people ready for your big launch by announcing it on Facebook and other social media sites. Your website will go live and you can start posting it everywhere.
Remember to hire a web developer who has a maintenance program. It is also important to write guest posts and put them on zines, blogs, and webpages that will get people to come to visit your business on the web.
You have worked hard to make your dream a reality. Your website is the way you will introduce yourself to the public and the thing by which most people will judge you. A professional web designer who makes all the right moves can make your business a success.