8 Things to do Before Building Your Website
Investing in a new website is a major decision for any business, big or small. Your website is the face of your brand in the online world – the place where your potential customers come to gain in-depth knowledge about who you are and what you do.
When done correctly, a new website will function as a lead-generating machine, turning web traffic into quantifiable conversions. But if you miss the mark, it could turn into a can of worms – a seemingly never-ending cycle of tweaks and fixes that chew through your time and money. Most business owners are aware of the risks associated with website development projects. After all, we’ve all heard horror stories about companies building a website only to end up with a final product that doesn’t function as intended or doesn’t match the vision that was originally pitched.
So, how can you avoid ending up with an underwhelming website design? And which website tips are the most crucial for the success of your site?
We’ve done the heavy lifting for you, digging into trends that high-performing websites follow and here are the top 8 things to consider when building a website:
01: Domain Name
03: Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
04: Web Hosting
06: Content Management System
07: Google Analytics
01: Domain name
The first thing you should do when planning to build your website is to choose and register the domain name. Essentially this is the name of your website and as such, it will be uniquely identifiable to your brand. Once you have settled on a domain name, the next step will be to register for the right to use that name. Registering a domain name doesn’t mean you will get a website. It’s just registering a business name for your website.
Finding the right name for your brand is crucial when you are planning to build your website. By combining the SEO and the brand identity of your company into the domain name, it will help your website have a higher chance of being located in search engine results.
Here are 6 key must-haves when choosing a domain name:
- Use the right domain name extensions (.co.za, .com, .org, .net)
- Use a brandable domain name and not a generic one
- Keep the domain name as short as possible
- Make sure the domain name is as easy to type
- Make sure the domain name is easy o pronounce
- Do your best to avoid numbers and hyphens
Simply put, businesses that are easily accessed online get more customers. When choosing a domain name, pick something that’s short, easy to remember and reflects the nature of your site. It’s not easy to change it at a later date, so now’s the time to get it right.
With the evolution of technology, newer and more advanced security risks threaten to compromise your website’s integrity. From malware and viruses to malicious apps and the threat of hackers, websites must prevent security breaches on both the front ends and back ends. Websites built to conduct online transactions, such as eCommerce sites, need additional security measures to protect customer information. To reduce the potential for browser-based threats, businesses must add SSL certificates to their websites. During development, it’s critical to review the security features included in your site’s framework and design. Businesses also need to conduct regular security checks or work with a provider who offers this service.
Read a related article about the difference between http and https.
03: Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Most web designers will advise you on how to get a website with phenomenal design when it comes time to build your website. But what good will it do if your phenomenally built website has no viewers or just a few users? Therefore, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is one of the most important parts to consider when you’re planning to build your website.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results. From this definition, you can see that SEO can play a big part in attracting people to your website.
When it comes time to build your website, you will need to incorporate keywords or search terms that your audience is likely to be typing into Google into the wording of your website. This will help provide search engines with a clear guideline of what those visitors will find when they get there. Bear in mind that SEO is a long-term strategy as it won’t kick in properly from day one of your website going live.
04: Web Hosting
If you want people to visit your website, it needs to be hosted on the internet. A web hosting provider will charge you a recurring fee and in exchange, it will store your webpages online and offer you a portal to manage your website. That is to say, a web hosting provider will give you two main things:
- Server: The server is the machine which hosts your website live on the internet. It’s also responsible for supporting the traffic coming into your website. Your hosting provider will ‘host’ your website on one of their servers, so people can access it through the internet.
- Storage Space: Your website will have text, images, videos and other media files along with the code. Your hosting provider will give you dedicated space, where you can store all of your website’s code and media files.
The basic definition of web hosting is about as straightforward as it gets. It is a service that provides the infrastructure that allows an organisation to publish a website.
Teaming up with the right web hosting provider is more important than you think. It’s a partnership. Opt for the wrong one and you could find yourself struggling to get support, suffering downtime or worse. The loss the initial capital investment can be dwarfed by the damage that a bad web hosting can do.
Quite simply, an architect wouldn’t build a house without drawing up blueprints – why would you build your website without first deciding on its structure?
As you plan your website and you are considering the user experience, you’ll want to start mapping out all of the pages that you want to include. It’s likely that you have a general idea in your mind of what pages would be best to have on your site, but actually putting pen to paper and drawing it out will help you to get a bird’s eye view of what pages you should build.
No matter how you go about mapping out your site, you’ll want to start by figuring out what the main categories in your top-level menu will be. Then, carefully start to map out what pages should be included in each section of your website. Be sure that as you are mapping out your site, you take time to consider what the user experience will be at each phase and if they will be able to easily find what they need.
TOP TIP: To keep your site up to date, it’s necessary to revise the sitemap as new pages are added.
06: Content Management System
It’s impossible to develop a great website without a functional program taking care of the backend. If you think of your website as a car, you can understand why. When friends see your shiny new sports car, they look at the sleek paint job, glistening tires, and luxurious leather seating. In the world of websites, this equates to the part of your site user experiences directly. Just like the powerful engine in your sports car, the backend of your website is where the magic really happens. Without strong backend services, your website won’t be able to “wow” your guests. Similarly, a sports car without an engine is rendered useless.
One of the best “engines” is WordPress as it offers a customizable CMS that is ideal for bot eCommerce and informational websites.
07: Google Analytics
One of the most valuable tools you need when it comes time to build your website is a Google Analytics account. Setting up Google Analytics is easy and one of the first things you should do once your website is ready to launch.
Google Analytics is an online portal offered freely by Google that gives you the tools you need to better understand the visitors to your website.
The information you get from Google Analytics will tell you if your marketing is working and which tactics are working best. The tool also provides rich insights into how many people are coming to your website, how they found you, whether they came back again and who they are. It will let you know which types of visitors are most likely to take action like a purchase or email signup and which are most likely to leave the site within a few seconds without ever coming back.
By using these data insights, you will be better equipped to make decisions on the types of changes you should make to your website and marketing efforts over time to better achieve your site’s goals.
Before setting your plans for a website build in stone, you have to establish a realistic budget – a task that often involves a reality check for business owners.
For a completely custom website project, you can expect to pay between ZAR 9,000 and ZAR 30,000. That number can increase if your website project is highly complex or involves a high number of pages and it can decrease if you decide to go with a template design.
Of course, each option comes with its advantages and disadvantages. On top of the website development itself, you’ll also have to factor in additional services like copywriting and SEO if you are unable to perform these tasks on your own.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Building a website comes with its challenges, but once you know the basic steps you need to take it’s easier to work out a plan to move forward. Once it’s up and running you’ll face a whole new set of challenges, of course, but it’s rewarding to see your traffic grow. If you’ve been waiting to get started because you don’t know what to do, just take it one step at a time and get it done.
Consult with your web designer to implement the above tips when the times come to build your website.
An eye-catching website design is a goal that most business owners want to achieve but how they choose to get there will be what sets their website apart from their competitors.
GOOD WEB DESIGN IS GOOD BUSINESS
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