We have seen and built many, many websites in our time. In fact, Grey Matter has been delivering web design in Sheffield for almost as long as the world wide web has existed. Whilst lots of businesses in the city are flourishing online, some still aren’t getting it right. This keeps us awake at night. A website is often that crucial first impression and you can’t afford to get it wrong. Here are ten things to have in mind when working on your new website:
- It will take longer than you think. Much of the work that goes into building a website is behind the scenes and it is easy to overlook this during planning. A good rule of thumb is to add 50% to your original timescale. And then double it.
- It will cost money. Budget properly and remember to include costs for design, content creation, build, promotion and maintenance. A website is a major investment, but do it properly, and it will be worth it.
- Define its raison d’etre. What is the purpose of your website? To build brand awareness, to provide information, to sell your products or services? Remember, what you want your website to do and what your customers want may be different things entirely; use market insight to deliver a website that meets your customers’ needs.
- Pick a good address. There are around 332.4 million registered domain names according to a report published at the end of 2017, so finding one that stands out might seem impossible. Be creative. You have two elements of a domain to play with: the Top Level Domain (TLD) and the Second Level Domain (SLD). Let’s start with the SLD, this is the ‘middle bit’ and should ideally include your business name, or an abbreviation of it. Keep it short and if possible include a SEO keyword (more on this in a separate blog post). Don’t get too hung up on this though, brand and clarity take precedence over keywords in your domain name. If you look at our web address: gm.agency – we’ve opted for short, simple and memorable. Moving on to the TLD, there is much more variety on the web now than the traditional ‘.com’. Don’t be shy in just stating what you are in your TLD, consider: .business, .shop, .restaurant, .team… you get the idea.
- It’s not an IT thing. Yes, your website will contain information. Yes, it will involve technology. No, it should not be left to the IT team. Your website is a marketing tool, a very significant marketing tool. Please leave it with the marketing team.
- DIY (Don’t Incriminate Yourself). Your website needs professional design and build to ensure it is fast, easy to navigate, attractive, and performs well in search engines. Wouldn’t you rather invest in somebody who knows what they’re doing, than be left carrying the can for a clunky, poorly designed website, on page 25 of Google?
- Use solid foundations. Using a good Content Management System (CMS) will help you manage the future maintenance of the website. Your CMS will depend on the purpose of the website, Magento and OpenCart are great for e-commerce sites, whereas WordPress and Chapters CMS work well for corporate sites.
- Be clear. Chances are, visitors will come to your website seeking information. Make sure they can find it easily and quickly. Use language that is simple to understand and have a clear navigation. You should also consider your SEO and how your keywords can fit seamlessly into your content. A skilled copywriter can weave your keywords in without compromising on the quality and clarity of your content.
- Be accessible. Your website should be open to all, that includes people with disabilities, those using mobile phones and tablets, different browsers and those without plug-ins, such as Flash. There’s a lot to think about in this area, you don’t want to be sued for discrimination and neither do you want a website that is completely illegible on the screen of a smart phone. You can access guidance on making your web content more accessible, or you can employ the skills of trained web developers who have been making the internet more accessible for years.
- Get it out there. Once you’ve got a website that looks great and functions well, you need to get it out there. Spending time on your SEO will help to drive traffic to your website. You should also promote it on social media and in all printed collateral. Think of your website as your shop floor, once you get people through the door half the battle is won. So, do everything you can to get them there.
Our team of web gurus, designers and SEO pros are ready to partner up on your website project. Talk to us now. You’re in very good hands.