Are you unsure about what makes a good website?
A website is crucial to your business’s success. Get it right, and it can massively help your business ‘s growth. To help you get the most from your web presence, follow these 10 steps and you’ll be well on your way to creating a great website.
Domain Names and Social Channels – Register them before all else!
Registering your domain name and social media handles is the first step for every website project. URLs and social channel usernames should be concise, easy to remember and easy to spell.
Organise your sitemap and see what assets you can use
Creating a great website is as much about design as it is about structure. For structuring, the sitemap is your friend.
Use a sitemap to group sections logically, and bear in mind that too many sections and pages will overwhelm your users and make your website look cluttered.
Asset-wise, if you have an existing website, use the sitemap to see what content and pages you have already. Also, look at your other marketing materials to see if the content is going to be consistent with what you want on the new website.
Imagery is important – the age old adage is that a picture tells a thousand words. Try not to use stock imagery too much, especially cliched ones like handshakes, smiling families and picture-perfect posed photos (like the above!) – it can end up making your website looking tacky and cheap.
Use bespoke imagery wherever possible to raise your website profile. If you are using stock libraries then carefully select your images so they don’t appear cheesy.
User Experience and Navigation
What makes a good website? User experience!
User experience (UX for short) is a key impression factor for your website. Well designed and thought out websites will encourage and enable users to explore your website easily. Poor UX design will leave users frustrated and lead them to bounce off.
Use competitor websites as a reference point for what you prefer, or not prefer, about their UX. Also ask people to review your existing site, if you have one, and garner opinion.
If you are redeveloping an existing site, analytics software can tell you a story about which areas users are landing on and where they go from those landing pages, as well as other key metrics.
Do the above and you’ll start to be able to see how you should form the navigation of your site.
KEY POINT! Mobile browsing has now overtaken desktop browsing. Make sure your website has a mobile-optimised experience and ideally is responsive so it can adapt to different screen sizes.
Find a reputable full service agency
Many website projects turn into a nightmare when you have the scenario of a web developer in one hand, and a creative team in the other. While you are in the middle trying to manage them both to deliver a complex project.
Our advice is to use a full service agency (like us!), one where both the creative team and web developers are under one roof. This way, both developers and designers will know what each other has in mind, what is expected, and problems can be sorted out in an agile manner. Use an agency with a sound digital marketing knowledge too, as they will help you ensure your website is visible across the web once launched.
Insist upon a CMS, and a CRM system too if possible
For the sustainability of your website, an intuitive CMS (Content Management System) is an absolute must. A user-friendly CMS means you have control. Building new landing pages, edit your website and build forms for data capturing internally without having to incur costs from re-instructing your agency.
Incorporating a CRM system (Customer Relationship Management) will help you track and convert leads that come through your website, but be careful – CRMs can be expensive to maintain in costs and resources.
Start with wireframes first
Another thing we often see is people getting too caught up with the visuals of website designing, and you get ‘too many cooks spoiling the broth’. Ultimately it delays the website from launching, and costs more money to develop.
To avoid this situation, concentrate on wireframes before going onto the creative. Wireframes display only the functional elements of the webpages. This will allow you to plan for the usability perspective, including placing buttons, content and images where they matter, without actually being led by the visual side.
Bring your website to life!
Once wireframes have been agreed, it is time for designers to work their magic and apply visuals and branding.
This stage is often known as the ‘website flats’ stage. Website flats are created so that when web developers start coding the site, they know how the pages should look when finished.
Coding and Security
The time for web developers to shine! Don’t worry yourselves here, a team of highly trained monkeys will smash at keyboards tirelessly from dusk till dawn until your website is hatched from a 1990s Tamagotchi.
On the security side, web monkeys should also be making sure that they are using HTTPS encryption, so that any data travelling to and from your website to user devices is secured. For more info on HTTPS and why you should use it, check out our dedicated HTTPS blog.
Populating Content and Testing
You’ve designed your website and web developers have coded up the website infrastructure. What’s next is populating the website with your content and crucially, testing it.
As mentioned, websites should be mobile-optimised and responsive, i.e. adapting to the screen size they are viewed on. Testing will ensure your website looks as good as it can on all devices. Don’t underestimate this stage, as according to Adobe, 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content/layout is unattractive.
Of course, there are lots of internet browsers and screen sizes now. This means browser testing is not about attempting to make a website look the same universally across all those possibilities. What it actually means is making sure that no matter how your website is being viewed, the experience should be appropriate to the capabilities of that browser or device.
Promoting and refining your new website
You’ll know that you’re ready to launch when you’re happy that the website works as it should be and looks good across all devices.
However, don’t just down tools – your website should be constantly evolving.
The first thing you need to implement is consistent updates with fresh content so you can improve search engine rankings. To improve SEO, your website content will need to be optimised with keywords which you want to rank for SEO.
Not only that, but you will also need authoritative backlinks (links from other websites that point to your site), as this shows that your website is a credible source in the eyes of Google. Authoritative backlinks can be achieved by good promotion of your content and methods can include social bookmarking and blogger outreach.
Another of Google’s ranking factors is citations. Basically, this is how you are cited, or known if you will, on the internet. Therefore, if you are known as Jask Creative, make sure that you aren’t cited somewhere else as Jask Creative Marketing, or Jask Design and Print, etc.
FINAL POINT! Promote your website!! Bring more traffic to your awesome website through digital marketing, social media, email marketing and off-line promotion.
Now you know what makes a good website. It’s about dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s, and we’ve got plenty of experience in web design to make it as simple for you as possible. Want us to handle the hard graft? If so please contact our Client Services Director Phil Kean.