I need a new website: HELP! Where do I begin?

You’ve decided that a new or updated website is a must for your business. How can you ensure the end result gives you EVERYTHING you need?

Can I do it myself?                                                                  

Yes you can. Software such as WordPress is open source and free. There are some great designs and themes available, too. However, if you’re not tech-savvy, be prepared for a steep learning curve. In addition, ‘off the shelf’ website design templates might suit a blog or provide basic information about what you do – but may not cover all your needs.

Responsive design for laptop and phone

These days, being fully responsive is a must. In the past, a site that looked great on a computer screen didn’t always translate well to a phone. A new responsive design means that the site’s layout automatically adjusts your content to fit a phone screen. The result? Phone and tablet users will find it easy to scroll down and navigate your lovely new site. Does that matter? Yes. Approximately half of all site visits are from phones – a trend that is increasing.

What website pages do I need?

It depends on many factors, but basically as many as it takes! Planning is key. Be precise about what information your site needs, and what it doesn’t. Site visitors want to scan text quickly to find what they need. Can it all fit on one page? Or do you need separate pages like Services, About, Testimonials, or Q&A – even a Shop Page or Search Function? Could certain sections group together naturally? Never cram too much information into one section. It will annoy visitors and be counterproductive.

Management, support and maintenance

Who will run your site? Sites need to be updated regularly. If you’re using a website designer, make sure you understand how to make changes and manage your site once they’ve left your side. Who will protect your site? Or deal with backups, optimisation, maintenance and large content updates? Unfortunately, technical things do go wrong. If you want peace of mind to focus on your business, know in advance how you will manage. Ask your designer about their inhouse support and maintenance packages – they may be less than you think, and worth their weight in gold! 

Other costs

Design is not all you must include in your budget: hosting, domain names and plug-ins (extra functions) are certainly not free. Site management fees, the quality of the final product and your own time and skills should be factored into your final decision. 

Check out your competitors

Turn detective and visit the sites of your competitors. Is the Home Page inviting? Are the colourways attractive? Does the content flow? Do they have a blog? You can be a magpie, making notes of positive possibilities you’d like for your new site. If you’re using a designer, they’ll be used to many different kinds of sites, but unlikely to be an expert in your sector. Having clear ideas before you meet will help the process along.

Relaunch with a new Logo

A great logo is individual and memorable. If you’re already established, is your service the same as when your started out? If not, it’s an opportunity to throw off the old and embrace the new. Logos represent your business, but they can date over time. Even famous logos, like Starbucks, have had several ‘tweaks’ over the years. If your business has changed its focus, is it time to totally refresh your image – and perhaps even your name?

If you are thinking of having a new logo, check out our logo design service.

Image selection

What pics will make your site sing? How many do you need, and will they need to be updated? Consider your clients carefully. What do they want to see? What will attract and keep them? Professionally taken and well-chosen stock images look stylish. A poorly placed, amateur image looks unattractive, letting down an otherwise brilliant website.

Website content and UX (user experience)

Content is key. How a site looks visually is undoubtedly noticed first, but what words are chosen to appear on the site, and how they appear, is vital. Tone of voice, structure, consistency and accuracy are just some elements of good content. Can you do it yourself?  Possibly – but working with a copywriter is a surer way to make every word count.

Your new website and SEO

Search engines like sites that look good, flow smoothly and have excellent UX (User Experience). Your website manager will keep you visible and ranking high. However, they are not magicians. The best site can only be effective for SEO if it has all the following: well-structured content with thoughtful headings; smooth functioning; keywords in the right place; an attractive design that looks amazing … and is a pleasure to visit!    Take a look at the reasons great content is essential for SEO.

In summary:

Your new site deserves to be the best possible. Website designer costs may look high, but the cost of a site that doesn’t work is far higher. Always shop around, ask questions and be sure you’re going to get what you need. Factor in all the costs if you plan to go it alone, and include your own valuable time! It may mean using professionals is worth it in the end.

About the Author

Article by Kaz from Nutshell Copywriting

An experienced writer, Kaz creates informative, concise and consistent content that takes SEO into account, flows fluently and reflects the philosophy of your business.  She can also be very persuasive!

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