Designing and building a new website can be an exciting time. There is a lot to think about, and it’s easy to get distracted with how it’s going to look at the end, what modern features it’s going to have, and ultimately how many visitors you’re going to get and how much money it will make you.
However, there are some questions you can ask yourself before you start even designing a website that will save you time and probably money in the long run.
Why are you building a website?
You don’t have to write an essay on why you’re building your new site, but it is important to understand what you are expecting.
Over the years, I’ve met many people who have asked for a website, because everyone else has one, or because it’s something to check off the list. However you need define what the function of your site is.
You might need a portfolio, a product or service listing, maybe you want to publicise your news. Maybe you need to sell online. You might even need a mix of those things.
What sort of site do you want to build?
Once you’ve decided on why you’re building a new site, you can start to think about the ‘what’ you’re going to build.
If you’re selling online, you’ll need an ecommerce site, if you have community site in mind you might want forum style site.
You won’t need to know the exact technical specifications if you’re using a designer or developer, as they’ll lay out options for you, but it’s good to at least have an idea of what you’re aiming for.
Are there any websites or features you particularly like or want to emulate?
At this point it’s good do to do some research. You might want to look at what your competitors are doing. Are they doing anything particularly well? How well do they do with search engines. Do they have a specific feature you like?
It’s also a good idea to have a general look around the web, and see what trends or general designs you like.
Having this in mind will help when you brief a designer or developer. They’ll be able to develop something you’re more likely to like. If you’re building it yourself, it’ll help to have some of the ideas in mind when you’re looking for templates or services.
Are you building the site or hiring someone to do it?
If you’re planning on hiring someone (maybe JMHDigital?) you need decide on your budget. Pretty much anything can be done, but the more features you have, the more complex the design, the more it will cost.
If you’re planning to build the site yourself, be honest about your abilities and plan your site accordingly.
Do you have a domain name and hosting?
If you’re building a new website you’re going to have find a home for it. If you’re using a designer or developer then they will probably be able to help you with this, but you may decide you want to retain control of this element.
When you are choosing your domain, choose something that is easy to type and remember. Ideally you’ll keep it short, use keywords, avoid numbers and hyphens and use the right domain extension (eg. .co.uk, .com or .org). Depending on your aims, you may also want to include your target area.
Most hosting companies can act as your registrar and let you search for domain names. 123reg is a good one to use as it lists all the domain extensions available as well.
The type of hosting you decide on may be impacted by the type of site you plan to build. For example an ecommerce website will require extra security, so you need to ensure that your host offers that. You can read more about the different types of hosting in our hosting blog.
How will you manage your website?
Building your website is just the start of a longer journey. It’s a very easy to think that once your website is up and running it’s job done.
However, for your website to be a success, it’ll need ongoing work. Your website will require ongoing technical work in order to keep it running and secure for your visitors. You’ll also require fresh content to keep people coming back to your site. If you’re running an online store you’ll need to make sure all the products and prices are up to date.
You’ll also have to consider search engine optimisation work so your site ranks well in the search engines.
If this is work you are comfortable doing yourself then make sure you have a realistic plan you can stick to.
If you are hiring someone to look after your website, consider your budget and set realistic expectations of what you want to achieve.
At JMHDigital we provide a web management programme, this includes taking care of technical updates, helping plan and deliver fresh content and general SEO work. We work with our clients to continuously develop their web presence to help ensure success.
Need some help with your new website?
If you need some help with a new website get in touch with JMHDigital.