Building a successful website takes a lot of forethought and careful planning. You don’t just wake up one morning, conceptualise the idea, and the next thing you’re doing is contacting that web developer you were referred to, or going through some online tutorials on how to set it up yourself.
Of course you have platforms such as WIX, WordPress and Squarespace to thank for making web developing a Do-It-Yourself project even for those who can’t lay down a single line of code.
But come to think of it, building a website is like building your own house. Everything starts with planning. Before you even think about contacting a constructor, you have to spend weeks visualising the design, deciding on the materials, and acquiring a construction plan and permit.
Same with web development, certain elements are absolutely critical, especially if your plan is to excel in SEO and lead generation.
That said, here’s a compressed list of the things to look into before you can finally decide to go ahead and set up a successful website.
What do you wish to accomplish with your website eventually?
For a brick-and-motor business, your goals may involve increasing your sales and raking in more profits. There could be other transitional goals as well, like increasing your brand awareness, getting to the top searches, and so forth.
The point is to make sure you have every single one of the things you wish to achieve written on paper.
Looking to start a content blog? Then your ultimate goal is to drive as much traffic as you possibly can, and eventually come up with solid plan on how you’ll be monetizing it.
No website is an exception in this – whether it’s a simple, minimalistic website or complex SAAS project, you certainly want people to find it. So make it click at the back of your mind from the very start of your project instead of waiting until the project has already kicked off to start giving it a thought.
Want visitors, fame, subscribers, social shares, or something completely different? Well, make it known beforehand by writing it on paper.
Pick a Domain name and Hosting
By now you should have already figured what domain name you want to use. Unless you have already checked, start by simply visiting whois to find out if it’s still available.
Next is to pick both the hosting company and plan you intend to use. Remember to check their online reviews to find out if they’re reliable. Do they experience constant downtimes? How is their support team – just in case your site breaks down and you want to make some inquiries on their hosting service?
For the hosting plan, you have to decide between shared hosting, VPS, or choosing a dedicated server, depending on the estimated traffic and how big you intend the project to be.
So how do you choose a domain name?
The domain name you choose must be in sync with the nature of your business. It should also be straightforward and simple enough for an average visitor to remember.
Most importantly, it must still be available.
If you already have a running website, make sure the domain name you choose matches it. But if you’re still figuring out your brand, then you’d want to apply some creativity in coming up with the best domain name you can possibly think of.
An easy approach will be to come up with a list of keywords and concepts relating to your project. Play around with them, checking for their availability, until you finally come up with one that snugly matches your taste and the nature of your business.
Outline the Structure
The website you come up with must be intuitive to your users. Every single user must intuitively figure out how to navigate through the site or find what they’re looking for with a few clicks and without giving it too much thought.
Make a detailed list of the main pages and the categories the site will have. Keep in mind that the pages should all appear in the main page so your visitors can have an easy time navigating through your site.
It’s also important that you try to keep the site simple enough and pretty basic. And one way to get this done is by keeping the list of pages and categories you intend to use as few as possible.
For a site with a bigger list of pages, categories, and sub-categories, proper planning will be required. Start by finding a way to lump up some of the pages together and, if it’s proving to be next to impossible, work out a plan to get all of them featured on the main page without appearing clustered.
Your safest bet is to plan for everything with the end user in mind. What structure will they have an easy time navigating and finding what they want? Some guesswork may apply, but wherever possible, try to make the site easy and more convenient for them to both navigate and use.
How do you plan to promote your site?
SEO is an important segment of planning, but there are other tactics to consider, including social media marketing, content boost, and paid advertising.
Your website looks great. But visitors won’t just find it out of nowhere. You have to find a way to make it known to them. Go out of your comfortable way to thoroughly market it to potential visitors.
Your target audience should also be part of the goals you set. You can come up with a sound marketing plan even before designing it and state the timeframe you’re giving yourself to attract a given number of visitors.
Plan for SEO
Design the site with search engines in mind. By now we’d assume you understand the basics of SEO and how your design plan actually affects your ranking.
Make sure you have all these factored in before you can go ahead and even think of contacting a web developer.
Also part of the SEO plan you come up with is content creation. How do you plan to fill the site with search engine optimised content?
You can do your own keyword research to find out which keywords your competitors are ranked in. Remember to also come up with a title tag and meta description for every single piece of content you create.
Lastly, start planning about backlinks and how you intend to work with other sites within your niche.
Check for Errors
Before rushing to launch the site, take time to go through it, polishing it through and fine-tuning where possible.
Make sure everything works fine and there isn’t even a single trace of noticeable bug on the site.
Even more important, remember to read though your already published content, and check out for errors. Check if the links are pointing to the right places and if the information provide is both accurate and free of common grammatical mistakes.
How does the site work on mobile devices? Is it responsive enough?
If you can, try to get someone else to help you go through the site and tell you if it’s intuitive enough for them and if there’s anything they’d want you to change, eliminate or add.
Once you’re satisfied with the far you’ve come, you can go ahead and launch the site. It’s also important that you remember to set up a Google analytic account to keep track of your traffic flow while at it.
It’s a Wrap
These are the core elements your website needs to succeed. By making sure they’re all included in your plan and forethought, you’d be working to ensure that the site kicks off on the right foot and that it stays on track as you journey towards your end goal.
In Singapore, there are a few web design firms that can help you come up with a sound marketing plan for your business or soon-to-be-launched website. As an industry-leading SEO and web designing firm in Singapore, MediaOne can help you set your business off to a flying start using sound web designing and thorough marketing.