The Main Factors to Consider When Planning Your Web Design
We understand that for many owners of smaller businesses a website represents a very significant investment. It’s a fair old chunk of capital so to help you with planning and budgeting for your project we have produced this guide.
We recommend the first thing to do is put together a brief of the aims and objectives you have for your website. Here are some factors worth considering:
- How complex is your plan for the website?
- Will you require us to arrange for your hosting, and domain renewals, as well as designing your website?
- Will you require us to carry out on-going maintenance on your website, or do you plan to do this yourself?
- Will you require us to design your website from scratch, or, customise a pre-made template, e.g. a WordPress theme?
- What sort of features will you require, e.g. selling online, e-commerce.
- How many pages will your website have?
Style, Look and Feel
When planning your website, your personal tastes could come into play too. So it might be worth thinking a little bit about any preferences you might have that you would like to be used in the design. For example you may have particular colours, fonts or styles that you either like or dislike. When considering this it’s also worth bearing in mind you have to appeal to your target audience too. Do you have any branding that you would like to include, such as a colour scheme, look, feel, or logo that you would like to incorporate in to the web design? This is a good time to think about these things. The clearer and more specific you can be in your brief, the more accurately we will be able to quote you.
Content Is King
Possibly the most important consideration is planning out the content of your website. You know your business much better than we could ever do, so can you prepare your copy or text in advance? This is standard industry practice, and the approach preferred by the vast majority of companies. Don’t worry, you won’t need to be a highly skilled writer because we will proof read everything and get it all ‘ship shape’ – that’s our job! If you prefer, we can consult with you and write all your copy from scratch ourselves, but the more you can prepare, the more it will reduce your costs. The best approach is to write clear and informative content, keeping your target audience in mind, because this is favoured by Google. How much content are you planning for inclusion? You can have as much or as little content on each page as you wish but the optimum page length for the search engines is about 600 words.
Look for Inspiration
If you’re not sure what to write, you could always look at existing web sites for inspiration, but remember never to copy, or you may face penalties from Google! The layout of existing sites might demonstrate how your own website could be structured; for example, planning how you could best distribute your information around the pages. This in turn, will have an impact on the number of pages your website will need, and the planning and organisation of your navigation menus. You’ll definitely need a home page if you’re planning to introduce yourself, and a page on which clients can contact you. Also, do you have any professional graphics, images or professional photography that you would like to include? Again, we can provide all this, but using your own will also cut down on the final costs.
Domain Names and Email
It’s important to get your domain name registered as soon as possible, before someone else snaps it up! This is essential forward-planning. If you haven’t done so already, we will help you register your domain name with an account to host your website. This will keep the domain name under your control, and should you want to move your website to a different web hosting provider in the future this will make it much easier. Having your domain name registered will also mean reserving your email address for future company branding. This is because email addresses are part of the same registry system. As the registrant of the domain name you can use it to create email addresses by prefixing the @ sign with any name of your choosing. For example if you owned the domain name yourcompany.com, you could set up email addresses for employees, such as email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Costing Out Your Project
There are three important things that you need to consider when planning and costing out your website:
- Your budget – the bigger this is, the more cash you can splash around on fancy bits and bobs.
- Your technical/design skills – the greater these are, the more you could possibly do for yourself.
- Your time – the more time you have available, the more work you can put in to the website yourself.
Try to be as clear as possible about your expectations/goals for the website. Be practical. Be realistic. It is easy to be tempted to go for a very complex ‘all bells and whistles’ website, but do you really need all that? Careful planning will go a long way. Focus on ‘ticking the boxes’ of the features that your website really needs. Ask yourself:
- What features are essential to your business right now?
- What features can you bring in later once your site is up and running?
- What features are unnecessary and could be left out entirely?
Focussing on these features will help us build a website that gets the job done rather than wasting your money. Don’t forget, a website is an on-going project that can be updated at any time; more can always be added when you need it.
The initial design of your website is going to be an upfront cost that is payable once. If you require regular upkeep and maintenance, for that there will be a monthly charge. Ecommerce websites tend to need more maintenance because of software upgrades, and likewise search engine optimisation in order to constantly out-manoeuvre, and stay ahead of the ever increasing and shifting competition. Alternatively, the purchase of single maintenance sessions, as and when required, will be charged by the hour. With clearer planning of any maintenance requirements you can more accurately budget for future costs.
Good Co-operation Is The Key
Creating your website will be a cooperative effort between us. We have found this to be the most productive way forward. You might not be able to do our job, but you’re still an important part of the project. We would not expect you to be completely hands-off; on the contrary your input is essential. Of course, using our professional expertise we will make recommendations, but we’ll always listen to what you want, and you’ll see working draughts as the project progresses. Your feedback is welcomed because after all we want you to be happy with the final result!