6 Strategies to Build the Perfect Website
You want a great website . . . in fact you want the PERFECT website. The question is - how do you get that? Here are my 6 strategies (and a BONUS) for building the perfect website.
1 - Hire a professional web design/development firm
Yes - I'm biased on this one although I wouldn't be much of an entrepreneur if I didn't believe in my own product. You know your business - focus on it, not on learning how to build the perfect website. Who/what is a professional? They should have a minimum of the following characteristics:
- A professional web design/development firm should provide dedicated project management for your project
- A professional web design/development firm should have a sales and marketing focus. Your website needs to drive your audience to reach out to your organization. No offense to my developer friends, although developers to not know how to market.
- A professional web design/development firm should have a dedicated development team. Your developer should not be the same person who sells you your website. Sales/Marketing and development are different skills. I have yet to meet someone who possesses great quantities of both. If you need to make a choice though I can tell you that sales/marketing skills are more important than development skills.
- A professional web design/development firm should not make you talk to everyone on the team. Back to project management, you need to be able to focus on your business while your professional web design/development firm builds your website. You should not have to keep track of the details and who knows what.
2 - Have your branding elements ready
A professional web design/development firm will need your brand elements: logo, typeface, color palette and other branding items that you may have. Have these ready to go at the start of your project. One special note: have a high resolution version of your logo. This will ensure that your professional web design/development firm will be able to leverage your existing branding effectively.
3 - Ensure your site is being developed on an industry standard content management system
An industry standard content management system such as WordPress or Joomla! will allow you to maintain and add to your website after it goes live. Although I recommend that you maintain a good relationship with your professional web design/development firm you NEED to have your site based on an industry standard content management system.
You say you don't want to be able to make updates to your website? You still need to ensure it's built on an industry standards content management system (for those of you who are wondering we highly recommend either WordPress or Joomla!). Why?
- What if you decide that your web development firm is a bunch of idiots?
- What about if the company you are working with goes out of business?
- What if your contact person/project manager/developer/sales rep gets hit by a bus?
If your website is built on WordPress or Joomla! you can survive these crises by simply finding another competent WordPress or Joomla! website designer/developer (such as Valorous Circle Web Design in Grand Rapids, MI).
4 - Ensure that you will get FULL access to your site.
- Full administrator access
You may not have the technical expertise to use all of these accesses although if you ever need to change website design/development firms you will be thankful that you can simply provide your new firm with this information. With this information your new firm will be able to update/transfer your site without needing any assistance from your old web design firm.
Also - if you do not have access to all areas of your website you can quickly become trapped by a rouge developer who precludes you from having full access to your site. This means major headaches for you, loss of focus (remember, you need to focus on your business, and likely exorbitant fees)
5 - Ensure that your website is responsively designed
It should be no surprise to you that your website needs to work on mobile phones and tablets as well as on laptops and computers. Historically this has required you to design a primary site that worked on laptops and computers and a mobile site that was intended for mobile phone users. This approach was full of problems, not the least of which was the need to maintain two websites and the frustration felt by tablet users when your mobile website came up instead of your primary site.
A responsively designed website works on all devices and automatically re-formats your website to fit the device requesting it. This means that:
- on a wide screen monitor your website is not simply a narrow strip down the middle of the screen
- on a tablet your website automatically re-formats to fit the smaller tablet screen
- on a mobile phone your website automatically re-formats to look much like a mobile phone app making is much easier for your target audience to view and interact with your website
6 - Ensure your website includes a blog
A blog is simply a place on your website where you can regularly share updates; various entertaining, inspiring and educational items; testimonials and more. Google, the giant of the search engines, adores blog posts and using a blog on your website will ensure that your website is ranked higher and receives more traffic from your audience.
Note - all WordPress, Drupal, Squarespace and Joomla! websites (when setup properly) provide this feature automatically.
BONUS - NO FLASH
One last bonus tip, although I would seriously hope that in 2013 you would not run across this. DO NOT have your website designed using Flash technology. Flash does not work on most mobile phones or tablets. In particular Flash DOES NOT work on iPhones, iPads or iPods. Again, this should be a no brainer in 2013; if your developer wants to use Flash RUN don't walk away.