Maybe you’re a small business owner who’s planning to create your first-ever website, or planning to do a total redesign of an existing site. Or perhaps your employer just gave you the task of finding a web developer to create a website for the company. Either way, don’t rush into this task until you’ve completed the following seven simple steps?
1. Get Decision Makers InvolvedWhether you own the business or you’ve been tasked by a higher-up to develop the website, you need to get the decision makers involved. Get their input on what the site should do, what it will look like and so on. A word of warning, though: just focus on getting input from the key players. Think of it this way? Have you ever tried to order a pizza with a bunch of people? Everyone has a different idea about what to order, and it all becomes overwhelming as you try to settle on what to get. Same thing with your website. If you get too much input, then you’re going to get a lot of contradicting input that will just complicate the process. So focus on getting input from the top decision makers and key players.
2. Determine the Site’s GoalsNow that you’re focusing on getting input from your decision makers, call a meeting together to discuss what the site should do. You’ll likely come up with a list of several goals, such as:
- Turn leads into cash-paying customers (such as by getting them to purchase a product or service from the site).
- Give information to leads.
- Capture leads onto a mailing list.
- Get leads to fill out a form requesting more information.
- Get leads to follow the business on social media.
- Get leads to call your business.
- Get leads to visit your physical store, office or shop.
- Get existing visitors to become repeat business.
- Get existing visitors to refer their friends.
3. Hire a Professional Development TeamYou may know someone who dabbles in web design, like the neighbor kid next door or one of your own family members. However, just because someone knows their way around Dreamweaver doesn’t make them qualified to design and develop a website. That’s like saying the guy who knows how to make a grilled cheese sandwich is qualified to run a four-star restaurant. Get the job done right by hiring a professional web development team that is skilled with web design, web development, database maintenance, content creation, lead generation, lead capture, marketing and SEO. (More on this in just a moment.)
4. Keep the Project Moving ForwardWhat you need to do is work with your web development team to set deadlines. Then talk to your in-house team so that everyone is in the loop regarding what they need to do and when they need to do it. Your web development team is going to ask you to provide information and content so that they can develop your site. Sometimes you may have to get this information or content from others. Your job is to keep the project moving forward by providing requested materials as soon as possible so that you don’t delay the project.
5. Create ContentA good website requires a lot of content. You’ll need content for the front page of your site, the “About” page, your products and services pages, your lead pages and every other page. You’ll also need articles to distribute around the web, content for your own blog, and even lead magnets like white pages or reports. Assigning content creation to one person on your team will be overwhelming. Here’s a better way to handle this task:
- Assign content creation to multiple people. Look at your team’s strengths, knowledge and experience, and then assign content creation based on those three factors.
- Recycle existing content. Chances are, your business already has content floating around, such as white papers. You can reuse this content on your website. Or you might tweak it and repurpose it, such as turning a white paper into multiple blog posts.
- Outsource to the web development team. A good web development and marketing team should have the ability to help you create a content strategy, create the content itself and then distribute this content. They’ll also have pro writers on board to handle your most important content, such as your sales pages, lead pages and landing pages.
6. Test the SiteOnce the web development team has worked their magic and you’ve loaded the content on the site, then it’s time to test the site. Generally, a good web development company will do all of this testing for you, which may include:
- Checking that all links work.
- Checking that all forms work.
- Checking that the ordering process works.
- Checking the autoresponders.
7. Maintain the SiteIf you launch your site and just leave it to its own devices, eventually it’s going to start to look stale to your visitors and/or lose effectiveness. That’s why you’ll want to talk to your web developer about a maintenance contract, which may include any of the following:
- Maintaining any software or scripts running on the site.
- Maintaining databases so you don’t end up with corrupted, unusable data.
- Securing the site to prevent malicious hacking, data theft and similar.
- Adding fresh content to your site to keep visitors and the search engines coming back.
- Tweaking the site to reflect the rapidly changing search engine algorithms and best practices.
- Getting your site back up and running quickly if it goes down.