As the digital landscape continues to grow, many businesses including individuals today have websites. Some use them to share information with users, sell products and services, and others for advertisement and much more.
A website can play many roles depending on the needs you have and what you expect to achieve once it’s designed and fully operational. However, designing a website comes with its own challenges, and if you don’t have a plan in place or a reliable developer or agency available to help make your dream come true, a lot of things can go astray.
But for those that get goosebumps every time they hear terms like design layout, security features, hosting, back end and front end, they surely need someone they can trust to guide them through the development process.
However, there is no need for you to feel frightened about web development. You can be able to achieve all your needs and to do that, you need to know about the important or essential aspects one should have on their mind and list before building a website.
Here’s a list of 10 essential things to know before building a website.
1. Your target audience or users
As you set out to design your first website, one of the most important aspects anyone should consider first is their target audience. Understanding your user base and their needs will greatly impact your decisions when it comes to design, content, etc.
For example, if you’re planning on building an e-commerce site, then you should take into consideration important factors such as navigation, design, and security so as to attract more users.
In case you’re not aware of what your user needs are, you should do ample research both online and offline to gather insightful information that will help you create something that meets your target users’ needs.
2. A good domain name
Every business or individual project begins with a dope name, which is why it’s considered one of the most important initial steps in web design. After all its the name of your website, right?
A domain name is what helps users or customers find you online. An example of a domain name may include something like gocarrentals.com or tastycakes.com. One has to pay a certain fee in order to register for one though it doesn’t mean you will get a website straight after getting one since you’re just registering a name.
Domain names can range from .com, .net, to .org depending on what your needs are. For example, domains that end with .org are usually for nonprofit organisations. However, before you buy your first domain, always remember to keep it short, easy, and memorable. One should also factor in their branding strategy when choosing one as it should represent your brand.
You don’t want your customers to get confused while trying to find you online because you didn’t take some time in choosing a proper domain for your site.
3. Choosing the right web hosting partner
There are so many web hosting companies out there, with each offering similar services but with different pricing and packages. Ensure that you pick the right hosting partner that meets your requirements for your project as it determines a lot of aspects.
Factors such as loading speeds, security, pricing, ability to have various software integration, and reliable support should be put into consideration. Imagine having a very slow loading site which ends up chasing away customers or one that ends up being hacked due to poor security measures.
Apart from that, having a bad hosting partner can also affect your search engine rankings too. So, ensure that you take some time reviewing all the web hosts that you have in mind before you make a final decision to take on their services.
In case you find yourself unable to choose which host to go with, you can ask the developers since they often know which hosts in the market are good or you can look at online reviews that offer a broader view from clients that have already tested the waters.
Innovware offers an experimental web hosting package aimed at helping small businesses and personal websites. We are currently working on launching the service soon.
4. Backend services/software
Just like owning a car, apart from its awesome design, paint job, and shiny wheels. At the end of the day, what makes that beauty run is what is underneath it, which is the engine and other moving parts.
Similarly, one should be able to determine what backend services their web page will be running on as it determines a lot of your project’s aspects such as user experience (UX), compatibility, security, etc. For example, if you’re starting your own e-commerce site, you’re often encouraged to use CMS (content management systems) like Magento, or WordPress (which is one of the world’s leading customizable CMS ideal for all kinds of sites).
There are several other backend software that one can use to effectively run their website such as AbanteCart (for e-commerce sites), Drupal, Joomla, to mention but a few.
Whatever you decide to go with, remember to put into consideration the demands of your project such as the security of the backend service, technical support available for it, and also compatibility issues. Go with what works best for you.
5. Clean design
Design covers a lot of things such as colour scheme, branding, web page navigation, image, and text sizes to mention but a few. A well-designed website that covers most of the essential things attracts a lot of users and helps it to stand out in the vast competition.
Navigation: A clean and easy to navigate website is what users love most. No one wants to spend their time on a web page trying to find where your contact details are or social media links because the design was badly done. If a customer finds it difficult to navigate your page, they are going to lose interest and may never come back.
Colour scheme and branding: One should also put into consideration the kind of colour scheme and branding elements your business represents while designing your web pages. Remember to use simple but clean logo designs, warm colours, and the right size of the text.
A mobile and responsive site: Your website should have a responsive design that is capable of serving both mobile and desktop users in all screen sizes. Statistics also indicate there has been a high increase in the use of mobile devices to conduct online searches with approximately 95% of mobile device users using their devices to search for local products and services. So, businesses have to ensure that their websites can be viewed on any device.
Good design also plays a role in affecting the SEO of a webpage. If it’s poorly done, then don’t expect to have a lot of visits to your site.
You can also look at your competition in order to find inspiration and guidance when it comes to areas of design when setting up your first web page. A well-designed web page layout attracts a lot of users.
6. Website functionality and compatibility
Apart from the design element, one should ensure that their website works as it is intended which brings into consideration the functionality.
Functionality in a simple sense relates to things such as whether web pages are loading without any issues, there are no broken links, the users have access to working menus and contact forms, whether the site is receiving security updates to mention but a few.
A non-functional site is a huge turn off for customers. Imagine the users being unable to access a product feature or service because the website doesn’t work as it is supposed to. Before launching your site, ensure that everything is working and be ready to fix it at short notice if anything goes wrong.
Compatibility: As web technology continues to advance and grow exponentially, your site should also be able to work on both old and new technologies such as the ability to be used on multiple devices and web browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, and many more.
If you don’t include this step into your web design process, then you may end up losing a large customer base, which in return may prove to be a costly venture to your business growth.
Everything concerning your website’s security should be taken seriously. In today’s world, security is a big concern since with every technological advancement, there is a different threat such as malware, viruses and even hackers that can compromise the integrity of your site.
Ensure that during the development phases of your website, security is put into consideration every step of the way. For example, choosing a host that offers 24/7 security updates and support, ensuring your site has a valid SSL certificate (whether free or premium), secure passwords, software updates, etc.
Sometimes it can be hectic managing the security of your own site which is why some people hire agencies or IT support services to handle everything for them on a weekly or monthly basis. We offer similar services for some of our clients, who find it more convenient knowing a professional has their back.
8. SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
Let’s say you have all the first 7 key points mentioned above cleared out, and now you’re looking to increase your site’s viewership over the web. This is where Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) comes in, as it will make sure your targeted users are able to access it.
Developing a clean and SEO friendly site is crucial in improving your web page rankings. By doing so, you can increase the overall return on investment.
While some CMS services require you to have the technical knowledge, a few like WordPress have several plug-ins available on market developed to simplify the process of cleaning up code and improving your search engine rankings since they require limited coding knowledge.
At Innovware, we were using SEO Ultimate before switching to Rank Math a few years later, which is now our standard SEO plug-in for all our sites. There are several other plug-ins and tools on the market that can improve your website’s search engine rankings depending on your needs, but we do recommend trying out Rank Math.
9. Social media integration
Any business owner that hopes to grow his customer base online needs social media. In this digital age, almost everyone is hooked on a certain social media platform such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat.
Social media platforms have millions of users providing a great avenue for you to market your website in various ways such as content marketing and advertising. As you build your site, you should make sure it has the option for users to share your content online anywhere.
Apart from that, some of the social media platforms and other online tools can track and provide a lot of analytical data that offers more insights about how people are finding your website, which in return is vital for its success.
After putting all your considerations into perspective, at the end of the day, everything relies on cost. Building a website requires money and depending on how much you’re willing to spend; it can highly influence the quality of the site.
We’re not saying that expensive agencies or developers offer better websites but one should carefully consider the person or company they’re working with since this can influence how your project turns out.
For example, if you’re looking to develop an e-commerce site, then it’s obvious to hire a competent and experienced agency or developer that knows what they’re doing since your site will be dealing with sensitive information such as personal user data, credit card information, etc.
Alternatively, you can always pay for subscription-based e-commerce services that make it simple to set up your online shop or service such as Shopify, Squarespace, Etsy, etc.
There is also the issue of monthly maintenance that involves software & security updates, yearly and monthly domain and hosting fees to mention but a few that have to be considered too. Therefore, one should estimate all the associated costs before starting the project.
We are not saying that if you don’t have a lot of money you can’t make a website, you can, you will just have to shoulder more responsibilities and learn to do certain things by yourself which can take some time. After all, we started our first online website with less than $50 about ten years ago (2011).
We hope this resource is helpful and gives you a picture as you prepare to bring your ideas to life and online through your website. Keep learning and do research, it will help you a lot and will go a long way. Always share, promote, and invest in it.
In case you have any questions or you want to share something we missed, please leave us a comment below. Thanks.