For most businesses, a website is a vital component of the marketing and promotional toolkit. No wonder then that many new businesses rush to get a website quickly after opening their doors. But what do you need before you start talking to a web developer?
Like most elements of a business, a website needs careful consideration and collection of key facts before you start work.
You need to aim your website at your customers. Therefore you need to know who your customers will be. That means your marketing plan needs to be in place; which will be done off the back of your business plan. In order to have an effective conversation about a website the site developer will need to know :
- The aims of your website (inform, sell, data distribution or management for example)
- You need to have done your marketing persona, or buyer, templates so you know who the site is aimed at
- Your company brand needs to be in place, with a logo, brand colour scheme and registered domain name
Having these in place means that the developer can begin work. Without them only the highest levels of conversation can take place. Going prepared will make your meeting with the web developer much more productive.
Many sites you visit will be laid out in the same way. Home..About..Service..Blog..Contact.. There is nothing wrong with that, it’s a simple and straightforward way to navigate a small site. While a web developer will be able to help you with the technicalities of website user experience you need to be able to tell them that types of pages you feel you need and how they might be logically ordered. For example, if you’ve got 10 services in five main sectors, how do you best order the pages to allow people to find what they are looking for?
There are also more fundamental questions like “Do I need a forum?”, “Will my site have specific functionality?”, and “How will my pages be laid out?”
Often people think that content is the last step before releasing a website. Not so; the type and amount of content will have an influence on the technical creation of the site and the CMS platform that is selected. If you plan on using a large number of videos, how will they be stored and played back? If you need large repositories of photos, how will they be viewed?
Content is more than just website copy or what images you’ll use. It defines how your site is put together and how the pages relate to one another.
This brings us onto the dreaded SEO, search engine optimisation. You’ll need to have a firm SEO plan in place to make best use of a developers time. How will pages be named? What additional metadata will be included with each page? Plus when you get down to the nitty gritty of content creation, SEO is all important if you want to avoid your site slipping into obscurity.
While having the above ready is a good idea, it’s never too early to start talking to a web developer about your needs. It’s simply that they can’t start work until much of the elements discussed here are sorted. Getting in touch well before you need the site live means they can schedule in the work and give you additional advice. I’m always happy to chat about your needs, if you’d like to get in contact.