As impressions go, a professional and functional website is a mirror image of a business. But before you even get to the notion of building a cool website for your company, know this:
there will be a lot of work involved on your side.
In a way, you have to do your due diligence to the process itself. When you hire a team to work on your project, you’re not hiring magicians – you’re hiring designers and/or developers who can only do so much without your involvement and guidance.
In website building, one thing leads to another so it’s imperative to set up a solid foundation you can easily build upon. For the project to go smoothly, here are some things you should know:
1. Everything begins and ends with planning
The first order of business is to plan the concept of your company’s website before you start the project. You need to have a clear goal of what you’re trying to do here so that you can provide actual benefit and not waste time and resources.
2. This is going to cost you
There’s no way around it. The only variable is the amount of money you will eventually shell out: sometimes it will be less than you anticipated, while other times it’s going to cost you more. Either way, be prepared for a dent in your wallet because your website is a business tool, and as such, should be treated as a key investment.
Once you adopt that notion, there are a lot of things to take into consideration. Naturally, budget will always be at the center of the conversation and a lot of the subsequent process will depend on it. When thinking about ROI, I always advise concentrating the most on the elements that will be converted to income, whether if it’s from selling a product, offering a service or even generating leads.
For instance, if you’re selling a product or a service, try to first understand how much you need to invest to build a site with that particular goal in mind, and then how and when you’re going to get the money back.
3. The platform you choose can make or break you
These days, there are so many platforms to build websites upon that it’s slowly becoming overwhelming. DIY options like Squarespace and Wix, e-commerce-centric Shopify and BigCommerce, the inevitable WordPress, and building in HTML as the more traditional way are just a small sample of an increasingly larger pool of website building tools.
Depending on your resources such as budget, time and manpower together with your specific needs, you need to choose a platform that is best suited for your business. Each platform has its pros and cons. For example, something simple like Wix is easy to build and manage while being very affordable but it’s generally not tailored to specific needs in terms of functionality.
It’s perfectly fine to start with a basic builder and have your needs fulfilled for a year or so until you get fully settled. But if you want to scale – and you do – you might want to upgrade from a low-cost platform to WordPress, in which case there’s an added cost of a developer. Hence, budgetary constraints come into play and as I said at the beginning – one thing leads to another.
4. Hiring experts should be mandatory and based on your needs, not wants
We all want the best for ourselves, and that sometimes means doing things on our own (like building a website) for the sense of personal accomplishment, especially if you’re running a small business and are under a tight budget.
In reality, that’s not a good idea as it rarely ends well. The fact that you have certain tools at your disposal doesn’t mean you have the necessary knowledge and expertise to do it properly. You can work really hard on it and still come away with a site that either doesn’t look professional, isn’t functional enough, or both or something else entirely.
You need to hire experts, the amount of which will depend on your needs. The designer counts as a basic hire, while a developer is the upgraded package. The rest: UX designer, UX planner, SEO expert, and so on are extras that come with the territory if those are what you truly need and can afford to hire.
5. You have to be responsive
As a person who orders a project like this, you have to actively participate in the process. If the people you hired request your feedback on something and don’t get it, it slows down the entire project. As a result, you get delays and breached deadlines instead of an end product designed according to your vision and customer needs.
6. Have branding ready
A website without an identity is just plain weird. No logo, no graphic interface that stands out, no icons, photos, and all the content that typically makes a business website unique is one very unmemorable affair. It won’t resonate with your audience and clients the way you want it to. So it’s important to go into a project like this one with branding in place so your website not only looks like a proper website but is also unique in its own way.
7. Learn the system
Even if it’s a simple dashboard on Wix or WordPress, you must know how to work within those parameters. Most of the time, the designer and developer you’ll be working with will teach you how to manage the website and manage the content – you simply have to learn this by heart. As I mentioned before, your website is a tool you need to know how to handle and utilize for various purposes. Which brings me to my final point:
8. Live website is just the beginning
After everything is seemingly done, people don’t realize the project doesn’t end when a developer and designer build a website and it goes live. On the contrary – that’s when the actual job starts as far as you are concerned. Each website is a living thing and it requires a fair amount of babysitting. Furthermore, like any other tool being used by your business, if you don’t use it correctly, it wont turn in any profit.
It needs to be updated on a regular basis. There will be changes, some things will be added and others removed – that’s what you’ll be frequently dealing with. You need to start marketing the website as well – the fact that your website is live doesn’t mean people know about it. If you don’t properly manage the website after you build it, it becomes a failed investment, money down the drain.
A good business website is crucial to your success
Those would be my tips and advice about the pre- and post-building stages of value-oriented website building. The most important part actually starts after the website is live. It’s never complete and as soon as you start managing this tool, you begin to make money. Up until this point, all you did was spend – now it’s time to pump up the ROI.