When you need a website, you probably wanted it up and running last week! Using website builders like Squarespace and Wix are perfect for certain businesses, but before you decide if it’s right for yours here are some things to consider.
In this post, I’m going to give you an overview of how to prepare and plan your website from design to launch, and what you need to be online in 30 days.
Time spent: 8 hours or 1 business day
Questions to answer before starting:
- Why do I want a website?
- What is my budget for a website?
- How often will I be updating my website?
- Is my business sustainable on a website builder site?
- When do I want this done by?
Some of you love the DIY lifestyle. There is a lot of satisfaction is envisioning what you want and creating it. However, for your business, you need to consider a couple of things.
First, do you have the time to put into creating your website. Designing a website, picking out templates, and creating pages and content is time consuming. If this is just a resource website and not something you are updating often, putting the time into doing a DIY website is probably perfect for you. There are a lot of large companies, like Pixar, that use a Squarespace site because it gives them an online presence and that’s all that they need.
The second thing to consider is how you are using your site: Do you want your website to maintain an online presence or is it more of a sales tool? Our team has worked with a lot of businesses who have outgrown their website builder site. We often hear, “if it just did X it would be fine.” Since these sites have to be flexible to all kinds of businesses, they miss a lot of industry specific features. This is where a design and development team can take you to the next level.
Total time spent: 10 business days or 2 weeks
After you have decided the route to go, it’s time for the design phase. In design, you will start to get a feel for what your site will look like, but there is still some more work you need to do before passing it off to a developer or before selecting your website builder template.
Internal time spent: 1 business day
This is usually the time when a client questions whether they need a new logo, new typeface selections, and a fresh color scheme. The design phase is definitely the ideal time to have these discussions. If you think it may be time for a rebrand, we highly recommend conducting a branding session with your team.
Branding sessions can take some time, but after a few hours, you know what personality you want your brand to have and where you want to take your business moving forward. This type of strategic thinking is critical in making sure that your website accomplishes the goals you have for your business.
Internal time spent: 3 business days
With a brand personality, you can also work on crafting your message. The notes from your branding session will be helpful in writing the text for your internal pages. This is also the point where, if you aren’t a writer, you can bring in a content creator to flesh out your message and get it ready to go online.
Having your content written during the design phase will give your web design team more direction when creating your wireframe. From your content, they can focus their design on the user experience and effectively guide them through your website and ideally take them from casual visitor to your newest customer.
WIREFRAME + MOCKUP
Time spent: 10 business days
Once your brand and your content starts coming together, its NOW time to think about your website’s design. The first phase is wireframes.
With a wireframe, you want to sketch on paper the main blocks your site. When you draft a wireframe, the question you are answering is “Where does my content go?”
The wireframe will outline where photos, video, text, and CTAs are placed. This quick sketch is basically your website at 30,000 feet. Make sure you can visualize where the content will be place. If you see something missing or the flow feels off, make a change. If you are working with a design team, this is the hardest, but most important time to speak up. It’s hard because you can’t physically see the whole thing, but it’s important because this is the easiest time to make adjustments.
From the wireframe comes the mock-up. Your designer will take the wireframe and drop in your content so you can now see what the finished product will look like. This is usually where revisions start to be requested. If you are working with a team, make sure that there is a meeting scheduled to review your mockups. Before that meeting, get your notes together on what you like (and why) and what you dislike and want changed. These notes will be the guide your development team will use when making adjustments. If it’s not in there, it will stay as it was in the original mockup. Be honest, be critical, and know that you aren’t going to hurt someone’s feelings. Your design team wants you to be happy with what you see.
After a couple of rounds of revisions it’s time to bring your site from concept to completion.
Time spent: 10 business days
For the DIYer, this is where you will select your template and start dropping in in your content. Testing the site and making sure all the features that you need are available and functioning as you expect them to.
If you have chosen to work with a design and development team, this is where they takeover. You have done some solid heavy lifting and put a lot of thought, now’s the time when your developer will take all that and bring it to fruition.
You may be a little worried to step back for a bit, but knowing about what you will receive at the end of it will relieve some of that anxiety.
If you aren’t familiar with WordPress, here’s a little background. WordPress runs over a third of all websites on the internet. As open source software, developers can tailor the needs for an client making it work for business large and small.
We have helped clients of all skillsets increase sales with their WordPress websites by
- Creating custom landing pages within their site. Allowing them to track where leads came from so they can properly follow-up with the right information in the most ideal format.
- Embedding a dynamic calendar promoting events.
- Using different customer funnels with contact forms to collect information at the right time.
- Styling custom post types with are ideal for the user who is afraid of “breaking something”. Custom post types give those use the ease of mind to be able to pick from an unbreakable layout that will make each post fit the layout they need without having to do anything special.
The backend of WordPress is easy to manage so you will get a website at the end that doesn’t can be updated internally, but can also be adjusted as your business grows.
Time spent: 2 days
Once your development team has coded out your site. It’s time for you to test it. Click everything. Go to every page. Make copious notes about what works and what doesn’t. The QA phase is your final stage before your website is launched so you want to make sure that it is exactly as you want.
At the end of your website journey, you will be excited and a little nervous for the world to see what you have been working on. While you want everything to work and be perfect, minor imperfections are expected. Most development teams you work with will follow-up with a few complimentary adjustments that weren’t caught during QA. As long as these are kept to a minimum, they shouldn’t add to the cost of the website.
Now is the time to share your new site with your customers by promoting it! Shout from the rooftops, send out an email to your customers, highlight your new site on social media, or add a blurb to your email signature. You want people to know that you are investing in your business and that they should think of you when they need you.
You are going to be involved in your website design. Whether you do it yourself or hire a team of developers, you need to commit time to making sure the design, content, and functionality will showcase your business in the most accurate way. Set aside at least 30-days to plan, design, and create your site for the best results. If you don’t have the time (or desire) to do it yourself, hiring a professional will give you a site that functions as you want it to with the ability to grow as your business grows.