Download: A Guide To Getting A Proper Website
A colleague at an internship job once said to me, that not all websites are created equal. This was after we had a strong difference of opinion, about the work we had presented on a task we were supposed to complete, as an assignment for the internship programme.
I did not initially agree with him regarding his assessment, because I was too emotionally invested in the situation, believing that my work was better than his. Later, after fairly considering both our works, I conceded that he had indeed done a better job for what was required.
Getting a proper website is also an involved activity involving a lot of decisions, some of which may be clouded by emotion, fears, and ill-informed opinions. In this blog post, I would like to give some guidance, on the considerations you have to take, when designing or redesigning a website for your business or organisation.
What I have noticed over the years building websites for clients, is that most of them look at the process as a secondary activity. They have no clue what is involved, or how the website is related to their business or organisation. What they need to be doing, however, is get more invested in the process.
It is a good idea to at least invest some time into educating yourself, about what actually goes on in the process of developing your website. Your research does not have to be highly technical in nature, or be too detailed, but it should be adequate to have you clued in.
You need to be clued in enough, to be able to hold meaningful conversation with the person designing and developing your website. Being clued in will ensure that you get the best out of the relationship between yourself and your web designer and developer.
One of the advantages of doing research into the process of your website being designed and developed, is that you will be in a better position to plan. Planning is essential, as it gives direction to the web design and development process.
There are many questions you will need to answer during the planning stages. Is your website going to be static or dynamic? If it is going to be dynamic, which content management system do you prefer, and why? How are you going to structure your content.
Planning helps your website development process have direction. It leaves little room for disagreements between you and your designer and developer, once the product is finished. In the absence of planning, it may otherwise mean going back to the drawing board often, and wasting time. Planning also allows you to distil what the purpose of your website is, and stick to it upon execution.
Like I already mentioned, all websites are not created equal. And one of the highest distinctions in this regard, is the adherence to the latest trends in tech and design. This is one of the reasons why you have to do your research, in order to know what these trends are.
For example, right now responsive design is one of the major trends in web design. Therefore unless you are aware of such trends, you cannot demand them of your developer.
Obviously trends change, and you have to be informed enough to keep up with the changes. Keeping abreast of developments in web design and tech trends, will ensure that your website maintains the best standards and is also secure.
Web site security is an area that should not be ignored. There are a lot of threats and vulnerabilities out there, to which your website is exposed all the time. You need to ensure that your developer has security measures in place, to protect your website from these threats and vulnerabilities.
Whilst it is not possible to eliminate all threats to your website’s security, it is possible to minimise the risk involved. In the Developing A Comprehensive Website Strategy blog post, I outlined some of the security risks involved with a website and how to deal with them.
Search Engine Optimization, S E O, is the art of improving the visibility of web pages, in the unpaid results of search engines. There are many websites out there, with many more being created moment by moment.
In order to improve your chances of being found when people search on search engines like Google, it is pertinent that S E O be carried out on your website. It is a good idea to have your web developer carry out at least basic S E O on your website. And if finances permit, full S E O should be carried out.
Sometimes people tend to focus too much on the price. How much it is going to cost them. I recently lost a job to someone, who said they found someone who would do it much cheaper, even when I had offered a discounted rate. I however have my reservation that the alternative developer will not do a good job.
You need to be very careful when deciding to offer someone the job of developing your website, when the only consideration is price. You need to ask yourself whether they are capable of delivering a quality and secure product. Whether they have the capability and experience.
The problem with things on the cheap, most of the time, is that you will end up with a poor quality product, and will likely end up paying more in the long run. Once you realise that you received a poor quality product, you will have to go through the process all over again, to get the job redone and this ends up being more costly in terms of both time, effort and money.
I see most people make the mistake of thinking that once they build a website and it goes live, their work is done. Far from it: this is just the beginning. There is content management that need to be done on the website, and there is site maintenance as well as marketing strategies to think of.
The purpose of content management, is to keep the website content fresh, in order to attract an audience. No one is going to come to your website if nothing ever changes but stays the same. Site maintenance is involved with keeping the website software up to date in order to keep the site current and secure.
Ultimately, as time passes, there will be a need to redesign the website in order to give it a modern and fresh look. All these changes have to be planned for. And if you ask me, owning a website is a journey where nothing should ideally stay the same, and you should plan for this.
Thinking about getting a new website, or refurbishing an old one? How are you going about things? Share with us in the comment section below.
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