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HELP! I need a website and don't know where to start?

BY Riaan Miles

Creating a new website or updating your existing one can be daunting.  We all feel lost when depending on a third party to provide a service or product we know absolutely nothing about.  Then there’s the jargon… mobile friendly, SEO, SEM, inbound marketing, Google indexing, search engine friendly and social media etc.  Don’t worry, we are here to help. 


Leaving your web design to an agency without doing some homework or supplying a basic brief is a recipe for disaster.  Not only can this frustrate and delay the process, but you might end up with a solution that does not fit your vision.  On the other hand giving the designer a brief that is too prescriptive can interfere with creativity and the practicalities of building an aesthetically pleasing well ranking website.
 
Have a look at some important tips below:

1.  Sort out your logo or Corporate Identity first

Professional agencies will do their utmost to deliver a product that compliments and supports your brand, its colours and vision.  Sort out your brand or corporate identity first.  All marketing material, whether online or in print will echo your brand.  Do not start on this journey without focussing on this first.

2.  Do your homework

Take some time to do your research.  You do not need to re-invent the wheel.  Visit a few websites.  These websites can be from your competitors, your peers or similar companies.  Learn from them.  Are they doing well in Google?  Are these sites appealing?  What are they saying to their visitor?  Make notes of what you like or dislike from them.  Add this information to your design brief.  Add links to at least two sites you really love!


A word of caution, NEVER COPY INFORMATION FROM AN EXISTING WEBSITE! 

3.  Find the right agency, ask for recommendations?

Ask around.  Speak to family, friends or other companies.  Use social media and ask for a recommendation.  Ask the agencies you are interested in to provide links to some of their work and testimonials. 

 

It’s easy.  Have a look at their portfolio and call some of their clients.  Ask about the quality of the agency's work.  Ask about the website's visibility or activity, i.e. form requests or online orders.  Does the agency stick to lead time?  Is the agency invested in the development of your site or are they unavailable?  These are critical questions to ask before embarking on a web design collaboration with anyone.

4.  Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish

We hear many stories from unhappy clients that first took the cheapest option.  It takes a strong team of qualified people to provide an excellent website.  Good work does not come cheap.  What is important to measure?

  • Are the agency’s other sites performing in Google Search?
  • Are they using open source software of qualified developers that can create bespoke solutions?
  • Are these sites Mobile Responsive?
  • Does your agency provide reliable support?
  • Is this agency providing additional services (pay per click advertising or inbound marketing) to improve your online footprint and exposure?  These value added services go hand in hand with great web site design.
  • Does this agency have a staff compliment to provide updates when required?  
  • What is the turnaround time for updates or can you update your own website when completed?

 
REMEMBER:  There are many cheap website agencies out there.  Make sure your site can tick the boxes above.  A cheap website might save you money at first, but may never rank well in search, generate leads or impact your bottom line.  Starting from scratch will cost you more.  Visibility in Google is the most important consideration when selecting your agency.  

5.  Preparing an easy to follow structure for your website is critical for visitors and search engines.

What is your message to your visitor?  What are you trying to say?  Use the pointers below to create your website's pages and sub-pages.

 

You need to answer these basic questions for every page of your website:


Who are you talking to? 

What are you saying to them? 

How are you saying it? 

Why are you talking to them (your value proposition)?


Group your key services or products and this will form the structure of your web page menu.  A professional web design agency must be able to facilitate this process and assist you with penning down your website's structure.  We normally consult with our client during this phase of the design process to ensure optimal search engine targeting.

6.  Know what you are paying for?

The three pillars for great website design are:

  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • Mobile Responsiveness
  • Fast Page load speed and a great User Experience

Many agencies do not offer search engine optimisation.  Paying for a website without SEO is similar to designing an amazing flyer and putting it in your drawer.  It’s really nice to look at, but only you can see it.  SEO is the foundation of an excellent website and facilitates better ranking in Search Engines.  Mobile responsive websites that are easy to navigate and load quickly creates a great user experience.   Make sure this functionality exists in the design.  


Google does not see what your visitor or you see.  It tests the quality of your website's content and architecture.  Spending endless hours on the aesthetics and ignoring these requirements will result in poor rankings in Google Search.  Don't get me wrong.  Your site needs to be appealing to the visitor, but you cannot ignore Google to be found by them.


IT Design provides all the services discussed in this blog.  We are a Google Partner Agency and accredited domain registrar. Most of our websites score 90% - 100% in Google's User Experience Index and ranks very well in search.  Many of our sites can be found on page 1.

 

Download our website design guideline here for more detailed advice.  Your success is ours!  You are welcome to contact us for assistance at https://www.websitedesignpe.co.za/contact. 

 August 24, 2015
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