An Easy, Effective Checklist to Creating a Website
Creating a website or updating your current website can be an intimidating endeavour, but with the right tools and help this can be a seamless process. If this process is not planned and managed properly it can be both time consuming and expensive. One way to create an effective web site with minimum fuss is to start with a good plan. To get started, write a list of what you need on your site.
The following checklist to creating a website is a simple but effective guide to start:
Purpose: The first step in creating a website is deciding on its purpose. Will you be using it for blogging, promotion, e-commerce etc? This is very important as this will determine the necessary features. For example, an e-commerce website will require a payment feature where customers can pay for their items on the site or be routed to a third party site like Paypal. Also, who are you targeting with your website? We recommend going thru a discovery process to identify pain points (aka problems) that your customer has and addressing them on your site to attract specific niche target that qualifies as potential clients for you.
Priorities: Decide what is critical for your website today. Can you start with a simple site and add more bells and whistles later? Write down what you need now, versus later.
Domain Name: This is the first thing that you will need. A domain name is your digital web address. It is what your potential visitors will use to connect to your website. For example, the domain of this website is adavenue.com. This is also called a Universal Record Locator (URL). Domain names can be easily purchased at hosting sites such as www.godaddy.com and www.namecheap.com. Each site has a feature that you can check if a name is already being used. The cost of purchasing and registering a domain name is approximately $10 – $20 per year.
Email Address: Purchase an email address. A branded email address builds trust and credibility. Using a free service like Gmail or Yahoo gives the impression that you are not operating a legitimate, professional organization. The best option is to get an email address with your domain main. Again this is fairly inexpensive at approximately $5 per month.
Site Pages and Features: Develop a list of your website requirements such as:
- Number of website pages
- Amount of website storage (images and videos mean more storage space)
- Tools such as online forms, blogs, customer reviews, maps, slideshows
- Links to or integration with social media
- Video and/or audio players
- Shopping cart
Do-it-yourself or Professional Services: This is one of the most important decisions you will make when creating your website. If you want to create the website yourself there are many easy to use website builder software such as WordPress, Wix, Squarespace and Weebly. One thing to consider when creating the website yourself is the growth potential of your business. If your business outgrows your website, you may not be able to move your content to a new site. Another concern with DIY websites is that you may not be able to fully customize the site. When choosing a professional to create your website, make sure that they understand your business and your vision, that way they can offer advice and insights that you may not have considered.
Web Hosting: A web hosting service is an Internet hosting service that allows individuals and organizations to make their website accessible to its visitors via the internet. A web host provides space on its server (storage) so that other computers around the world can access your website using a network or modem. There are thousands of hosting services available, ranging from free with limited options to expensive, specialized web hosting services. You choose your service based on how you plan to use it and how much you are willing to spend.
Plan and Develop Content: There is a popular saying that “Content is king” it is true as that is predominantly what will attract visitors to your website. Content includes blogs, articles, infographics, photos anything that your visitor will find useful and valuable. The content should be a clear indicator of what you do and who you are, whether the site is personal or a business entity. However, the most important content on your website is your business’ contact information such as your company’s branded email address, physical address if needed, and telephone number, as well as any required information your line of business may require such as a state license number.
Promote your website: Having an awesome website that nobody is aware of is a waste of time and money so it is important to promote your site. Think about how visitors will find your website. Promote your web address on business cards, social media, in online directories etc. Google and other search engines offer free Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tools that can help to organically boost web search ranking. Google analytics tool also tracks pretty much every bit of traffic you could imagine on your website; Analytics also shows many keyword insights as to which terms people use to land on your pages.
Maintain your website: You must budget time and effort to maintaining a website. Ensuring that you have backups, security and maintenance are crucial to not only the health of your site but your business. Regardless of the type of structure, you decide to build your site, you will need to do upgrades to CMS (e.g. WordPress), plugins, and/or extensions. Virus’, malware or just plain human error can cause your site to go down and you should invest in systems that will keep your site running smoothly and ensuring that your customers visit is a stable one.
Whether you are creating a website for a business or personal use the above checklist will be invaluable.