Let’s not beat around the bush here: developing a new website is not a “hands off process”! There are lots of decisions for you to make and lots of work you need to do. The purpose of this section is to walk you through the process – so you know what you are getting yourself into at the outset and so that you know what you need to do once we’ve started. But, don’t panic! Our job is to walk you through this process and to help you to “know what you don’t know”.
If you have any questions at any time, just ask – that is what we are here for.
Step 1 – Make Some Major Decisions
1. What do you want your site to do?
Your website can do just about anything! At its most basic, it can provide information about you and your business. It can also perform a range of tasks such as enabling customers to purchase goods and services online, showcase your photographs or art work, enable people to book tickets to your event or book accommodation, offer other people’s products for sale (either through classified ads or online auctions) and much more.How do you know what is possible? The best way is to have a look at lots of different websites (not just in Australia) in a similar niche to your business – how do they do it? What do you like/dislike about how they work? How could you do it better? Make notes of the sites you visit and your observations – then send that to us – that will help us enormously to know what you want.
Once you have a bit of an idea about what you want – talk to us. We can provide you with some more specific info and suggestions that might help you to refine your concept.
2. How do you want your site to look?
Whatever you choose to do, your site obviously needs to look good! It needs to have good graphics, an intuitive and simple layout (so your customers can easily find what they are looking for), use fonts that are easy to read and attractive colours, and clearly brand your business.
Again, you can learn a lot by looking at other websites and the same questions apply:
- What do you like? (colours, fonts, layout, images, navigation structure etc)
- What don’t you like?
- How could you improve it?
To assist you (and us) with colour choices, have a look at a Web Safe Colour Chart. Let us know which colour combinations you prefer and we will use these colours in the design of the site.
To assist you with font choices – have a look at a Web Safe Font Chart. Like colors, only certain fonts will display properly on most systems. This chart shows you which fonts we can use for text on your website and be confident that it will render correctly for most people. Of course, there are many fonts available to purchase should you have a specific font in mind.
Do you want to have any photos or illustrations in the main design of your site (you will also be able to add images to each page of your site). A fantastic source of images is iStockPhoto – here you can select from a range of more than 2 million images.
Do you have a logo or other branding materials? If so, please send them to us and we will ensure your web design captures the essence of that branding. If you don’t, now is a great time to have your business branding created. You will be amazed at how affordable our logo and stationery design packages are. The logo will set the tone for the website design – and your branding can then be consistent across all your marketing, sales and information materials.
Do you want a hand to make design decisions? We have developed a WebCare Design Brief form to assist you to make the decisions necessary to help us design the perfect website for you. We have four versions of this form:
You don’t have to answer all the questions – just answer the ones that are most relevant for you. You can fill it in on your computer, then save it and email it back to us. If you have any questions about the form, just call us on 1300 656 902.
Step 2 – Make Some More Decisions
Once you are clear about the basic functionality and look of the site, you need to think some more about the detail. These questions will vary depending on the type of site you are building. Common ones include:
- What pages do you want on the site (e.g. Contact Info, FAQ, Shipping Info, Returns and Refunds, Privacy Statement)?
- What forms of payment will you accept? (we recommend PayPal – because there are no upfront or monthly fees, so it is a great way to start your online business)
- If you are selling products, what will your product categories be?
- If you are delivering products, how will you ship and what will your shipping rates be (fixed price, postcode, weight etc) ? If you want this calculated by your shopping cart, then let us know which option you want and all the necessary details.
- Where will you host your site? Webcare can host your site, with packages starting at $150 per annum.
- Do you need to register a domain name? Webcare can also take care of this for you.
Step 3 – Prepare Your Content
Whatever type of site you plan on building, you will need at least some text. Most sites (even shopping cart sites) will have between three and five information pages. You need to write these and send them to us, so we can include them in your site. If your site has a Content Management System (CMS), you can always edit these pages as you go.
Please send Webcare this content within one week of the design concept being finalised. Please ensure that the content is clearly labelled with where each page is to go and that images are properly named and, again, that we can easily see where they need to go. It will help enormously if your images are web-optimised. There are many handy online tools to help with optimising images for the web, including Image Optimizer.
If you have a shopping cart site, you will need to prepare not only text pages (shipping and payment info, FAQs etc), but also the product details (title, price, description, variables, manufacturer info, and photos). You can then enter this information yourself, or send it through to us and we can have it entered for you (for a small fee).
Assemble photos and other images for your site. A lot of sites use photos (this site being an exception!). You may have photos of you and your staff, or your office, or your products that you want displayed on your site. We can upload these pics to your site – just email them through to us. It is important to remember that you don’t need high resolution photos for websites – just clear ones! Most photos will be as small as 15kb, though large pictures may be 50 or 60kb.
If you would like to include images (photos or illustrations) on your site, but don’t have any that are suitable, we highly recommend you pay a visit to iStockPhoto. Type in a word or two and iStockPhoto will find hundreds, if not 1000’s of images that match. You can then refine your search by adding more words, selecting particular colours or opting for just photos or just illustrations. If you find something you like, you can download it, or we can download it for you. Remember, you only need the small size image for websites.
Step 4 – Feedback
Your feedback is a really important part of our design process. The more time you can spend reviewing the concepts, playing with the functionality, and testing the overall usability, the better the site will be. Email us your feedback and we will then make those changes to the concept and site (assuming the changes fall within scope – if not, we will provide a fixed price quote on implementing those changes). We will keep doing this until it looks and works exactly the way you want it to! We can’t stress enough the importance of you allocating time to do this during the development phase! It really will deliver you a massive dividend once your site is live.
Step 5 – Marketing
Once your site is live, the real work starts! You need to have a marketing plan to get traffic to your site. No matter how good your site is, you won’t get any sales or calls unless people are seeing it first! How will they find you? Will you advertise on Google (Google Adwords)? Will you submit your site to the major search engines? Will you post in forums or newsgroups? Will you print new business cards with your URL and new email address on it? Will you build an email list? Will you start a blog or a podcast?
Whatever approach you are going to do – you need to do something. Just because you’ve built it, doesn’t mean the masses will come! If you are not sure where to start, contact us and we will help you develop a marketing strategy for your site.
Step 6 – Monitor, Review and Improve
Once your site is up and running and you’re getting visitors to your site, you still have some work to do. Monitor your web stats (located in your hosting account control panel), your conversion rate (i.e. visitors:sales), your profit margin (i.e. revenue – expenses), your advertising return on investment (i.e. advertising cost : profit generated) and your overall business performance.
Once you are doing OK (i.e. making a profit), implement strategies to improve it it – small incremental changes can really add up (e.g. a 10% increase in traffic,a 10% increase in referrals, a 10% increase in sales, a 10% increase in average sale value (have you tried upselling?), and a 10% increase in follow-up sales) can really add to your bottom line. And one of the great things about the internet is that it is so easy to monitor every element of your business.