One of the best analogies to understand what you need for a great website is building a house. Whether you are technically inclined or don’t understand the web at all, following the same steps needed to build a house will help you avoid mistakes and common pitfalls.
First, you need a plan.
To know what the right plan is, you need to know your requirements. A one bedroom home generally won’t work for a family of five. Take time to define what you need from your website.
Pick the right support to get you there.
You likely can’t do it all from electrical to roofing. Define where you need help. You will need service providers for website hosting. Pick a content management system that makes it easy for you to maintain your site. Hire professionals to help you from start to finish or for specific pieces that you don’t want to handle yourself.
Pay attention to the decor.
Understand the look and feel that is in sync with your business and your target audience. You want a look and feel that both represents who you are and appeals to your customer. This starts with the approach, your home page, and goes deep into your website.
It’s tempting to re-purpose content that you have created for other purposes or for an older website. Give it all a good look over to make sure that the content will still work well at your new site. The furniture you had in that college apartment may not look quite right in your first home as an adult.
Verify, and verify again.
Soon after we signed the contract to build our new house, we found ourselves in a design center making a ton of choices. We had to select everything from flooring to bath fixtures.
This should sound familiar to anyone who has recently done a website project. There are many decisions to be made before you get even the first glimpse of your new site. It is challenging to make those decisions based on your best guess of what will look great.
My builder dealt with this by checking back on all those decisions with us several times in the process. We went over the list before the order was submitted. We went over it again before construction started. And, we went over it again before the drywall work got started.
All of these checkpoints have occurred before the first selected element was installed, but they were important opportunities to recall the choices we made as well as chances to reconsider some options.
Revisiting your decisions is a healthy part of the web development process. Ask yourself:
- Do these decisions still sound right?
- Did I miss something that needs to be considered now?
Don’t be afraid to revise your thinking as well as to confirm what you are doing and why.
Involve others early on.
It’s never too soon in the process to get “outside” opinions. If you are not asking your employees and target audience(s) sanity check questions at every step along the way you are missing an opportunity to make course corrections that can greatly improve your results.
Using the house analogy should give you a good framework for your website development or redesign project. For help with your website project, please contact me at [email protected].