You Know You Need A NEW Website, What Now?
So, 2020 is about to arrive and you are realizing that your online marketing is not where it needs to be for your company to soar in the new decade. Often companies struggle with their marketing plans for the upcoming year, especially in light of our booming digital age. Our advice is the best place to always start is with your business’s website. But, what do you do when you need a new website and have no idea where to start? Here are some steps that can help you in deciding what your next action is and how to get started.
First Question, Do You Have a Website Already?
Often, when a company already has a site, the tendency is to look at updates rather than building a whole new website. After all, you have already invested a great deal of time, labor and money in your present website. First thing to remember is that your website should be updated at least every 3-4 years. If your current website is built on a template based, or “freebie” site platform, you are not going to receive the SEO performance you need to meet your company’s 2020 marketing goals. In addition, many of these type websites are very limiting in appearance. You could end up with a website that is a copy of another website or even worse, does not encourage visitors. With the affordability and options for WordPress most times it is just more economical to go with a new website.
Okay, so a NEW Website Is the Way to Go
So, you have decided a new website is the way to go, what now? As discussed, unless you are a Fortune 500 Company with big bucks to spend, a WordPress site is the most advised platform to go with for a website. WordPress provides a large flexibility in terms of appearance, functionality and user friendliness.
Steps to Building a Website
Once you have agreed upon the platform of your new site you have a number of steps you should follow to begin your build. Following these will help you to assure your website stays on time and on budget.
Find A Good Website Developer. Any good website requires someone with experience, expertise and training in site design and development. Your website developer should ALSO have at least a minimal understanding of marketing. In addition, it is crucial that your website developer has a good understanding of optimal SEO (Search Engine Optimization) practices. Do your research and find a developer who has a proven results record. Read their Google Reviews and ask for references when seeking a developer.
Make a Good, Reasonable Budget. This is the cornerstone, most important tool in your marketing arsenal. This is NOT the time to go cheap. Cutting corners by hiring someone who is a “friend’s son or daughter” or using an ultra-cheap third-party online developer will only result in a website that is less that what you want or need. Again do your research, look at competitor sites. Gain a basic knowledge of the features you want your website to have and make sure your budget reflects your desires.
Look at local marketing agencies who cater to small and medium businesses and offer a broad range of services inhouse. Often agencies such as The Mauldin Group will have a creative team that offers website development along with SEO, content management and graphic design all in one place!
Decide where your website will be hosted. While you may already have a site currently hosted with a provider such as Go Daddy, it pays to check around. One benefit you may not know about is web hosting with your developer. This can be a BIG advantage as your developer already knows the intricacies of your particular site. This is especially helpful when looking at your website transfer and regular maintenance.
Take Part in a Website On-boarding / Content Meeting. Most developers will request an initial website on-boarding content meeting. Often you may be asked to fill out some initial website question forms. This is an important part of your website build process so don’t skip it! These forms while you may feel are a nuisance will help your site developer to understand your company, services and products. It will help them to see who your target audience is so that they can design your website to attract your ideal potential customer.
In addition, this meeting will help to flesh out any particulars for your website structure. Keep in mind this is also when you will decide on things like who is providing the content. Are you porting it over from an old site, writing it yourself or allowing the team to write it for you? Don’t assume that copywriting is part of your development, this is very often a separate service.
What ALL Websites SHOULD Have
- A Well-Planned Website Menu with clear, easy navigation
- Cohesive Branding including your company logo
- Good SEO Optimized Structure and Text Content
- Great Graphics
- A HOME Page (This answers the Who, What, When, Where and How of your business)
- An About Us Page
- Services or Products Pages (These should be created with SEO in mind)
- A Testimonials Page
- A Blog (This is optimal for continued content updates for SEO)
- A Contact Page
- Social Media Links
- CTAs (Calls to Action)
What ALL Website MUST Have
- A SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) Certificate. This is a website security technology that protects sensitive visitor information. Having SSL means there is a secure connection between a website visitor’s browser and the company server. * Google gives websites with SSL a SEO boost in the rankings.
- A Mobile-Optimized Design. We are a mobile society. Websites must provide optimal viewing and navigation across a host of devices including: pcs, laptops, smart phones, and tablets.
- ADA (The Americans with Disabilities Act) Compliance. Title III of the ADA has been interpreted to apply to business websites. In 2018 a ruling was passed that requires business websites to be accessible to people with disabilities including: vision, hearing, and physical capacities.
Other Features a Website CAN Have
- A Partners Page
- A Resources Page (This is especially helpful if your business is in the medical or consultation fields)
- A Slider
- A Photo Gallery
- Tables (These can allow a business to offer a lot of site content – information in a clean organized format)
Get Your Content In. Depending on whether you are providing content, or you are allowing your website development team to produce your written content, you will have a deadline to get your text content to the team and reviewed. Keep in mind you want this content to be written to provide optimal SEO. A trained marketing team will often research and write text content to assure the most opportunities to drive traffic to your site.
In addition, your web developer may also ask you to provide other forms of content for your website depending on your on-boarding meeting. This content can take the form of images, logo graphics, videos/video links, and PDFs. All of your content should be into the developer and approved for them to begin the official web development phase.
Website Development Takes Place. Often this can be the most exciting and anxious time of the new site process. Depending on what you have discussed in the way of communication, you may be an active part of the development process with frequent approval requests. HOWEVER, more so than not, this process will be handled solely within the site development team with your only being a part of the process in the approval phase. While you may be anxious to see the work, keep in mind that often-requesting updates or page views can delay and even stall the process. Many development companies base their website pricing on the ability to offer a streamlined website development process, with a full approval phase at the end. This not only allows for a better affordability for the customer but can also greatly decrease site development time…a win/win for both clients and the developer.
Website Review, The Approval Phase. When your website has been fully developed the developer will often send you what is called a “One-Round of Revisions” development link. At that time, you will be asked to carefully review your site and provide a full list of edits or revisions to the developer for changing.
These Edits MAY include:
- Please move this sidebar to the right/left
- Please replace this image with a new one
- Please change the color of the menu bar
These Edits Should NOT include:
- Text changes (as the content has already been approved)
- New Page additions
- Whole Theme or large-scale changes not agreed upon earlier…i.e. adding e-commerce
*BEWARE-If these requests are made, they are usually considered new or “out of the scope of the project” and can require additional FEES. This is why it is extremely important to review, discuss and agree in writing about the scope of your project at your website on-boarding meeting.
Your Website Is Ready to Launch! This is the exciting phase of your web development project. You have submitted your changes; they have been performed and your site is ready to go live. It is important to make sure that if you are not hosting with your developer that you have provided them with all the important information to transfer your website.
These may include:
- Web Hosting Information (including contacts), Logins, etc.
- C-Panel (Control Panel) Access or FTP (File Transfer Protocol) Access
While this can be a simple process, missing this information and having to “track it down” can often delay your site launch. Once the information is provided it usually takes 24 hours for a website to go live but can take as much as one week depending on your site host.
The Mauldin Group Offers A Whole Team Approach to Website Development
When it comes to website development, The Mauldin Group offers experience, expertise and results. Working with companies of all sizes, we can provide websites with full features, superior SEO and creative content. Whether your site requires one to one hundred pages, our developers have the experience to provide a streamlined web development process that delivers an affordable, user-friendly and visually impactful website in an expedient timeframe.
Let Us Take Your Digital Marketing to The Top of Google Rankings!
Ready for a website that delivers great branding and optimal SEO rankings? Contact Us Now or Call (678) 846-2306.