Starting a new website is like cooking up a new recipe; without a logical and methodical process, it can take new business owners many trials and errors before achieving success. Recipes come with unique ingredients, steps and a process to follow to increase success and create a cooking masterpiece.
Have you ever tried replicating a recipe without following the directions or using alternative ingredients? I know I have. My wife often comes home to my ‘creative cooking’, as she calls it, but the taste and presentation do not always fit the appetite. However, in this case, I’m referring to spending less than $50 on cooking experiments where the cost of failure is easily absorbed and used as a learning experience. However, when considering starting a new website, the cost is often a lot more than $50 and a few hours.
This guide will walk through the most common approach used to start and complete a successful website.
Step #1 – Preparing and collecting all your ingredients before starting your new website
The most logical step, but often the most neglected step, is planning.
Think of planning as preparation for cooking. How often have you started cooking a meal without checking if the ingredients are in the fridge?
As an entrepreneur, it’s important to plan before spending any money on any new business idea or website. If you haven’t put together your recipe for success, otherwise known as a business plan, I suggest reviewing this article “6 Things to consider before spending money on a new business idea”.
Increase your chances by having a structured approached to business; act like a successful business in your approach and success will follow. However, the reverse is also unhealthy in over planning and never executing. In other words, don’t get caught in analysis paralysis, but rather, focus on the essential and a process to act on it.
What is analysis paralysis?
Analysis paralysis is when entrepreneurs over-analyze or over-think a situation to the point of not taking any action — in other words, paralyzing the new business idea or website. Having a plan is essential, but no plan needs to be perfect. The incessant pursuit of perfection with your new business idea or website means it likely will die before even starting.
Does this state of mind sound like someone you know?
Have a look at this great article on Forbes that helps overcome the analysis paralysis of decision making.
Step #2 How to choose the right web development company for your new website
Choosing a web development company is like choosing your next business partner, family pet or career opportunity. In other words, it’s a decision that will stick with you and hard to change. As a rule, it’s important you choose wisely as this decision can make or break your business. For instance, it’s common for some web development companies to offer cheaper services than others. However, the cost is less important than the understanding they have for your web development project.
More specifically, it’s common for web development companies to misquote customers making the initial web development offer very appealing but ends up costing business owners more when all is said and done.
If unsure, challenge your web development company on their understanding of your business.
Chose a web development company that will challenge your ideas and help poke holes in your plan. Don’t pick a “yes man” web development company, who isn’t interested in seeing your business succeed. In most cases, these companies might cost less upfront but will end up costing you more long-term.
Have a look at this great article “8 things to consider when choosing a web development company,” which helps entrepreneurs make the smart decision when picking a web development company.
To summarize, when building a new website, there are hundreds of different ways to achieve the desired result. A large part of choosing how to start developing your website comes from the experience and expertise of your web development company. If you’ve taken the time to choose a company that cares about your project and has experience in your industry, it’s important to rely on their strengths and advise when developing your new website.
Step #3 The process of creating a successful new website and online business
It’s one thing to have a business plan, but it’s now time to convert that business plan into actionable milestones. In other words, web development companies shouldn’t start coding a website without having a design strategy first. The four most basic chronological steps to get a new website started are; design, develop, test and launch.
Milestone #1 – Web design, wireframe and setting the visual appeal of the new website
Web design is the process of gathering all the ideas and visually arranging them for presentation on the web. It’s important to complete your web design ahead of web development.
Here are the most notable elements of web design to consider:
- The layout is how the visual graphics, ads and text will be displayed on the website. The goal is to make the most prominent elements stand out for higher customer appeal and conversions. In other words, go back to your new website goals. Your layout should speak to your goals.
- The colours you choose will reflect your brand and convey what type of company you are. You’ve most likely heard the expression that a picture is worth a thousand words? Well, in the case of a website, your colours also have this effect on future customers.
- The graphics are used to enhance the visual appeal of a website and make your website stand out.
- The fonts are used to display your content on the website. It’s important to use various fonts to enhance a website design but stay within the most common web-browser fonts known as “web-safe fonts.”
- The content is used to enhance the products and services of the site through text but also visual.
More importantly, the process needs to also consider the impact of the design towards the business goals. In most cases, SEO is a huge factor for any new website, which means the design should do its best to meet the highest standards of SEO upfront. It’s common for entrepreneurs to get caught up on the visually appealing side of design and think SEO later. However, that’s backwards thinking and often results in poor google ranking and customer conversions.
Milestone #2 Web development of the new website
Now that your web design is complete, it’s time to add zeros and ones and bring the project to life.
A good web development company should provide customers with a visual demonstration of what website pages will look like before starting code.
One of the most common mistakes is to make changes “a la carte,” which can often result in hidden bugs because something is changed before initial development finishes. That said, don’t get me wrong, making changes is possible. We do them all the time, but clients must consider the potential impact it will have on the site performance and promised delivery time.
Think of it this way: the web design was done to offer a unified look across the website. If you change something, how does this affect user experience and functionalities across the website?
Web design and web development user-friendliness
Great, we now have a nice-looking website, but is it user-friendly? It’s important to make sure the web design and development offer users a clean and easy to use experience. If the website is too complicated to use, the referral rate and customer enragement could take a massive blow. As a rule, consider the user-friendliness of your website by paying attention to the following factors:
- The navigation, how easy is it to navigate from page to page and perform actions. It’s important to consider the site architecture, menus and other navigation tools while keeping a focus on how users browse and search. In short, the goal is to help users navigate the new website with ease, allowing them to find valuable information.
- The multimedia found on a website like videos and audios can help potential customers grasp the information easier and faster.
- The compatibility refers to how well the website will perform on different browsers, operating systems and mobile devices.
- The technology used can have a dramatic impact on the tools and resources available to grow. Most importantly, developing in a less common language will impact how much after support will be available.
- The website interaction refers to allowing active participation from users on the website by adding comment boxes and opinion polls in the design.
Milestone #3 Testing the new website before going live
Different kinds of testing should be performed on a website before launching. In most cases, a large part of the testing is more technical and often completed by the development company. However, it’s recommended you take the new website for a spin.
In other words, as a child did you ever see buttons you weren’t supposed to press? Well, as part of your testing, it’s important to test all website functionalities and press all the buttons. If you are confused by the results, then your users will be too.
Below are the more common things to test while your website is in staging getting ready to go live:
- Checking all website content for spelling, grammar, punctuation
- Checking and testing all forms (newsletters, signups and more)
- Checking all images making sure they are optimized for web (reduce size for speed)
- Checking site speed (get your FREE score at uptrends)
- Checking mobile-friendliness
- Checking combability with other browsers
- Checking navigation of the website and menus
- Checking 404 error pages
- Checking your Favicon
- Checking your 301 redirects
- Checking all the title tags, meta tags and image alt tags
- Checking website HTML/XML sitemap
- Checking robot.txt
- Checking website analytics code like Google Analytics
- Checking Facebook pixel analytics (if needed)
- Checking social media integrations
- Checking website monitoring and alerts
- Checking website backup
- Checking traffic loads
- Checking protected pages if these require login
- Checking SSL Certificate
Milestone #4 The new website goes live!
Well, there’s not much to be said here – you’ve tested your website, and now it’s time to share the fruits of your labour with the world.
As discovered by many entrepreneurs, getting a new website on the web is just the start of an amazing journey.
Starting a new online business can be a lot of fun and an amazing learning experience. However, planning and execution are key to success.
Design the website with the end in mind, don’t skip steps and test your product before going live.
Have a website or a new idea?
At QPSdigital, we understand what it takes to bring a website to life and have experience working with business owners to design and develop their new website.
Visit www.qpsdigital.com for a free consultation to discuss your project goals.
We look forward to connecting with you,
Christian Duguay – Owner at QPSdigital
Sales Professional, Entrepreneur and Family Man