The top 7 things to consider when thinking about a website

When it comes to nailing the online presence of your business and in particular your website, often the first question that comes to mind is where on earth do I start? Let’s get real. It can be rather overwhelming leaving you wanting to park it in the too hard basket, rather than tackling it head on. Here at Tread we thought we would put together our top 7 things to consider when thinking about a website. By breaking it down and taking some time to establish and collate some of the key objectives, needs and purpose of your website and business as a whole, the process can feel a little bit more achievable and manageable.

Whether you are going to attempt DIY or enlist the services of a business like us here at Tread, that works one on one with clients to build custom websites, the below tips are definitely good to put thought into no matter the direction you choose.

1. Tip one is to consider and define the purpose of your website

Take some time and really get to know your business. Yep, make your business your new best friend. Jot down your outcomes and objectives, goals, target customer and the specific reason or reasons why people visit your site. Does it need to have a purchase function via an ecommerce platform? Is it a place for customers to view and enlist your services? Or perhaps a space for information only? Or for lead generation or is it be a combination of things? When you start to define your purpose, you become very clear on what the site needs to include and what needs to be displayed.

2. Work out what functionality is required

Once you have worked out the purpose, next up is to consider the specific technical requirements that will be needed such as the integration of 3rd party software like accounting platforms, CRM’s or mail services including Mailchimp. Key questions that are helpful to ask include, does there need to be a login section for certain customers or clients? Is there a blog section? Who and how will content be updated on your site? If you decide to ditch the DIY approach and enlist the services of a business to build you a site, they will help you not only get clear on the purpose, but also the technical and functional needs that must be taken into account. They will be able to seamlessly walk you through these seven things plus more, that are the key starting points when thinking about a website space.

3. What’s your budget?

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room, the budget. What we offer here is to be realistic. A well-designed, customised site that is fully responsive or fluid (it’s a thing), unique to your business, truly reflects and amplifies your brand will come at a cost. But if you consider that this online landmark is in fact a 24/7 advertisement for your business and could be the reason someone does or doesn’t buy from you then it really is worth it. Plus, many people would probably be quite surprised if they knew the number of hours that goes into a fully customised site. We suggest looking at the overall cost as a 5 year investment that will allow your business growth, expansion and be a key marketing element of your operation. If you are considering the DIY path thinking it may save you dollars, really consider and weigh up your skill level, the flaws often in template sites and the many hours you will probably spend tearing your hair out trying to create your own site. Multiply those hours (for example you could easily spend 50—100 hours) by your own hourly rate and you will have the a rough guide to the true cost including lost billable hours and potential revenue.

4. Content

One of the overlooked elements of web design is content. When you work with a company more often than not they will offer a full package that includes copywriting and options to assist you in getting images done if needed. But if you are going the solo route and even if you are working with a designer, thinking about content, images, text you can supply etc is crucial to the design. A site isn’t complete without content and it can make all the difference to the final result. Remember the words on the site, and your brand voice is just as important as the imagery and the design. A well-designed site that is visually appealing but that has spelling mistakes and words that feel like a clunky mess rather than a well-oiled machine is equally as non-appealing as a poorly designed website.

5. SEO + Analytics + GTM

A website needs to be found and this is where SEO comes in. If you end up going for a custom build it’s likely that the company will offer this either as part of the build or as an optional extra. Going the DIY route can be tricky when it comes to SEO, the best options are often plugins that more often than not come as part of certain templates. If you are choosing a WordPress template (theme) our favourite SEO plugin is Yoast SEO. It has a simple to use ‘red, amber, green light’ interface and has a reasonably priced premium version for those looking to target multiple keywords per page. For those that are interested in learning more about on-page SEO, the Moz Beginners Guide to on-page SEO is a great place to start.

You’ll also want to know how many people are visiting and interacting with your site and this is where Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager come in.

6. On-going website maintenance and hosting

Often an overlooked part of the web design/build process. Depending on the platform you choose to build your website on (Shopify, Web flow, Big Commerce, Squarespace, WordPress, Wix…the list goes on) you may need to consider ongoing maintenance and hosting. Costs here will vary dependant on platform and the complexity of the site, but it’s worth considering prior to breaking ground on your project.

If you go the solo route and for example opted for a WordPress template, there will be multiple plugins and core WP files that need to be updated regularly. The main causes of a hacked WordPress website are out of date plugins and out of date WP core files. The key question here to also ask yourself is if you willing to devote the time to maintain your website or would you be better going the custom route and also developing an ongoing arrangement/retainer with the company that sees them take care of the ongoing website upkeep.

7. The custom website route

If you do decide to have a company build you a custom site, it is important to select a business or designer that you really relate to and feel comfortable with. Think of it as establishing a long-term business relationship. More often than not they may be the ones managing other areas of your business such as marketing and social media as well as updating and managing your website on an ongoing basis. Being comfortable from the start avoids those awkward situations that we all hate to deal with.

Hopefully this gives you a little bit of a place to start when looking at things to consider when thinking about a website and the online presence for your business. Remember one step at a time! There is no harm in speaking to a few different business’s/ designers even if you end up going the DIY route. You just never know it may save you a whole lot of time, money and heartache in the long run!

Here at Tread we are always up for a chat, feel free to reach out if you want to take the conversation further.

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