January 5, 2021
January 4, 2021
Small Business, Website Planning
Creating a new website for your business can be a pretty daunting task.
There are a lot of steps that you have to take in order to make sure that you do it correctly.
You have to first figure out if you actually do need a new website. Then you have to plan it all out. You have to find someone to build it, and then you’ll have to go through their process for designing and developing the site. Finally, there’s the post-launch website management.
All of this is to say that if you really want to build a website that is going to help your business grow, you’re not going to be able to do that in just one weekend. This is going to be a process that takes time. But it will be rewarding in the end.
So let’s take a walk through each of the steps you’ll take on this journey to create a new (or first) website for your business.
Table of contents
- Should you create a new website for your business?
- Do you need to create a new website?
- Planning for your new website
- The cost of a new website
- Different options for creating a new website
- Self developing a website vs. hiring
- Criteria to use to hire a web agency or developer
- Where to find a web agency or developer
- The discovery phase
- What you can do to help
- What to look for in a design
- Getting the content ready for a new website
- What to check for before the new website goes live
- Taking the new website live and post-launch support
- Your next steps to create a new website
Should you create a new website for your business?
If you’re at this step in creating a new website for your business, you’re probably wondering why your business needs a website. After all, you have a Facebook page or an Etsy store, and those are online. So why do you need to make the extra effort to build a website.
And the simple answer is control. You control what the website looks like. You control the content that you place on the website. And you control the messaging. You don’t have to play by the rules others have created.
Beyond that, a website is both your storefront on the digital main street and a place where all of your digital marketing efforts point back to. All of your social media marketing, content marketing, email marketing and online advertising will direct people right to your website where you can sell them products or get them to sign up for a service.
Oh, and you can cut out the middleman and sell products directly to customers online.
Creating a website really isn’t optional in today’s world.
Introduction to Small Business Website Planning
Do you need to create a new website?
Once you realize why a new website is going to be so important for your business, you need to figure out if you actually need a new website.
In some instances this is pretty easy to answer. If you currently don’t have a website, you really need to create one as soon as you can. Getting your business’ name online and getting Google to start indexing your website as quickly as possible is your number one goal.
Likewise, if your website design hasn’t been updated in a few years and looks dated, it might be time to refresh your site. The times of web design have certainly changed quickly over the last few years, and it’s important to stay looking sharp online. It doesn’t have to be super fancy, but make sure it looks like something created this decade.
But at the same time, if you’re happy with the way your website looks, you might not need to shell out the cash for a completely new one. Maybe what you just need is a few small tweaks to your website.
If you want to start blogging or create an online store and you’re already using a content management system, then you might just see if there’s someone out there who can just add those things to your existing site.
So before you do anything else, make sure that you actually need a new website.
Do you need a new website?
Planning for your new website
When you’ve decided that you do need to create a new website, you need to plan it out before you take your next step. After all, the famous, mis-attributed Benjamin Franklin quote is “failing to plan is planning to fail.”
So how do you create this plan? Well, you need to start by asking questions. What do you need this website to do? Where is your business now and where you want it to be in five years? How will this new website help you achieve that? How much can you spend on creating this new website?
From there, you can start to think through this website. You’ll end up knowing what the goal of this website is going to be for your business and have a basic outline for the site.
The better you plan now, the easier it will be to work with the web agency or developer to actually create the website.
Planning for a New Website
The cost of a new website
Next up, you’ll probably want to start to research how much this new website is going to cost you. And to be honest, it’s going to be a pretty good chunk of change to build a custom website.
To be very up front about this, at the basic level I charge around $3,000 for a new custom website. That cost includes time for discovery and planning, design, development, content, review and edits, taking the website live and training on how to use the new website.
And you’re probably going to get quotes around that price or even higher.
Fortunately, there are ways to lower this cost, which we’ll discuss in the next section. But it’s a good idea to figure out your budget for this website and figure out what the website will cost you before you dive even further.
Why Websites Cost What They Do
Different options for creating a new website
Speaking of how to lower the cost of your website, there are a number of options available that can work with basically any budget.
The first is to use a website builder, like Wix and Squarespace. You can get started for roughly $10 a month and start right away. You don’t have to worry about hiring a developer, though you can be boxed in by what those companies allow you to do.
Along those same lines, if you want the ease of a website builder but also want to sell online, Shopify might be worth looking into.
The next step up is to use an open source content management system, like WordPress, Drupal and Joomla. The code for the CMS is free to use, but you will have to pay for web hosting and a domain.
At the same time, you can use themes and plugins/extensions with your selected CMS to quickly and cheaply create a website that looks great.
Finally, we have the custom website design. This is the most expensive option, but you’re going to get everything you want and need with this website.
So take some time to figure out which option you’re going to use to create your new website.
Learn How to Create the Perfect Website for Your Business
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Self developing a website vs. hiring
Next up, if the price of creating a new website has you very concerned, you might be thinking about just doing it yourself.
And in some cases, you might be right. But in other scenarios, it might be a bad idea.
Ultimately, you need to answer this question: will your website and business be better off by you building it yourself or hiring someone to create it?
Self-Development vs. Hiring a Developer
Criteria to use to hire a web agency or developer
If you’ve decided to hire a web agency or developer to create the new website, there are a few things you need to look out for.
First, check out their portfolio to see if you like the previous work that they’ve done. This is pretty basic. Do you think they can create something that works for you? Then check out those websites and see if they are usable and work properly.
Next, check out their experience. Have they worked with a business like yours before? Does it seem like they know what they’re doing?
Finally, see if you can schedule some time to talk with them and get to know them more. Think of it as a two-way interview, as they will also be seeing if you are a good client for them. Make sure that both of you can work together well.
Selecting the right agency or developer can go a long way towards making this a simple and smooth process for you.
What to Look for in a Web Developer (and Where to Find One)
Where to find a web agency or developer
Next up, you’re probably wondering where exactly can you find an agency developer to help you out. And that is a great question.
First off, I would caution you to stay away from places like Upwork and Fiverr. The quality of developers can be a little bit suspect. It’s fine for small things, but for an entire website you might just want to use it as an absolute last resort.
A good starting point is to ask around in your circles for a recommendation. Has a friend recently created a new website? See who they worked with and what their experience is like. Those typically lead to the best results.
Also, Google is a great place to jump in as well. Simply search “web developers near me” or something similar and see what’s out there. Narrow down your search to figure out who’s going to be the best for you.
Create a Professional Website that fits your Budget
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The discovery phase
Once you’ve hired a web agency or developer, they’ll start with what’s called the discovery phase.
This part of the process is where they will ask you questions to learn more about you, your business, what you want and need with this website and more. And they do this so that they can design and build the best website possible for you.
This is where having that plan we talked about earlier comes into play. If you’ve already thought through these questions ahead of time, you’ll know exactly what to say and what you want with this website. And that will make everything run much smoother.
The discovery phase is probably the most important part of the process. If you can get through this step smoothly, everything else will fall right into place.
What is the Discovery Phase?
What you can do to help
Now that you’ve brought in someone to help you with this website, it has become a team game of sorts. You need to work together efficiently to make this all work.
So there are a few things you can do to make sure everything runs smoothly.
First, make sure you have a plan. If you took care of this at the beginning, you should have no issues now. That plan will be your roadmap for all of this.
Second, make sure to be timely and responsive. No agency or developer likes a client who doesn’t respond to emails, or worse invoices. Make sure you’re staying in regular contact with them, and if something comes up that affects your end of the project, let them know as soon as possible.
Finally, make sure you know where the content is coming from and have it ready on time. Typically the content — including photos, videos, all of the body copy — falls on the client to take care of. So make sure you have it ready when you need it to keep things running.
What to look for in a design
The next part of the process is the design phase. For most of this part, there’s not a whole lot that you can do. They’ll be the ones designing the website. And then they’ll come back to you with those designs for your approval.
So here are a few things to look for when you look over the designs that they present.
First, how well does the content fit into the design. Content is the most important part of any webpage. So if the content doesn’t look good with the design, it’s not a good page.
Second, see if the design is functional. If a user can’t use a part of the website, then it’s not a good website even if it looks beautiful. So make everything that needs to be seen is visible and that there won’t be any usability issues.
Finally, do you like the design? This is very subjective (hence why I’ve put it last), but if you don’t like the design, tell them. This is something that you’ll be using for at least a couple of years, so make sure you’re happy with it.
The Design Phase
Getting the content ready for a new website
Technically the next part of building a new website is the development, but there’s not a lot you can do. So we’ll jump to the next step: content.
As I mentioned earlier, content is the most important part of any website, but it’s something that often derails a project. So to counteract that, make sure you have your content ready by the agreed upon deadline.
Make sure you and the agency/developer discuss it during the discovery process. Make sure you all know where the content is coming from and when it needs to be delivered in order to keep things running.
Having all of that set ahead of time will help everyone know who’s responsible for what and keep everyone accountable for the content.
Making Sure the Content is Ready
What to check for before the new website goes live
Once the website has been developed and the content added to the site, it’s almost time to take it live. But there’s one last step here.
You need to review everything to make sure that it’s just right.
First, you need to make sure that everything is readable. Remember, the content is the most important part of the website, so make sure that you can read and understand all of the copy on the site.
Next, make sure that the colors match your business’ branding. This seems like it should be something simple, but sometimes things just get scrambled along the way. So check the colors one last time.
Also, check out the website on mobile. You can do this by viewing it on your phone or simply lowering the width of your browser. That way you can make sure your mobile readers and users have a great experience.
Finally, just make sure the website works. That’s really what this all boils down to. If your website is usable and you like it, then it’s time to take it live.
Taking the Website Live
Taking the new website live and post-launch support
Finally we’ve reached the last step: taking the website live. The developer will take care of this part as long as you provide them with the domain and web hosting information.
But the work still isn’t quite done. You see, now you’ll have to manage and take care of the website. And there are a few things you need to figure out.
First off, if your website is using a CMS, who is going to be responsible for running those updates? You’ll have updates for the core CMS, any plugins/extensions and themes, and you’ll likely need to check for updates once a month.
Next, if something goes wrong, who is going to fix it? Something will break on your website at some point. That’s just a fact of life. So when that happens, who are you going to turn to?
Asking and answering those questions now before the launch will help make managing the website a whole lot easier when you get to that stage.
Post Launch Support
Your next steps to create a new website
So, are you ready to take the next step towards creating a new website for your business? Awesome!
Whether you’re looking for an affordable website that fits within your budget or you want a completely custom website, I can help you make your website dreams a reality. Let’s work together to create a website that will help your business grow online.
How to create a new website