Congratulations. You are ready for a website. Where do you begin? We have prepared a checklist to avoid losing valuable time not to mention money during the development phase where revisions can be costly (see last week's post about website costs).
Here are the top five things you need before developing your website.
1. Pick Your Domain Name
What is a domain? It is your digital address that people will use to connect to your website. The sparqGEN domain is www.sparqgen.com. Where can you find a domain name? We often refer clients to GoDaddy or Hostgator. On these sites you can search the availability of your desired name and as detailed in our last post5 Costs to Know Before Launching Your Small Business Website the cost of a domain typically ranges between $10 and $20 per year. You should be aware that some agencies mark up this cost.
A good name usually has your brand in it and if possible what you do as well (e.g., www.jonesfarm.com). We like brief names as they are easy to type into a browser. Picking the right domain and weighing the pros and cons are part of all of our sparqLOCAL web design packages.
2. Secure A Business Email Address
Once you have a domain then you can have an email linked to that domain. If your domain is xyz.com then your business email would be xyz.com instead of gmail.com or one of the other free services.
We recommend investing in business email for the most professional image. Gmail and outlook are fine for personal use but any serious business has the right email to go with its domain. A business email should cost about $5 per month per user. Having a professional online image is important for both you and your website.
3. Finalize Design Preferences: Color palette, logo, fonts
If you are an existing business then it is likely you have your logo and color palette. If not, you need to stop and think about what sort of image you wish to project through design. Are you modern? All business? Conservative? Frilly? Whimsical? The shape of your logo, the fonts on your site, the colors you use will all convey a certain look and feel that communicates before you even have contact with a potential prospect.
Additionally, design preferences should be decided upon before any development begins as revisions through live development end up being very costly.
4. Choose Your Website Software
Will you want to build your site on Joomla, WordPress or maybe Wix? There are numerous choices for site building. We recommend an open-sourced platform such as WordPress or a design oriented software such as Wix that you can even edit on your own. Do not go with a custom coded site that ties you to an agency who can then charge you exorbitant fees to update the site and make changes to copy and imagery.
An open sourced platform such as WordPress also offers hundreds of templates with some of the coding complete. Your development team is able to take a template and customize the code to your branding and content.
5. Create A Site Map
Before getting into development, you will want a flowchart that illustrates the navigation as well as the pages of your site. Some typical pages:
1. Home page
2. About Us
6. Contact Us
Under those titles, you may see separate pages. These pages may include leadership bios, specific service pages, case studies/work samples and more.
As always, at sparqGEN "we think first." By thinking through the checklist, and gathering the necessary items, you will be able to create a website quickly and efficiently.
Contact us to learn more about how we can help you launch your website. sparqGEN has created dozens of sites for clients large and small and we would love to help you bring your business to the web in a professional and engaging manner.