Ultimate Checklist for Building Your Website
Thinking about giving your website a makeover? It’s helpful to get a handle on some of the prep work for building your website, even if you haven’t found a web designer yet. After going through the ultimate checklist below, you’ll be able to hand your web designer lot of what they need making the web design process a much smoother one.
Understand Your Goals:
What is it that you want your website to do for you or your company? For most, it means getting more sales, or more leads. That assumption alone is rather ambiguous to a digital strategy, because the obvious follow up question is, “How is that accomplished?”
Be Specific in what you want to achieve. Here are a list of possible outcomes to get you started with your website:
- Build an email list
- Reduce my bounce rate
- Get more people to call me
- Provide more/better resources
- increase keyword rankings
The options can be both technical and non-technical in nature. But the outcome is always to increase your leads and ultimately your sales. With specific goals in mind a strategy can be put in place that will put you on track to reach those website goals.
Action Step: Start a document and right down specific things you would like your website to accomplish. While it may only be one or two items, it’s a place to start, and can be built on.
Know Your Target Market:
Also referred to as a ‘visitor persona’, understanding your target audience is key to a winning website. The better you understand your customers, the more effective you can be at marketing to them.
What information should you look for? While many suggest diving deep into persona’s including age range, where they work, likes, dislikes, values, fears, and anything else you can think of. For the purpose of this exercise, we’ll keep it simple, and write down the problems your potential customers have.
Here’s an example: As a Web Designer, I might say the problems of my perspective clients is, “They need a website”. The reality is they need more leads, they need to better present their brand, They need more people signing up to their list, and a whole host of other things. The more you know about your target market, the more you’ll be able to uncover the potential problems they face.
In life, I find we are often searching for solutions before gaining clarity on the problem.
Action Step: Create a list of potential problems your customers face.
What Solutions do You Provide?
The more fully the problem is understood, the solution often reveals itself. McDonald’s doesn’t just make hamburgers, they are in the Real Estate business. Understanding the solutions we provide to our customers gives us a whole new perspective on our branding, and how we deliver our products and services.
For example, people typically don’t like buying gas for their car. It’s expensive, they can’t see it, taste it (nor would you want to), or even appreciate it. People buy gas because what they are really buying is the right to continue driving their car. Another well-used example is the Drill: A person goes to the hardware store to buy a drill because they need a hole in the wall.Harley Davidson doesn’t sell motorcycles, they sell freedom to middle-aged men.
It can take some time and thought to determine the solutions you provide. Here are a few things that can help you discover them:
- Ask your customers what how they use your products or services
- Ask your friends and family
- Ask your customers what impact your products and services had on their lives.
Action Steps: Write down the products or services you provide and the solutions to the problems listed above.
Create a Sitemap:
A sitemap is simply a list of pages on your website. To help you get you started, here’s a typical list of pages for a website:
In addition to the above, most rename the services tab to be more specific to target their audience. A public speaker might rename the services page to ‘Speaking’. The concept is to create a page for each service you provide, using it as a landing page – A page containing content specific to a given topic only.
When creating your sitemap, a consideration to be made is whether or not to include a blog. While it’s typically on virtually every website these days, I’ve had many clients where a blog was started with a couple of posts and ended there. Do you intend on adding new content to your site, or having someone do it for you? If your intention is not to occasionally write an article on your site, then I would suggest leaving it out. It can always be added later if so desired.
Action Steps: Write down a list of pages you would like on your website.
Gather High-Quality Photos:
Esthetics plays a big part in conversion. Think of a restaurant you visited that less than clean, or hasn’t been renovated in a long time. While the services may be good, it’s not a place you would’ve gone to unless someone told you, “You HAVE to go there”.
A website is no different. People will spend more time on an aesthetically pleasing website that’s easy to navigate compared to one that looks 10 years old, harsh colors, and misaligned elements. Photos play a huge role in this process.
I’ve written a great article here about how to choose and take the right photos for your website. While you may have some images on hand, I recommend working with a professional photographer to get the best quality. In addition to taking some great photos, they will edit them so they really stand out making your website look fantastic.
Action Steps: Take stock of the photos you currently have, and decide what images you would like to use for your website.
Building a new website can be a daunting task, The most important thing to remember is that the person building your website should be walking you through the process in detail, taking the time to explain and help you through the items mentioned above.