6 Key Factors to Consider Before Starting a Custom Web Design Project
Your website is going to represent you and your business. Design, speed, and functionality are crucial elements that can make or break your brand's digital presence. Building a website can be overwhelming, and unfortunately, there's no one-size-fits-all approach that could consider every possible scenario. Still, we have outlined six key factors your business should consider, no matter your industry.
The Sitemap - Every Great Website Starts With A Plan
You don't need to be a web designer to come up with a sitemap.
First, identify the pages your business needs by doing some research on your industry. If you don't know what pages to include or quickly find yourself overwhelmed, check out the competition. Figure out what your competitors are doing well and where they fall short. Ask yourself, what do my customers want to know about my business?
A sitemap doesn't have to be complicated or built with fancy online tools. You can get started with pen and paper. All you need is to make sure your wireframe has structure. Check out the example below to see what structure and hierarchy look like on a wireframe. Bonus points if you can outline the type of features you want to include on each page.
• Newsletter Signup
• Chat Functionality
• Detailed Landing Page for Service 1
• Detailed Landing Page for Service 2
• Newsletter Signup
• Blog Comments
• Article Link Sharing Capabilities Via Social Media
• Contact Form
Your Content - Prioritizing Key Business Information
Keep your content simple and cater your message to your ideal client. Use "we," "us," and "our" when talking about your business and "you" when speaking to your readers. Write casually, and don't be afraid to use your own voice. Remember, the goal of your content isn't just to convert. Your content can help you build rapport, provide value, strengthen your credibility. In general, the top 3 most important things you need to prioritize on your website are:
- Your value proposition - your clients are looking to answer this question immediately: "What's in it for me?" If they cannot answer this question within seconds of landing on your website, they will leave. Your value proposition should be the first thing anyone sees when they land on your website.
- A clear call to action (CTA) - your clients want to know how to purchase your products and services. Make sure buying is easy by including a CTA on your web pages. CTAs come in many shapes and forms. Usually, CTAs come in the form of a button that reads "buy now, get in touch, learn more, or contact us." Again, make it clear what the next step or steps are to ensure your prospects continue flowing through your pipeline.
- A way to get in touch - Website users may not find the answers to their questions or problems on your website. Make sure you have an easy way for users to get in touch with you. A contact page that outlines all the ways a user can communicate with you is critical. Include some or all of the following - a form, email address, phone number, social media handles, or even a built-in chat feature.
The CMS - Selecting The Best Platform for your Web Design Project
A Content Management System (CMS) is a program that makes it easy to manage your content. WordPress is a CMS. In WordPress, you can easily add or update content on a website using an interface similar to Microsoft Word.
Whether you've been operating a website CMS for a while or are ready to try a new one, there are many important factors to consider before fully committing to a CMS.
WordPress is a popular content management system because it offers relative ease of use, flexible design options, and a plugin-rich ecosystem that contains just about all the functionality you would want or need for your website. WordPress also powers about 30% of all websites in existence which is a true testament to just how powerful and robust the platform is.
There are other website CMS platforms out there like Webflow, Squarespace, and Shopify. I love these web design platforms because they offer better, more intuitive experiences than WordPress out of the box; however, with these and other similar platforms, you don't own the codebase. Sure, you own your content. You can copy and paste it anywhere; however, you don't own the CMS. You can't take a Squarespace website and host it on Bluehost. With WordPress, you can pick up your website, take it with you, and host it wherever you want.
Bottom line: Every business is unique and has unique problems that they need to solve. Take time to experience a couple of content management systems and choose a Website CMS that will help you accomplish your business goals.
We recommend working with a professional web designer to ensure that your CMS can handle your demands as a growing business. Do some research ahead of time and be ready to articulate what you need.
Domains & Hosting - Picking The Right Domain Name and The Best Hosting
A domain name is the address of your website. Businesses usually use their name or a version of it as the domain name for their website if it is available. If it's not, here are your options:
- Offer to buy the domain name from its current owner. In the best-case scenario, you get the domain name you want. Worst-case scenario, it's not for sale, or the price may be out of reach. Sometimes procuring a domain is difficult, mainly if the domain contains keywords considered premium. For example, sapphires.co is currently for sale at a whopping $14,888 as of writing this article.
- Consider a different domain extension or TLD. When a domain is not available or out of reach, it's usually the .com version. Acceptable alternatives to a .com TLD are:
- .org - a TLD mainly associated with non-profit organizations.
- .co - a TLD primarily associated with the abbreviation for the term company or corporation.
- .io - a TLD associated with tech startups or software-related businesses.
- .net - a TLD generally reserved for networking websites
Add a noun or a verb to your domain. Treehouse wasn't able to acquire treehouse.com because another business uses that domain. Treehouse opted for teamtreehouse.com instead. Same deal with Pocket. Pocket uses getpocket.com. It may not be the domain your business wants; however, you get to use your brand name in the domain, and you don't have to consider a different TLD.
A web host is a service that holds all of the information for a website on a server. At Xaicode, we only recommend one host for new web design projects built on WordPress: Cloudways.
Cloudways is a managed WordPress hosting platform that connects you with top infrastructure-as-a-service companies like AWS, Google Cloud, and Digital Ocean on one simple, easy-to-use platform.
A new website won't likely require a lot of server power. You'll probably be able to get by with the smallest hosting package Cloudways has to offer. Check out all of the features Cloudways has to offer by visiting their website.
Mobile Web Design - Taking A Mobile-First Approach
With the abundance of mobile devices accessing the internet, making sure your website is compatible with mobile phones and tablets is essential. Mobile website traffic outranks desktop traffic by a whopping 54.8%, cementing the need for every website to be mobile-friendly now and in the future.
While desktop was the primary focus for web design in years past, the paradigm has shifted and focuses on universal access for any device. Ensure that your website is mobile responsive. Most well-known WordPress themes have mobile responsive features that accommodate any screen size and aspect ratio.
Displaying all website elements clearly and creating a consistent experience for your visitors will improve your website's accessibility, and your users will thank you for it. When a user isn't impeded by lousy web design, they can engage with your content longer and consider making a faster buying decision.
Website Security - How to Protect Yourself and Your Users
Once you have your website up and running, you will want to make sure you close as many gaps in your security as possible.
Use Strong Passwords
Have a hard time remembering strong passwords? Use a password manager.
Keep Your WordPress Core Version Updated
WordPress consistently publishes updates that address security vulnerabilities identified by the community.
Keep Your Plugins and Themes Updated
The biggest mistake you can make after launching your new web design project is neglecting to update your website's themes and plugins.
Use a WordPress Security Plugin.
The best WordPress security plugin to protect your website today is WordFence.
Install SSL Certificate
Keep data between your user and your server encrypted using an SSL. Talk to your hosting provider to get help on implementing an SSL certificate for your website.
Web Design Focused on Evolving Your Business
At Xaicode, web design and marketing tactics go hand in hand. We believe the most effective websites are the ones that serve as powerful marketing tools.
I'm based out of Reno and have a delocalized team of web experts ready to help you level up your online presence, whether you're a seasoned professional or just starting out. Websites shouldn’t be complicated and they shouldn’t break the bank. Websites should be about understanding your business, goals, and customers first.
Our clients love us not only because we deliver quality work on time but because we also take pride in listening carefully and understanding their goals. So if you're looking to work with a web design agency that takes a business-first approach to your web design needs, we invite you to start a project with Xaicode.
Get in touch with us today to see how we can help.