As a web designer, I come across many new first-time website owners. I often answer the same questions or explain the same things. Visiting a website is very different from owning a website.
So, if you are a new first-time website owner, or have to get a website for your business, then please read along for some useful tips and advice.
1. Spy on the enemy
Get online and look for companies that offer the same products / services as you do in your industry.
Mix it up by visiting relevant local and international websites. The more websites you visit, the better your website will be. Take a few hours to do this.
Visit each website and make a list of the ones that you like by recording the website address (e.g. hetjou.co.za) and the reasons why you liked the site. Keep your own website in mind and note the things you would like on your website.
Examples of things to note while spying on the enemy are:
- Note the layout and colour schemes. The overall feel should match what you want for your site.
- Note what information they seek in their contact forms. You might want more information than just a name and telephone number from your website visitors.
- Which sites provide the best information that matches your products / services. More is better because you can delete what is not needed later on.
- Which sites are the easiest to navigate and find what you are looking for?
- What other elements do you like and want, such as a banner at the top of the page, a shopping cart, gallery with images, videos, something unique, etc.
2. Cut the fat
Grab the list you made in step 1 and concentrate on the things you liked about the websites that you visited.
Make a shortlist of 5 – 10 of your favourite things. Your shortlist should reflect the elements that you would like to see on your own website.
This list will eventually go to your web designer who will visit the links to see the elements that you liked and want.
Until now you have been an internet user and a website visitor. Once you have a website, you have become one of the many other website owners out there who provide information, products and services to the public. Your are now inside, looking out.
Your goal is to predict what website visitors will want from your website. With this in mind, it is time to write content for your website.
Place yourself in a customer’s shoes. Be your own customer. Are they looking for a specific product or information about the product? Are they scouting for prices or service suppliers. Would they prefer to give you a call or send email? Do they want to order and pay for the product right now?
Give the people what they want, and they will come
What is it that you want people to know about your business. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar. Tell a story about your business and what you do. Gather all your product information together with images if relevant. Focus on your strong points, e.g. customer service or warranty. Do you have terms and conditions? When are your operating hours? How can people get hold of you.
More information is better than less. You can always delete the excess stuff later. Your web designer will rework the text to make it work for your website.
Do not ever copy and paste text from another website to use for your website. Search engines like Google will spot it and give you a lower ranking as punishment.
Related: Tips for writing website content
Summary so far
- Compile a list of the elements that you want on your website
- Write content that will please your readers and convey your message
4. Hunting for the best deal
The time has come to hunt down a worthy web designer who will make your website vision a reality.
Look for web designers online. Make a list of the design studios that you want to compare the packages of.
The more elements that are included in the deal, the better. All the listed elements influence the success of your website.
When a package doesn’t clearly state all the elements included, contact the web designer and ask.
If it’s not part of the stated package you will have to pay more later on once you realise that you need it.
Cheaper is not always best. Expensive is not always best. The secret lies in what is offered at which price.
5. Feed your web designer
All the information you have gathered and created should be forwarded to your web designer who will get cracking at designing your website.
The better the information you give your chosen web designer, the better your website will be. A better website means better results and sales.