Most of us, marketers, either has been involved or will be in the future, in the process of creating a website. There is no escape from it since websites and apps has became the main communication channel for most of the brands. However, working in agencies I noticed that most marketers know very little over the process of creating a website.
No matter if you plan to create a website project managing it yourself or you plan to outsource it to the creative agency, understanding the process is crucial for creating a website that will serve its purpose and that will have the proper return on investment.
Let’s go through the most important phases of a website creation process…
- Determine the goal of your websiteThe first and most important thing is to determine the goal of your website. A website almost always has more than one goal and serves different purposes. Nevertheless it is important to choose one, most important goal for you website, that will determine the whole process. The goal of a website it could be get users to buy something, get user to sign up, gain new leads, increase awareness of a product or service, or it could be to position your brand as a leader in a given field.
- Define the audience
Likewise for any communication channel, you need to define the final audience for your website. The audience will determine the content, design and architecture of our website.
- Define the scope and make infrastructure decisions
Decide what functionalities would you need to have on your website. Some questions that will help you make the list of functionalities are below. At this time it is also worth to start thinking about the domain for you website (the domain is the text after www. and it includes both the name and the ending .com, .net, .org and so on). If you are building the main website for your company, as a domain you would probably choose your company’s name. If you are building a campaign, product or service page it it worth to look for a product or service specific domain. Now or later on you should also make a decision on a hosting server.
Questions to help you decide which website functionalities are you going to need:Would you like to sell products online? If yes, then you need an e-commerce module.Would you like users to sign up for something (e.g. for an event or for a trial period of your service)? If yes, then you would need a sign-up module.
Would you like to show your expertise or gain new leads? Think about having a blog module.
Would you like to be able to update the content of your website without the help of developer? Ask for CMS module.
- Branstorm and map your website
Before creating a website it is worth to brainstorm within a multidisciplinary team of your company’s employees. Present to members of a team what is the goal of a website and what is the characteristic of the audience. The team may help you further specify the audience for your website. Then try within the team to sketch all the possible paths that users will take to reach the ultimate goal of the website. Take into account that users may enter your website not only through the main page. There are many great online tools to help you sketch the users paths. After this brainstorm meeting you should be able to create a map of your website. Mapping your website means basically creating a tree illustrating all subpages of you website and the connections between them.If you are creating your website with the help of a creative agency, this step will likely be lead by the agency side. However, you should be closely involved in the process as you are the one that knows best your audience and your business.
- Create content & wireframes
Now as you have your website mapped it’s time to create the content and wireframes for your website. Wireframes are the visual representation of where each piece of content will be situated within the webpage. It is important to work on those two steps, content and wireframes, simultaneously as the place where the content will be positioned will determine the length of your text.Creating a wireframes requires some practice and special knowledge It will be likely done by web designer or user experience designer. If you would like to take a look into how wireframes are created and even practice yourself, check online tools for creating wireframes, that your agency or freelancers will probably be using.
- Mobile Version
Take decisions related to the mobile version of you website. Is it possible to present all the content that you’ve created in an optimal way on mobile devices? If not try to cut down the content of your website leaving only the most crucial parts of it. It might be also worth restructuring your website for mobile needs. Bear in mind that people act differently when on mobile devices: they need concise information fast, the buying process must be as easy as possible, contact information needs to be easily found.
Finally here we come. After all those steps you are ready to start designing your website. With website’s map, wireframes, content and audience description designer will be able to do his part in a best way possible. In order for the final work to better suite your expectations, feel free to share with the designer links to websites that you feel would speak to your audience. The designer is also the one that should propose what kind of animations will happen on the website. Ask him to provide you with the animated prototype of your website.
Once you are happy with the look and feel of your website it’s time to bring life into it. Designer should deliver design files to the developer. If there are any animations planned on the website, the animated prototype will serve as a guidance for developer.
- Going live!
First you website will be deployed on so called test instance where you will be able to see its final version is safe environment (where no one apart from you and the developer/agency can access it). You will have a change to verify if everything is implemented as planned. At this point any assets and documents created during the previous phases will be handy. Take a look at the website structure, wireframes, designs and prototype and compare them with the final outcome – your website. If you want your website to be ranked high in search engines make sure you define meta description and title and check how fast does your website load (you can check the loading speed of your website using Google PageSpeed Insights tool).Well those are the most important bits and pieces of the website creation process. One thing to remember in order to make the process neat and within the budget is to ask your freelancers or the agency to show you the results frequently at each phase of the process. The key is to work closely together and verify the outcomes at each stage to be able to react quickly when things go in the wrong direction. If things go in the wrong direction, the sooner you react the less money it will cost you.