In Phase One of Building Your Online Business, I described developing a solid plan. A plan takes all of the guesswork out of the equation. Your plan is invaluable because it will describe in detail what you want your website to do. The plan will help the web developer understand what you want the website to do and what goals it must accomplish. The plan does not have to be a lengthy thesis. Just a simple one page description will suffice. Try to be as descriptive a possible.
The plan you choose must include the following phases:
- Planning Your Online Business
- Getting a Website Designed and Developed (you are here)
- Setting up an E-Commerce Shopping Cart
- CRM (Customer Relations Management)
- Getting Your Website Indexed in the Search Engines
- Online Advertising
- Email Marketing
- Start a Blog and/or Forum
- Social Networking
- Go to Step 1
The order of the above phases is only a suggestion. The is order is up to you, but each of them should be implemented.
Phase 2 : Getting a Website Designed and Developed Once you have your plan written, Phase 2 of Building Your Online Business is to have your website designed and developed. A great design is extremely important to your online business. In the online world, it is even more true that first impressions are everything. A websites design is not just about pretty pictures and colors. Your website is the perfect marketing resource that will keep your current and future customers informed. It should contain all of your company’s information, brochures and other materials. Are you going sale your products through your website? All of these things must be considered in your design.
If you choose you can of course do the design and development yourself. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. If you have the skill to do this, by all means, do it. That is up to you.
However, there is also something to be said about having a professional web developer build the website for you. To avoid confusion, in this article I talk about website designers and developers inclusively as “web developers”. Since we are designing a website, the professional must be able to do design first and foremost. Development, or programming, is usually a secondary skill. Your website might not require any “functionality”, or interactive parts of your website such a contact form or booking application, for example.
Question: What are the advantages of hiring a web developer to do the website design and development for me?
There are numerous advantages to hiring a web developer. Some of those advantages might be:
- Freeing up your time so that you can run your business.
- Putting their professional experience to work for you.
- Receiving professional opinions and creative ideas.
- Getting your website completed faster.
- Your website will require less maintenance.
- Greater compatibility with all of the major web browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc.).
- Achieve Search Engine friendliness.
Remember that web developers are professionals. Rely on them for their experience and knowledge. For example, while you could fix your clogged sink yourself, wouldn’t it be better to hire a professional plumber? The same goes for any other service you might need.
Question: How do you pick a professional web developer?
Finding and hiring a professional web developer is perhaps the greatest hurdle to overcome when creating your website. There are literally thousands and thousands of designers and developers available to choose from on the internet. Here are some suggestions to make the search easier.
Start the search for your web developer of choice by looking in the your local area. The yellow pages might not be the best place to look. Because the primary domain of a web developer is the internet use a search engine such as Google (www.google.com). Type in a search query such as “website design in<your here=”” state=”” and=”” city=””>”</your>If nothing turns up in the search results, look at websites for other companies in your local area. Ask those companies who they recommend.
Use Online Services
There are many websites on the internet that will help you find a professional web developer. The ones that I recommend are Elance, Guru and Design Quote. You might also try job search websites such as Dice, Monster and Career Builder.
Ask for a Portfolio and Client Testimonials
Once you have located one or more web developers ask them for their professional portfolios and some of their client testimonials. Visual representation of their skills is a must. Client feedback and references will further prove that the web developer can do the work you need. If you are still not convinced, ask the web developer for a free mockup, or design draft, of your website idea.
Question: What is the typical website development process?
After you have hired your web developer, typically the website development process goes something like this:
- Website design mockup(s) is done via a graphics program such as Adobe Photoshop
- Review of design mockup(s)
- Feedback of the design and further design work if needed
- Convert design into website template
- Use website template to make content pages
- Content is filled in using the information that you provide
- Search engine keywords are chosen and content modified for search engine friendliness
- Meta tags are written and inserted into your pages
- Domain name is setup on your website hosting account
- Email accounts are setup
- Website is uploaded to your website hosting account
- Domain name is manually submitted to the major search engines (Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc.)
- Continue to add content and improve the website as needed
The above process is by no means set in stone. Every website is different and the process can vary greatly. The saying goes that “A website is never done.” Your website will be a living extension of your business and it should be changed and improved upon. Remember to inform your website visitors of new and exciting things that are going on at your company.