However you feel about the digital revolution, one thing’s for sure: every business needs a website.
Not only do customers expect you to have an online presence, your website is an invaluable tool for communicating who you are and what you do. It’s where you can showcase your best work and encourage prospects to contact you. But how do you go about it?
To help, we’ve boiled the process down to four simple steps, so you know everything that goes into a great website!
Step 1: Plan it
Everything needs to start with a plan, and at this stage, you’ll begin with thought plans, followed by physical plans.
Think it out
What do you want your website to achieve? What makes your business different from others? What are your core values? What do you want your audience to know? Do you even know who your audience is?
These are just a few of the questions you need to consider to start your website rolling in the right direction. You can do this alone, but you might find it easier to sit down with others who know your business best, or even an agency like Garda who can help bring those answers out.
Draw it out
Once you have all your key information teased out, it’s now time to put it together.
You need to think about the hierarchy of information as users will find it on your website. Where will they land? Which other pages will you need? Where will all the information go? How will users get there?
Once you’ve thought this through, you can begin to pull together a site map which includes all your pages, where they’ll sit, and what they’ll feature.
Think about your user journey, too – a vital part of any great website. After all, there’s nothing that makes readers click away quicker than an illogical site with no clear route to the information they’re after!
At Garda, we also help our clients begin to see the workings of their websites with clickable wireframes, offering a great insight into how the website will sit and flow once it’s on the screen.
Step 2: Design it
Once the plan is in place, it’s time for the fun bit – the design! If you’re building your own website, the chances are you’re using one of the many platforms out there that offer a range of templates to populate with your own content and imagery.
That’s perfectly fine, and we understand why many businesses choose the DIY option. However, a word of warning: make sure that anything you’re doing complements your overall branding and your other marketing materials to avoid giving your customers mixed messages. This can be a challenge depending on how prescriptive each template is.
The other option is to have your website designed professionally, ensuring it’s completely bespoke to your business. At Garda, we take the design phase seriously, producing a range of initial concepts for our clients. We’ll then refine those designs following feedback, making sure every element suits our clients to a tee.
Step 3: Build it and host it
It’s finally time to start building your website – and luckily, if you’re working alongside an agency like us, it’s time to sit back and concentrate on something else for a while!
At this stage, the web designers and web developers will work closely side-by-side to turn your plans into an actual website – something that not only looks fantastic, but entices users in and nudges them towards all the important information you want them to know.
It’s not just enough to build the website though; you also need to host it. For those who aren’t in the know, hosting is the process of putting your website on the Internet so that it can actually be found and read by users. There’s a huge range of hosting options out there, with the option to have your website hosted either in this country or abroad. At Garda, we offer UK-based Linux hosting – a reliable option which proves hugely popular with our clients.
Step 4: Train and support
If you’re having your website built for you by an agency, it’s really important you know how to use it. Some agencies refuse to give their secrets away, and then charge their clients a fortune every time they want something changed!
We don’t do things that way at Garda. Instead, we offer you the opportunity to learn how to update and manage your website yourself – if you want to, of course! We’ll also be there to provide you and your team with ongoing support further down the line.
If you need a new website – whether it’s your first or a long-overdue update – why not get in touch with us first? We’d be delighted to take you through every step, and promise to give you the online presence you deserve.