Before we get into the list of things you must consider before creating a website, please realize that you must commit to testing with live data. It is not practical to stop and make a pit stop with theory. You always need to work with real data, this means you must release the website when there is enough of the site complete. Only at this point will you have significant numbers to make a decision.
Your Major Customer
More than likely you know who your target audience is. I do warn you that if you know who your audience is based on the sample size determined by those that have spoken to you, you probably do not know. Often different groups are more outspoken based on the career they have chosen.
How are your customer reaching you? Are they using a desktop computer or are they mobile users? For a new website this cannot be answered. If this is a website redesign, it helps to know this. And do you need to allow your online business to accept credit cards?
Article vs. Blog Post vs. Use Cases
Will you have articles or blog posts or use cases. Realize that blog posts must be updated regularly. If you are not updating 4 or more times a month, you have articles. You do not alsay need to have an active blog. Articles and use cases could suffice if updated with new material quarterly.
You really have to consider how you will engage with your new customers. Before they are customers they will have questions before the leads turn in to paying customers. Who will engage with them. Answer their questions. As a business owner you must think of this before you start any website design. The entire transaction must be a positive user experience. By design, you are going to have more customers.
Clear Purpose - Before you begin thinking about a website, you need to have a clear purpose in mind for the site. You most have a clear purpose and then an efficacy check to determine if websites can actual achieve what you have in mind.
Domain Name - Your domain can be your companies name, and many will argue that it should be. Reasons to alter this may include choosing a name that is easily communicated.
Prioritize - Build your site methodically. Often it is easiest to allow your main menu to guide you through this task. It does not have to be in any order, however, before adding items to the main menu, ensure that you have the pages needed.
Pick Your Team - Will your website be developed in-house or will you contract an agency to complete the task. Item #1 is a clear factor here. Are you comfortable with the team you choose to achieve your "Clear Purpose". Regardless of your choice, choose the best person internally to manage the process.
Hosting - Research where you will host your site carefully. Changing hosts is not terribly difficult, however, it can be time consuming and a resource hog on staff of every level. When choosing where to host your site, realize hosts generally specialize. Not all hosts have 24/7 technical support or have an extremely technical staff.
Planning for Development - The written part of your website, website content, should be at least 80% complete before you begin. You should also have 80% of the images and the primary images. You should aim for original photos, however some stock photos are acceptable. The images should be extremely clear. You can always lower than clarity, you can seldom improve it after the photo is taken. Also, bad pics distract from your hard labor.
Promote Your Site - Your site has the potential of being the focal point of your business, especially if your are e-commerce or collecting revenue online. You should list the ways to drive traffic. This will include but not limited to:
- SEO (search engine optimization)
- Industry Periodicals/Directories
- Website Lists
- Partners such as adjacent industries
- Every guest speaking event should include your site in intro
Plan Your Project - Plan your project including milestones and dates. This is critical to an on-time delivery. There will always be delays and hurdles, but you have to minimize this as much as possible.
Website Analytics - Collect analytics from the beginning. Analytics include all visitor's actions. If you don't measure it, how can you improve it. You should have plans to quickly implement collecting analytics.
A/B Test - Fine tune your website constantly. Depending on the number of visitors you receive per month, you should identify A/B test winners every month.
Continuous Testing - You must consider quarterly updates to your site. You should also consider fundamental changes to your site between 1 and 5 years.
Decisions with financial impact
- Hosting Provider (The team that does the website development may also provide hosting)
- Website Development (This decision is important, you need criteria for choosing)
- If your web designer does not understand search engines, this will cost you if you need seo
- Brand Identity should not be a second thought, it needs to be determined before work begins
- Will this be a content management system like WordPress. WordPress has 40% market, share, this is about 64 million websites