Maybe your current website is out of date, you can’t access it to amend it, or it is simply not fit for purpose, and you need to start again.
Before we start looking at a new website, let’s briefly discuss the different parts required to get a website online. This will help you understand what costs are involved, so hopefully there are no surprises.
One of the first things you will need is a domain name. This is the address of your website online. Sounds simple enough but here are a few pointers.
If you can, make sure you register the domain name yourself or in your company name. Don’t leave this to your website designers – we have heard horror stories of them renting you the domain name. You need to make sure you own it, as this will be one of the most important assets in your business. We recommend you use a service such as www.123-reg.co.uk to register your domain name.
Once you have your name, you need hosting. Hosting allows you to run a website by creating a space where you upload all the relevant files and pages for your website. i.e. a filing cabinet. Your hosting doesn’t have to be in the same place as your domain name. Once you have hosting in place, you need to tell your domain name where the files are that relate to the site. This is achieved by pointing your domain name to your hosting. You don’t need to do this yourself, but it helps to understand the process.
This process in itself can take 24/48 hours or even longer to action.
Once you have those bits sorted, you can look at the site design. This is the part you need a web designer for. They will suggest the best way to build your site. Some like us will recommend WordPress. Others might suggest Drupal, Joomla, or Umbraco. These are simply Content Management Systems (CMS) that allow them to build you a site quickly that you can then manage ongoing.
From your point of view, you want something that is on brand, but also functional. You need to ensure the site will work and have the right calls to action in place – after all the site’s main purpose should be to generate enquiries.
Now you have a design approved, you need to consider content. Content is usually left to the last minute, and shoehorned in, but you need to understand the different types of content you will be using on your site. Will you just be using text? What about Video or Audio? In this day and age, a website can be a lot more interactive and have a lot more engaging content. But it needs to be factored in.
Even with text content, you will need site pages, maybe a news section, knowledgebase, FAQs, detailed guides. And this can all look different to your current template designs so make sure you have your initial content requirements planned out at the same time as your site design.
What do you need your website to do? Do you simply need leads from your website? If so, you will need lead capture processes. Do you want to run a full quote and buy system? Do you want to use someone else’s quote and buy system?
Functionality, from our experience, is the thing that:
Make sure you scope out exactly what you want the site to do and make sure your web designer is up to doing what you need them to. Some designers can design, but they might need a developer to get involved to deliver functionality.
Don’t simply gloss over this bit. This is where the headaches start. Ensure you have all the info to hand to discuss with your web designers. It will save problems later on.
As you can see, having a new website is not simply a case of finding someone to design and build it. It is about making sure you understand what you need before you even start the process. The work put in ahead of time will save you time, effort – and probably money – in the long run.
As this is just the website – getting this part done is not all you need to do. Now you need to market the site, and this will need further budget on a monthly basis to drive traffic and enquiries. Simply having the website built is not enough. Again, this can come as a shock as lots of web designers will say the site is SEO and Google friendly. But this doesn’t mean it will rank out of the box. Being mobile-friendly doesn’t mean it will rank on mobile devices – it all simply means, if you then put the marketing effort in you will have a better chance of ranking and driving traffic.
It isn’t your marketing campaign or ongoing method of attracting traffic. It is your foundation, but that’s it.
Jason Hulott is Business Development Director at Digital Marketing Specialists, Speedie Consultants. He is Google Partner certified. His role is to identify and implement traffic generating and revenue increasing ideas for our client base.