Creating a Website
Let the Planning Begin!
Congratulations! you’ve decided that it’s time to create a web presence for your business, but what steps do you need to take to make your dreams become reality? Unfortunately, there is not a one size fits all approach as each website is as unique as a person’s finger print. Websites can be both easy and tricky to develop, depending on your individualised requirements. At My Digital Business, we strive to help you through this maze to ensure that what you require will meet your needs now as well as being able to grow with you in the future.
Search for your new domain here.
How to use the search.
Type in your preferred domain without the HTTP or WWW. eg: mydigitalbusiness.com.au and click check.
Your domain name should exactly match your company name
If your business is called “The Delicious Cake Company” you should register the new domain name of deliciouscakecompany.com.au. This will guarantee your site is found when a search for your company name is made, or if they are “guessing” your domain name this is what they would type. Please note if your business name has the word “The” at the beginning you should drop it for your domain. Google considers “the” a stop word. Learn more about stop words here.
Keywords in domain names
An alternative to registering a domain that matches your company name is to register an address that contains keywords that people are likely to search for.
Search engines give high weighting to domain names containing keywords. Your web developer can help you with your keywords if necessary.
Should I go a .com.au or .com?
If you do business solely in Australia, then a .com.au is preferred. This is given preference by search engines when looking for Australian sites and makes it obvious to a potential customer that you have an Australian focus. Dot com dot au’s are more expensive to register but are for the exclusive use of Australian businesses only.
My domain name is not available!
If you are an established company which has been trading for years, and someone else has registered a domain that exactly matches your company name, you might be able to take ownership of the registration through an arbitration process. Sometimes, you may have no choice but to register a different domain.
Avoid hyphens in domain names
Having hyphens in domain names leads to confusion. Visitors may leave the hyphens out and end up on a competitor’s website. They are also difficult to convey when someone recommends a website verbally, and finally they are quite simply a pain for people to remember and type in!
Please note that this list is not exhaustive and care should be taken when selecting a domain name. If you register a domain with a spelling mistake you get to keep that spelling mistake for the domain’s validity.
Before you produce the copy or content for your new website you’ll need to work out what your site needs to contain and how you want it to look. A great idea is to draw what you would like your site’s pages to look like. You don’t need to be a Michangelo, as long as you have the fundamentals of what you would like it to be. This will ensure that your web developer has the same idea as you do, and as a bonus will also cut down on design time as the initial design draft has already been completed.
Think about what are you trying to achieve from your website.
With many businesses, this can be extremely vague: “We think we probably need a website.”, or “We need it to look better than our existing site”. Whilst these may be true, having a defined reason for wanting a new website will help you in the long run through the pre design stage as you’ll have an outcome that you want to reach.
Take a step back and look at it from an external viewpoint and ask yourself “Who is my target audience?” “What might people want to find out about my business?” and “What can my business offer our future clients?”
Now you know what you are trying to achieve from your website, what content types will help you achieve it? Content can be broken down into 7 key types, each type will need careful consideration as each type is as powerful as the other. Consider the following.
- Will you be writing the conent / copy it or will you engage the services of a copywriter?
- Do you have copyright permissions to use the images? If so can you show proof?
- Do you have copyright permissions to use the audio? Do you need a licence? Is it in the correct file format?
- Do you want to use YouTube or Vimeo? do you need to include an acknowledgement? (the answer is yes by the way!)
- What type of download is best for purpose? Is it a Static Form.? or an Interactive PDF?
- Do you own the application or do they belong to a third party? If so do you have the correct licence agreement in place
- Contact information
- This is the most crucial for your online survival. Are my contact details up to date?
Sketch out a site map, showing the site hierarchy (categories and sub-categories) and what each page will contain. Pay special attention to the homepage, what information should you want to give prominence to? If you are unsure your web developer should be able to help you.
Research has shown that Internet users make up their minds about the quality of a website in the blink of an eye. End users, your potential customers / clients will look at your website as an extension of you and your business. Therefore, your site needs its content to be concise and its visual elements to be complimentary as well as attention grabbing.
Immediate, clear and engaging
Your website should provide an immediate, clear and engaging design that is mobile responsive to ensure your site visitors stay around, and ultimately do business with you. At My Digital Business, we have invested a lot of our time in selecting our preferred themes and plug ins that are both extremely efficient and visually pleasing in their design.
Does your brand have a colour scheme or “mood”; a mission statement that the site must convey? Perhaps you have a Style Guide you can give to your designer?
Remember, design isn’t just about pretty pictures and a fun font. It covers navigation, information layout and hierarchy, copy-writing and the tone of your voice… just to name a few. A good question to ask at this stage is: ‘what do I want the initial impression to be?’
Other websites you like
Look at other sites that you like. Try to explain what it is you like about them. Is it the typography (font), the colour scheme, the photography, the overall look and feel?
If your business has a Style Guide this should form the basis of your site’s design elements namely colour and typography. If you don’t have a Style Guide you’ll need to be as specific as possible when selecting a colour. Web Designers use what they call Hex Codes when referring to a colour, this a is a 6 alphanumeric combination that defines a colour for example #FFFFFF is white, the blue background that this section is on is #51A6DC. Web Designers will also have access to Pantone Colour Guides to help their clients in selecting a complimentary colour scheme.
Scalability, accessibility and integration
- Is there room to add another menu item at some point in the future?
- Will your design cause issues with the site’s accessibility?
- Is your design suitable for integration with a content management system, or other back-end functionality?
- Can your site support additional plugins that link with your accounting software, for example, Little Hotelier and Xero?
Never sacrifice ease-of-use for “wow factor, bells and whistles, jazzed up”. These are phrases that web designers often hear from their clients. Websites can be made to look engaging and exciting but ease-of-use must be the priority. The two concepts can exist side-by-side through smart web site development.
Preparing the Content
Visitors rarely read web pages word by word; instead, they scan the page, picking out individual words and sentences. Research by the Nielsen Norman Group found that 79% of our users always scanned any new page they came across; only 16% read word-by-word.
As a result, web pages must employ scannable text, this can be achieved by using:
- Highlighted important keywords (take care not to make them look like hyperlinks though)
- Meaningful sub-headings (not “clever” ones)
- Bulleted lists
- Short paragraphs
- Put important information at the top of the page
- Half the word count (or less) than conventional writing
The same research also found that credibility is important for website visitors. This can be increased by writing in plain English, avoiding “marketing speak” and including high quality graphics.
These days, “everyone is a photographer”, but it shows. There is no substitute for high quality images. Consider employing a professional photographer to really make the images “pop”. Or, alternatively if you are just after a “stock” photo there are many image resellers available on line.
It’s also a great idea to ensure that you have the rights to use any image that appears on your website, if you have taken an image from Google, 99.9% sure that it will be copyright protected.
If your budget cannot allow for a photographer or a stock image subscription, a great place to start is look for “Creative Commons” images, these are free to use and usually have no copyright on them you will find the selection is extremely limited.
A professionally produced video can be used for product demonstrations or selling a service as an example. There are video resellers online who are subscription based, again these are stock videos and may not be exactly what you’re looking for.
Adding sounds or effects to your website may seem like a great idea but it’s not. If you have a video with sound that is acceptable. However, ensure that you have the required permissions to use the audio file. Adding your favourite Top 40 song over a time lapse is not a good idea. Again there are audio resellers available online which are subscription based, and provide you with the necessary copyright permissions.
Consider embedding applications in your website that can really add value. For example, a financial services website could include interest repayment calculators.
Where Are We?
PO Box 2365
Cairns Q 4870