Stage 1 – Preparation
First of all don’t expect the web design company to do most of the work, you will need to go into your first meeting very prepared.
What will you call your website? You will need to check on line if the name you want is available to buy then decide how many years you will buy it for.
You will need to choose who will host your website for you, choose a reputable company such as blackknight.ie or hosting.ie
Content Management System (CMS)
Will you be updating your own website and managing it or do you want your computer company to do that. So you need to consider what platform that your site will be built on e.g. WordPress.
Do you need your site to be an ecommerce site – that you can sell goods/services on line and if so then you will need to consider the installation of a payment method such as Paypal.
There is a constant threat of hacking, viruses and malware. It is important to hire a web designer that puts the necessary prevention measurements in place and that regular security checks are performed on your site.
Discuss with your designer which plugins you will need on your site for optimum performance
Stage 2 – Designing Your Business Website
Consider your brand and the message you want to portray and align your website to match your branding. So if your salon is more serene your website should match, if you salon is more trendy then again the site should match. Try to aim for no clutter and distraction on your site. Keep your site neat and clean. Colour is an important part to be considered here. Reinforce your branding with the use of your logo and your site will reflect the colours you have chosen for your logo. Remember different colours give different messages so ensure your logo colours match the message you want to deliver.
Consider who your audience are and what they will be looking for on your site, what images will appeal to them? What content will they be looking for?
This is simple a table of contents of what is in your website, but it should be simple so that a user can navigate your website easily to find what they want or for you to lead the viewer to where you want them to go.
Ensure that the loading times of your pages are not too time consuming, there is nothing worse than waiting for a site to load and users usually only give 3 seconds to this process then they move to another site.
Every word that is written for every page of your website will need to be written by you and given to your designer to incorporate in your site. So on each page ensure you have at least 150 words, use words that are relevant to what the user is looking for (keywords), this will also you’re your seo (see below), ensure you highlight the unique selling points of your business, and that you use original content that you created yourself, as google can detect if content has been copied from other websites and penalise this type of behaviour and could lower your site ranking or take your site down.
Pictures & Videos
Ensure all pictures that you use on your site are original or that you bought them from a company such as istock or that they are royalty free. There are very strict copyright and intellectual property laws surrounding the use of stock images
SEO and Google Analytics
SEO (search engine optimisation) is vital for every website, there is a lot to cover on this topic so watch out for my article in the next issue where I will focus more on seo and google analytics.
Every site should have an active blog to keep in touch with your customers.
With 95% of people searching for local services on their mobile devices and 86% of the population in Ireland on smartphones, it is imperative that your website is mobile friendly.. Also your site needs to be programmed to have compatibility with multiple browsers. E.g. Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer
Have you ever clicked on a site and seen a 404 error? This is a broken link and makes your site look very unprofessional, so ensure that any broken links are fixed.
Social Media Links
It must be easy for your viewers to join your social media from your site.
Call to Action
Any good marketer will tell you that once you have offered your information then you should call your audience to action e.g. call us now for more information, click here to book, buy now, click here to avail of this offer etc.
Ensure you incorporate testimonials from previous clients on your site whether in text or a video testimonial
This must be very visible, where your business is, your telephone number, your address and your email address. This is one of the most visited pages on your site. I would also recommend you insert a google map linked to your business in here.
Although the use of sound is good to stimulate emotions consider if someone is looking at your sight and are not in a position to hear sound. Always give the option to agree to sound.