Starting a Website?

WEBSITE DESIGN The website design step involves the most planning. Start with the wrong foot here, and you will find yourself tripping later on. As a client, the most important aspect of website design is good communication. It is important to convey your ideas as clearly as possible to the website designer in order for the project to meet your expectations.

During the website design step it is important that you are able to answer the “goals” questions:

What are the goals of the website?
How does the website achieve those goals?
How are those goals tracked?
How long do you have to accomplish those goals?
Next you’ll want to work on material that will help the designer understand how it is you will accomplish those goals. You may work on the material by yourself or with the designer. In general you will want to start with a description of the project, a sitemap, some wireframes, and few mockups.

Project Description
If your website project is standard your description may be short, but if your project introduces new unique ideas, your description may be long.

Make sure the project description includes a summary at most a paragraph in length.

Sitemap
You will also want to provide a sitemap of the website. This is a list of pages and how they link to each other. If the website is simple you may be able to simply draw the sitemap on a piece of paper, on the other hand, if your website is complex, you may want to use software for generating sitemaps. Common software used for generating sitemaps includes any software for generating flowcharts, like LucidChart.

Wireframes
After working on the sitemaps, you will want to work on some wireframes. A wireframe is a diagram of the layout of the web pages in the sitemap.

Mockups
Add details to your wireframes by adding images and text. A mockup will be a visual representation of the website with minimal functionality. A mockup will resemble the final product very closely.

WEBSITE DEVELOPMENT
After you are done with the website design step, the website designer will have a clear idea of the project and will provide you with an estimated cost and timeline. Now that you translated your thoughts into something the website designer can understand, it is now the job of the website designer to translate this in terms a website developer can understand, and in turn, the website developer will translate the information one more time into something computers can understand.

During the website development step, the website designer will act as the middle-man, if there are any hiccups in the development process, the website designer will let you know. If any steps in the design process need revision, the website designer will work with you to resolve any issues with the design.

WEBSITE PROMOTION
We have arrived at the first and last step. First? Well within the project description is how you plan on achieving the goals, and promotion of the website is most likely part of it. This article is about starting a website and not about starting a business, therefore we will not be tackling the MARKETING MONSTER, but instead one of its legs. We are talking about Website Promotion. When starting a website, you should be planning on how to promote it, but because you do not have a website, you cannot start promoting your website just yet. You must first design it and develop it, and then you are ready to promote it.

The purpose of website promotion is to make it easy for your target audience to find your website. Once you have some visitor’s, they should behave as intended in the design of the website, if they don’t, then you find out why and modify the design. You may be familiar with terms like Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or Search Engine Marketing (SEM). We will leave the details of SEM/SEO for another article, but we will mention that they are part of the every step involved in starting a website.

Website promotion involves two key steps, generating content and promoting the content with links. Modern search engines, like Google, have focused on making it easy for people to find great content. Therefore if you have great content, search engine companies are already doing SEO for you. All you need to do is make sure search engines can find your content, and give it a little promotional push. Another thing you can do is find flaws in the search engines that allow your content to rise to the top by cheating the system, but what are you going to do when the flaw gets fixed? Remember what I mentioned at the beginning of this article. Start with the right foot!

There you have it, starting a website in three steps. Website design is the planning stage. Website development is translation, conversion, and testing stage. Finally website promotion involves attracting visitors by generating compelling content and promoting it with a few links to get the ball rolling. What remains is iteration, meaning repeat the steps and make adjustments as necessary.

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