Website design has been a growing career for years, and continues to be an in-demand position. Sure, anyone can create a website, but the art and science of website design goes a bit deeper to create great websites that drive business. The process, however, is a little bit cloudy in most people’s minds. Here is a simple six step process for building a great site.
Step 1: Concept and Planning
The very first step to creating a website is the concept and planning. You have to decide what the site is about, why you are creating it, and who it will primarily be for. This is much like the process of any marketing materials — gather information about your target market, topic, and angle before you commit to anything. Planning your site is probably the most important step, so do not skip it and do not take it lightly!
Step 2: Keyword Research
Once you have a general idea of what your site will cover and who it will connect with, you will need to find out how your audience searches for the information you are going to offer.
During the keyword research process, you will learn what words and phrases people are actually typing into the search engines that could be taking them to your website. You will also learn which words and phrases to avoid due to too much competition.
Step 3: Content Creation
After you have built a healthy list of keywords, you can begin to plan the content for your site. You will want to have some “pillar” content that is extremely helpful to visitors, as well as some smaller chunks of information — all laid out in ways that are easy and natural to find or navigate to. At this point, you may also want to plan out the next 3 — 4 months worth of blog posts.
Step 4: Design
Now that you’ve gotten a solid foundation for your site and content ready to go, you will need a great design to lay it all out. Often, this process is best done by a professional so that your content is easy to find, easy to read, and promotes action from your visitors. Nothing kills great content like a horrible design.
Step 5: Building
Many times, the same person who completed the web design process can also build the site for you. You always want to be sure to ask, but with the introduction of Web 2.0, designing and creating websites with the same person has become much easier.
Step 6: SEO
Step 2 introduced you to the basis of SEO, but this is actually an element in web design that needs to be present throughout the entire design process. SEO allows you to optimize your site, each page, and even all of the media on those pages to get you the highest ranking possible in the search engines. With constant changes in the SEO “rules”, this is best done by a professional to keep your site in compliance and get you the best results.
Special note about eCommerce sites:
An eCommerce site is one which exists to sell items online — also called an online store. Unfortunately, many site owners seem to believe that the regular rules of website design do not apply to eCommerce sites, but this is not at all the case.
If anything, an eCommerce site relies even more heavily on great design and excellent SEO processes. Going to a site to buy shoes and not being able to find what you are looking for quickly is almost certain to send you off somewhere else — so don’t let your site be that way to others!
Web 2.0 has allowed content to be more interactive. Today, your social media profiles and share-ability of the content on your site are just as important as the site itself. “Social proof” and word of mouth advertising has never been so easy to come by, and it has never been so important either.
Be sure as you create your site that you keep in these principles in mind. Static, boring websites that are not updated regularly and do not promote interaction from visitors are destined for quick failure on the Internet today.