Here is a guide to help you understand what goes into website development.
Getting a website off the ground can be overwhelming for people who have no idea where to start. Here are tips to get you started.
1. WHERE DO I START?
So, you need a website but not sure where to start? In short, you need three things to get a website online…
- Domain name. This is the URL (e.g. www.google.com) that people use to find your website. If you don’t know what your domain will be, you can check availability through sites like, www.whois.com.
- Hosting. You’ll need to rent storage on a server for your website’s files.
- Design and development. This is the most exciting part – determining a design and having your selected firm build your new website to the agreed specifications (scope), we provide assistance with this process below. Please complete our online form to receive a free website quote, or just take a look to see what kind of questions you might anticipate to get the process started!
2. WHAT WEB DESIGN FIRM DO I CHOOSE?
We advise everyone to speak with several different firms to start. Generate a list by asking family or friends for referrals, internet searches, or simply by looking to see who designed sites you like. If the list is large you can reduce it quickly by looking at the portfolio; almost every design firm has one on their website. Then choose two or three firms that seem to have the design capabilities that best match your goals.
It is recommended that you keep the number of firms you choose to interview limited to two or three, as it can take considerable effort on their part to explore your needs. But nobody wants to spend several hours dealing with a potential client if they are one of ten companies being interviewed.
3. HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO BUILD A WEBSITE?
Unfortunately, there is no magic number here. Timelines are based on many factors:is the site design custom or a template, are there 5 pages or 100, is there a lot of copy, images or other multimedia? The list of questions can go on and on. However, to provide a general idea, Digital Edison has designed simple sites (5 pages) in a week and designed larger, more complex sites that took several months. It really varies project by project and how quickly approval turnaround times occur, but if you have a deadline, that can serve as a benchmark for the firm to provide a timeline. It is pretty typical for web firms to provide a timeline at the time of their proposal or once the initial project scope is defined.
4. DO I WANT A CUSTOM OR A TEMPLATE DESIGN?
What is a custom design versus a template design? And which one is best for your website? Below is some information to help you understand what may serve best for to your needs.
Custom Designed Websites
A professionally designed custom website is unique and built from scratch, tailored to your needs. This is a great option if you want to stand out from your competition.
Templates are designs that are pre-designed and available to purchase or download. A template design can be adapted to your needs by modifying graphics, color scheme and more. Templates are usually a more affordable option, since the design is already created and won’t require as much design time as a custom site.
5. HOW CAN I GET MY SITE TO RANK HIGH IN SEARCH ENGINES?
When using a search engine, an individual will typically consider the search results briefly before choosing one. Maintaining the quality of the result text which appears can improve the likelihood of being clicked upon for key phrases.
At the very least, your chosen firm should ensure your most important pages have clear, well-written titles and descriptions with their maximum respective lengths. The site design should be appealing to view but it is just as important that it also functions in the 5 major browsers: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Apple Safari and Opera and properly indexes in search engines. During your interviewing process, be sure to ask your prospective firms what is included in their proposed solution for optimization, at a minimum the foundational pages.
6. HOW CAN I MAKE UPDATES TO THE SITE AFTER IT’S BUILT
There are a couple standard options for maintaining your site. One is to inquire with your selected web firm to see if they offer maintenance support. Many web companies offer a monthly package, depending on how frequently updates are required. Another option is having your site built within a content management system [CMS]. A CMS gives you the ability to update and change site content anytime, generally using a web browser. While having the ability to make your own updates has it’s perks and can be cost effective, you need to decide if this is something you really have the time and resources to do.
7. HOW CAN I KNOW WHO VISITS MY WEBSITE?
It’s important to know who is viewing your website and how frequently. There are many free tools that can track and report visitor statistics, such as Google Analytics. Here at Digital Edison, we developed our own a tool that surpasses the capabilities of Google Analytics. We email a monthly report customized to the data our clients want to track and monitor. Most web firms offer to install a tool for you to track your site visitors, so be sure to inquire about this when interviewing if it’s of interest to you.
8. WHO OWNS THE COMPLETED WEBSITE?
Generally, upon final payment or the project copyright to the finished work (website/graphics) is vested with the client. That ownership would typically include photos, unique graphics, HTML code, text and any other program(s) specifically designed or purchased on behalf of the client for completion of this project. But this is a good question for the firm you select to ensure both parties are in agreement.
We hope you found these tips helpful and it sets you on your way to get started! The team at Digital Edison invites any questions or web projects you have on the horizon! Feel free to contact us at any time.