As with any project, whether it is for school, work or simply a DIY project at home, you need to have some sort of plan before you commence the project. Of course starting a web design project is no different, if you want to create a successful website then there are certain things you should ask yourself before starting. Remember poor planning will cost you money, time and effort in the long run. Compiled here is a list of ten things you should consider before starting your project.
1. What is the aim of your website?
This is really one of the most important questions to ask yourself about your website and yet time and time again you see web designers starting the design phase without having answered this simple question. If you don’t know what the aim of your site is then how are you going to know if what you are creating is really what you need. The aim of your website will dictate everything else in the building process.
2. What is your target market?
You really need to define your target market before starting your project, it is essential you clarify this early in the process since it will affect almost all aspects of your design, from theme to content usability and even which colors you will use. Throughout the entire process, you need to have your target market in mind.
3. Do you want people to be able to find you on Google?
You might think that the answer to this question is obvious; of course you want people to be able to find you on Google right? You would be surprised how many websites go unnoticed because their creator didn’t answer this question. Truth is, many people haven’t even heard about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and therefore simply expect their website to magically appear on search engines such as Google or Bing.
4. Do you want to get feedback from your visitors?
You need to consider if the aim of your website is to get feedback from your visitors. If your goal is to get feedback then let your visitors know that you would like them to leave feedback, also make it easy for them to leave feedback, whether this be a simple comment form or a more complex contact form. Always make things as easy for the visitors as possible.
5. Deciding who will design your website
This is the moment where you need to be honest with yourself, do you have the skills needed to create a website, trust me because you took a computer class in middle school and learnt some basic HTML coding it is not the same as creating a whole website. If you decide to hire a professional web designer then make sure you choose someone you can work with over a longer time period, remember creating a website is not something that you do over a weekend.
6. Do you have time to create the website yourself?
This is another one of those honesty questions, while you may have the ability to create the website on your own, do you actually have the time it takes to build a website. Remember that creating a website is a long process, one of the biggest reasons why websites fail or never even launch is because the designer underestimated how much time is needed to create the website.
7. Have you considered the cost of running a website?
You have to consider the cost of running a website before starting a project, this is not just how much it will cost to get your website online, but also how much it will cost to maintain it on a monthly basis. Remember that ideally your endgame should be to generate money from your site not have to pour more money into it.
8. Do you have a plan of action?
If you were going to travel from New York City to Los Angeles would you start driving without some sort of a plan? Most likely not, well it is the same with web design you don’t just start a project without a plan of action. I am not suggesting you draw out the whole website before getting started, but I would suggest jotting down a general plan of action, in other words, what do you need to add in order for the design to be as successful as possible.
9. Have you decided on the right web host?
The web host is really like life of your website, without a host there is no website. Currently there is a plethora of different hosting companies to choose from so choose wisely. You need to consider things such as the bandwidth they offer as well as the space they provide, how secure is the host, what about pricing does it cost more than you were expecting, finally a good web host will have great customer support should things go wrong.
10. Have you considered a responsive design?
There is no getting around it more and more internet users are browsing from a device other than their computer. Before you start your web design project you need to decide whether you will use responsive design, in other words, will you make your website adapt to the device the visitor is using? This includes making sure your web site runs on desktop computers, as well as being optimized for both phones and tablets.
Feature image curtsey of Jennifer Hood