OK, maybe there is no ‘perfect’ web build process as things are constantly changing and you will be forever tweaking it. However, we think we’ve got it pretty close to perfect now and we’d like to share it with you in this three-part series.
Our description is fairly generic and stripped of the finer details, because you may be building your website with a different platform to WordPress, which is what we use. This means some of the tasks ands recommendations would differ.
A clear brief from the client is the starting point for any successful web build project. This stage is crucial because it’s where you can gauge your client’s expectations and requirements. A comprehensive questionnaire is also a necessity, to answer all of the common queries from the outset. This will prevent you from forgetting to ask something really important which could come back to haunt you later down the road. It’s recommended to send the client the questionnaire prior to your initial kick off meeting so they have time to answer accurately. You should run through it again in person to fully understand everything and ask any questions that arise.
It’s a good idea to get all of the login details that you’re going to need early on in the process. That’s because quite often the client doesn’t have them or has misplaced them and it can take time to track them down. It’s a pain when you’re ready to launch a website and you find out that you don’t have the domain logins. The main logins you will need are their domain, CMS and hosting account. Make sure you get these in person or over the phone and then check to see that they actually work too. Do not request them by email as it’s a potential security risk if the email accounts ever become compromised by a hacker. Be sure to store these details somewhere safe which is password protected with two factor authentication enabled.
A common error is to undervalue the importance of content and leave it until the end. Content must be produced as soon as possible in the process. Content lead design is what makes all the difference between a mediocre website and a brilliant website. This is because the content will have been written for purpose and the designers will know exactly what they’re working with. What tends to happen quite often is the client wants you to design a website based off the content on their current website or their brochure. This just isn’t going to work. Firstly, they’re getting a new website for a reason and it’s probably because the current website is out of date. Therefore, the content is likely to be out of date too. Secondly, a brochure is a brochure, it’s not a website. Content written for a brochure is targeted to a completely different audience. So, don’t fall at the first hurdle, make sure you have new engaging content written for purpose. It is a vital part of the journey.
Doing your research is admittedly not the most enjoying part of the process, which is why it is commonly skipped to dive right into the project. This is a big mistake because there is so much you can learn from looking at other websites and perhaps even more from competitor websites. Also, thoroughly analysing the client’s current website, if there is one, is a great way to understand what works and, more importantly, what doesn’t, and how you can improve it – you don’t want to give the client a website that has all of the same issues as before! Although, if you correctly carried out the briefing process, capturing the client’s pain points, you shouldn’t have that problem.
Once you have the brief and research in place you can use it to plan the web build and future strategies. It is very important that you have a professional SEO team/person involved at this stage. They will provide an invaluable contribution by helping you with the sitemap, navigation, calls to action, keyword strategy, content schedules, schema recommendations and much more. Your plan can be in the form of a spreadsheet, word document, PowerPoint, whatever you feel comfortable with. Once you have a clear plan, you are sure to succeed in creating a great website that works for both the users and the search engines.
Don’t underestimate the importance of feedback, especially at specific points in the web build process. At this point you should share your Strategy and Plan with the client to ensure everyone is on the same page before making a start on the design.