In the first part of our series on how to build the perfect website, we looked at the initial planning process, showing what you need to do before you even start the construction. In this part, we look at design and build, with tips on how to optimise the site to create a bigger impact.
Now comes the fun part, well at least for the designers. They will take all of the information from the brief, the research and the overall plan to create visual mock-ups of the website. The designers should consider both mobile and desktop adaptations with user experience in mind. A standard approach is to design the home page first and get feedback on that before designing the interior pages. The interior pages should complement the home page so that everything links seamlessly as the user navigates the website. Adobe Photoshop seems to be the most popular software for designing websites, although some will argue that Adobe Illustrator is just as good, if not better – myself included! At the end of the day, it completely comes down to personal preference and both are more than adequate at creating stunning visuals.
Once the site has been designed, it’s the perfect time to get feedback. This can be from your colleagues, friends or family. Get their feedback before sharing it with the client because you want it to be as good as it can be before they see it. Once you have implemented all approved suggestions, you can then share the site with your client and await their delighted feedback.
So, the client has signed off the designs and you’ve got the green light to start the build. Do not start coding anything that can be influenced by the design until the client has fully approved it. You should make it clear that once the build stage begins it can become more difficult to change things and they may incur additional costs. Ensure you have a clear development plan in place and know exactly what functionality is required before building the website. It’s a good idea to simply list out everything that needs to be done and follow that while you’re developing the site. It will give you focus and a sense of reassurance that you’re making progress.
The hard part is done, but you’re not quite out of the woods yet. It’s time to put the website through its paces. Firstly, test it on all major browsers and devices to ensure it doesn’t have any bugs. You should also put yourself in the shoes of your website users by testing all possible scenarios. Write a plan for this to help keep you on track and avoid duplication. A comprehensive checklist is a great tool for ensuring all standard tasks have been completed. You should be forever building upon and improving this checklist to strengthen the process.
Once the site has been built, usually with placeholder content to speed up the development workflow, the real content needs to be added. As the content will have already been written because you’ve opted for a ‘content first’ approach, it should be a smooth and easy process. It can take a while depending on the size of the site but it’s worth noting that there are ways to speed things up. You can bulk upload in WordPress using carefully constructed spreadsheets and the WP All Import plugin. Also, you can import content from another WordPress website with the import/export feature built in to WordPress. If you’re going to be copy and pasting content, ensure you paste as plain text and format in the WordPress editor. This is because you can copy hidden styling from word processors or other websites which can mess up the appearance of your pages.
The website should now be in a good place for the SEO team to jump in and work their magic. They may spot further improvements so expect to have to tinker with the code a bit more. Don’t launch the website before the SEO work has been completed so that it has the best possible impact once it goes live.
At this stage, get the final feedback and approval from the client before switching it live. This is simply to make sure the client is happy with everything before it’s released to the public. Never switch it live without the client’s permission!
In Part 3, we’ll look at what you need to consider when your new website goes live. If you already know you need a new website and would like to talk to us about designing and building it to optimise performance, please feel free to get in touch!