We build a lot of websites. Something that I have learned through talking to people about our projects is that most people have no idea what all goes into building a successful website. There are a lot of things you need to have figured out before you even start building. Some things you can add along the way but the more that you have on the front end the smoother the build is going to work and the faster the project can be completed. Here are some of the basics.
- Effective company branding should be established already. This includes:
- Company colors (preferably specified as PMS colors or the hex code equivalents)
- What kind of feel do you want? Industrial, Friendly, Sales, Rugged, Corporate, etc.
- Company Information
- About us content (When did the company start, what do you do, what makes you better than your competition, why should someone work with you, etc)
- Any information about your team you’d like to convey including pictures
- GENERAL CONTENT!!!!
- Contact information
Now. I’ll break these down a little.
So before you build a site you need to have a domain for it. This determines your sites location on the internet and is the way that people access your information. Domain names used to be a little more complicated as they used to determine searchability. However now with googlebots crawling sites and the way that SEO (see previous blog on SEO) works now, that isn’t the case. So now you just want it to be short, writeable, and preferably pronounceable or easily understood like an acronym. You want it to be easy to tell people what your website address is and you want it to look good on a business card or other company advertising material. If you can get just your company name or something as relatively simple, awesome!
You have to have a place for your website to sit on the internet so your site needs to be hosted. This can be done in several different ways and what you need will change in terms of how large your site is or what features you want your site to have (ecommerce, large amounts of displayed video or photos, etc). As much of what you want out of your site that you can figure out on the front end the better. Most major domain services such as GoDaddy provide hosting services as well, or if you’re a do it yourselfer there are options such as WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, or many other which help you through hosting as well. As an advertising agency we take care of all of this for our clients and we have our own dedicated server space for hosting our sites of clients that don’t already have that worked out on their own.
Effective Company Branding
One of the most frustrating things is trying to build a site that you have no direction on look or feel. Your company logo is very important as that is how most people are going to identify it is indeed your site once they are on it. You don’t want people to be unsure as to whether it is your company or a competitor company website that they are looking at. Also its helpful to have main colors chosen. I mentioned earlier PMS or hex codes. PMS is the Pantone Matching System and it assigns numbers to colors so that they are searchable. Your idea of “blue” and your developer’s idea of “blue” could be very different. Also for the sake of consistency its helpful to be as specific as possible when deciding on colors. Hex codes are similar. If you give a developer a PMS color they’ll have to convert it to a hex code anyway. A hex code is the six digit number for a color that actually goes into the website code so that the correct color is displayed. Whether that be for a background, type color, or border, that’s what your web developer is going to need. A lot of times though I end up having to throw a company logo into Photoshop and spot pick the color to get the hex code to build with. Type decisions for header and body font are better made on the front end as well. You don’t want to be halfway through the build and then have to change the fonts everywhere. That will just stall you on time. All of these things are simplified by hiring someone like us, an advertising agency, as most of the time we do the design for the logo, company branding items, and will do a webcomp so that a design can be decided on before the building starts. Hiring an advertising agency can greatly reduce all the headaches with making all these decisions as we have designers on staff that will produce desired material and feel without as much trial and error. We are in fact, trained for this.
Who are you? What do you provide? When did you start? What makes you better than the competition? These are all things that people are going to want to know about you if they are going to your website. It’s super frustrating to go to a website to find out about a company and there be no information provided. Also. The more information you provide, the better your seo will be, which means you’ll be ranked higher with google and be more likely to be found, and more likely to have an increase in customers. A fleshed out about us can be very helpful to a consumer.
This is huge. It’s impossible to have a good SEO (search engine optimization) ranking without good original content. Google and their bots are getting smarter. You can’t fill a page with keywords and have unreadable content and expect to have a good ranking. Google wants to see that you are providing people with information not provided elsewhere. That it’s readable, helpful, focused, and on topic. Good content is the most important thing when it comes to SEO. This means:
- Atleast 300 words of content per page
- Pictures (because who wants to look at a website that is just text) – With correct and useful titles, alt text, and descriptions
- Any additional content you can provide such as videos, sound clips, links to related helpful sites, etc. also with correct and useful titles, alt text, and descriptions
Doing it yourself you’ll have to write all that on your own. As an ad agency we help our clients build content but having at least an outline of what you want to express is so unbelievably helpful for creating a successful website.
You need to decide who in your company will handle contacts from the website. You want to have a place for people to contact you to ask questions about the content you provide or maybe where there could be content holes on your site about your company. This can even be helpful for adding content to your site. FAQ sections are helpful for reducing contacts about the same thing over and over but it’s impossible to anticipate everything anyone would need to know about your company and what you provide. You want to be able to address these questions to avoid unnecessary poor reviews about a lack of information or lack of help provided. This is usually best done with a contact form that will directly email you, providing a phone number, a location in case people want to visit you in store (if that is the sort of service you provide), and any other way you may want people to know about how to contact you.
Overall, what you need and what is provided varies heavily on a case to case basis. But these are the general basics we need to get started. There is so much more that goes into building a site in its entirety and that’s part of why we exist, to help you put your best foot forward in presenting your company through the internet. Take a look at our portfolio and contact us if you think we would be a good fit for your new website or website rebuild. Let’s make something beautiful together.
Written By: Kari Owen, Web Projects Manager at Navigation Advertising