by Anton Likhnekevich - February 14, 2019

You probably read about "nowadays, every self-respecting business should have a website," but o you know how to order sites correctly? how to define functionality and choose CMS? what to look for when contacting the agency? how to understand why one resource costs 500 dollars, and the other one 5000 dollars? From the step by step guide, you will learn how and where to order a website.

 

table of contents:

  1. Need a website developer? The first thing you need to understand is that ordering a good website is difficult.
  2. Step 1: Determine Why Do You Need a Website
  3. Step 2: Determine the required website functionality
  4. Step 3: Determine How should the Website look
  5. Step 4: Select CMS(Content Management System)
  6. Step 5: Agree on the additional characteristics that the website should meet
  7. Step 6: Determine Where you will order a website
  8. Step 7: Evaluate if you can make a website by yourself
  9. Step 8: Determine who will be promoting the project
  10. Step 9: Determine how much the website you need costs
  11. What do you need to order a website?

 

Need a website developer? The first thing you need to understand is that ordering a good website is difficult.

The point is not that agencies and web studios do not know how to work. More likely the problem lies in you. You are well versed in your business: build beautiful houses, produce wonderful cosmetics, cook the most delicious steaks in the world. But you do not understand websites at all. No, of course, you know that the website of “Apple” online store looks great and you like it very much.

You do not understand what to demand from the agency. When the manager tells you about the types of menus, layout in one or two columns, registration forms, personal account, and responsive design, you have only one choice: to believe or not to believe the other person. Because of this, you can spend too much money, get a resource with inappropriate functionality, conflict with a contractor because of a design mismatch with your expectations. And it's not about the dishonesty or lack of professionalism of the agencies. You just speak different languages.

If you want to get a website today, do not wait until the agencies learn to speak your language. No, this is not an attempt to translate responsibility from developers to customers. Just you are in charge here. It is you who have a successful business for the production of cosmetics or the construction of houses. You do not have time to wait until the hired manager of the web-studio finds the right words to clearly explain why it is better to make a website on Joomla !, and not on Drupal. Below you will find information that will help you order a quality website.

 

Step 1: Determine Why Do You Need a Website

If you know why you are creating a website, consider that you have come halfway to the successful launch of the resource. See for yourself: understanding the purpose of the website’s existence allows the customer and the developer to step through the plans. On the other hand, ordering a website because it’s so accepted, you risk falling into the trap of “maybe, but let's.” Here it is:

  • And let’s add a blog
  • And maybe swap the links "About the Company" and "Our Products" on the menu?
  • And what if you play with color here?
  • Everything is great, thank you very much, but something is still missing, something seems wrong.

Of course, you have every right not to worry about the mental health of developers. In the end, it’s their job. But the lack of understanding of the purpose of creating the website and the following deadlock “maybe change this, or let’s change that” is too expensive for you. First, you waste your time. Secondly, you waste your money. The order of links in the menu is unlikely to affect the efficiency of the resource.

How to determine for what purposes do you need a website? Take care of goal setting. Identify and write down on paper what goal you want to achieve with the help of the resource. Also, set the tasks that need to be solved to achieve the goal.

By the way, you are lucky if you order a business website because the goal is ready. It sounds like this: make more money. Well, you can comb it to your taste, make it measurable and specific to your business. The essence remains the same: any company or entrepreneur creates a website to earn more money

Then you have to work hard, you need to write down tasks that will help you make more money using the website. In order to formulate them correctly, answer the question “What should be done to increase profits through the website?”

Your future resource can solve the following tasks, contributing to the growth of profits:

  • Attract new customers;
  • Provide the ability to sell products or services online;
  • Increase marketing effectiveness. This task can be divided into many subtasks, for example, such as:
    • Expand sales funnel;
    • To form a loyal audience;
    • Reduce the cost of customer acquisition and increase LTV(Lifetime Customer Value);
    • Overcome advertising blindness with content marketing;
    • Reduce the cost of offline marketing and advertising.
  • Provide potential and existing customers with access to reliable information;
  • Overcome geographical restrictions;
  • Show the product’s face. We are talking about photos and descriptions of products, portfolio, list of clients, implemented projects, and etc.;
  • Improve customer service;

This list can be continued. But the essence is already clear: you need to set the tasks that your website will solve. Practice on a live example. For instance, state the goals and objectives of creating a website that was pursued by a Dental Clinic. Be sure to write them down on paper.

What did you do? I have this:

The purpose of the website: make more money. If you want, add specifics, specificity, and measurability.

Website creation tasks:

  1. Informing the audience. There are several subtasks here: from telling users about the existence of a clinic and its capabilities to educating clients.
  2. Build trust with customers
  3. Attracting customers. Selecting subtasks depending on the methods used: from contextual advertising to search marketing, including local search.
  4. Improving the quality of customer service. For example, on the website, you can choose a doctor, see prices of services, make an appointment or ask a specialist a question.

What else?

The goals and objectives recorded on paper will help you understand what the website should look like. This will make it much easier to communicate with the developers.

 

Step 2: Determine the required website functionality

This is a very simple step. Take a sheet of paper with recorded resource creation tasks. Take the red pen and formulate the tasks questions.

 

formulating questions from goals  

 

You will have such questions:

  • What do you need to inform the audience using a website?
  • What features are needed to attract new customers?
  • What should a website be able to do in order to improve the quality of customer service?

The first time answer the questions yourself. Later you will return to them with the manager or agency developers. Answer in detail and in writing. For example, write down the functions necessary to inform customers:

  • A website should display static pages: “About the Company”, “Product List”, “Contacts, Operating Time, Terms of Delivery and Payment”, etc.
  • A website should have a blog or section "Useful publications."
  • Somewhere on the side should be displayed the message from the "Twitter" or “Facebook” promptly reporting changes in work schedules, new product arrivals, and promotions.
  • In the footer should be published working conditions.
  • Somewhere in a prominent place, you need to hang up licenses, certificates, prizes, a list of clients and links to social profiles.

Now practice. Write down what functions in your opinion are necessary for the website of the dental clinic to improve the quality of customer service.

Be sure to discuss the recorded functions with the developer. The professional will certainly adjust the list in accordance with the tasks that the resource must solve. What if a specialist offers to add a function with which you are not familiar? Ask to talk about it. If in doubt, take the time to think it over and study the information yourself.

 

Step 3: Determine How should the Website look

This is one of the most difficult steps. Cause? Everyone has their own idea of perfect, good, bad and sloppy design. If you like the resource, it does not guarantee that your customers will like it. This statement works in the opposite direction. However, you are making a website for the public, not for yourself, so put its interests first.

To coordinate the appearance of the site with the developers, you need to solve two problems. First, determine the appropriate site markup. Secondly, fill it with the necessary visual components.

How to choose a website layout

You will choose the layout along with the developers of the website. Before communicating with them, remember a few theses:

  • For different pages of the website, you can use different layouts. For example, the homepage, publication page, and advertising landing page can be organized in different ways;
  • The layout should correspond to the subject of the site and the tasks that the page solves. For example, for a content project and a photographer's portfolio, it is probably better to use different templates;
  • The structure of the pages affects the perception of the content. Choose a layout that will help draw the attention of the audience to the most important information.

During the first meeting with the manager, you will be offered to choose one of the typical page structures; however, you do not have to choose standard patterns. Ask the developer to suggest layout appropriate in his opinion. Compare them with the layout of websites that you like and are supposed to please your customers. Puzzle an agency representative with your own template options for the homepage, publication page, or advertising landing page. Be sure to listen to the opinions and recommendations of the designer. Your ideas about the website should go through the filter of his or her professionalism and experience.

choosing layouts

After agreeing on the modular structure, you will have to answer another question. Choose the type of layout: static, fluid or responsive.

Static layout assumes that the dimensions of the page elements remain the same for all sizes of screens and browsers. Developers call this solution the simplest and most stable. The main drawback of the static layout is shown when a user opens your website using a gadget with a small screen. If you stay on this option, be prepared to invest in the development of a mobile version of the website.

On pages with fluid layout, blocks stretch across the width. This allows you to conveniently view the site on screens of different sizes. Adaptive design is an advanced version of the fluid layout. In adaptive pages, modular units change their size depending on the user's screen resolution, as well as the location and content of the modules. For example, on a desktop screen, a website with a responsive layout can be displayed in three columns, and on a smartphone screen in one.

responsive layout: modular block position changes

responsive layout: modular block position changes

How to choose the appearance of a website

This is one of the easiest stages of work for you, but one of the most difficult for developers. You just need to pass a brand book to the experts and discuss your idea of the perfect design. Representatives of the agency will have to translate your ideas into reality and then respond to requests such as playing with fonts and moving the logo a little closer to the center and bordering it with gold.

By the way, it's better not to waste your time and nerves of contractors playing with colors and fonts. Believe me, a professional knows better than you what should be the background, the color of the buttons and the font size of the headers. But if you have free time and a desire to actively participate in the creating of design, pay attention to the following moments:

  • Ask developers to ensure that the content is readable;
  • Before asking to play with fonts, study this question. This will help you consciously demand the result from the developers;
  • Assess the potential conversion rate of landing pages. Remember that as a landing page it is necessary to consider all pages of the website that are important for the audience. You will be helped by an article on the creation of landing pages;
  • Assess the potential conversion rate of landing pages. Remember that as a landing page it is necessary to consider all pages of the site that are important for the audience. You will be helped by an article on the creation of landing pages;
  • Ask the developer a few questions about usability. If you have no experience in developing resources, you will have to rely on the professionalism and experience of the designer. In the future, you will be able to evaluate usability on your own, as well as enhance it using split tests (A/B testing).

Remember, a website is not a task in drawing class in fifth grade. Resource design should provide visual appeal and readability of the content. Ideally, your users should not think about design at all. Therefore, do not demand from designers to add, remove or change something just because you want to demonstrate artistic preferences.

 

An example of great design

 

Step 4: Select CMS (Content Management System)

At this stage, you will have to solve two problems. First, determine whether you will use a CMS or order an HTML website. Secondly, if you decide to make a website with CMS, determine which content management system is better to use in your case.

What to choose: website on CMS or HTML

According to W3Techs Surveys, 55.2% of all sites operate on CMS, and 44.8% do not use the “engine”. Which of the two groups to choose?

HTML websites give you the following benefits:

  • There are practically no restrictions on the choice of structure, design, and functionality;
  • Undemanding to resources. HTML websites load quickly and work consistently on traffic spikes;
  • No need to pay for CMS.

The absence of binding to the CMS gives developers the opportunity to implement any ideas of the customer. However, the main lack of resources on HTML can eliminate all the advantages. If you build the best houses or cook delicious steaks, but do not understand anything in web programming, you will not be able to publish content yourself. You will have to hire a specialist or pay developers to support the resource.

Sites with a content management system indicate the following advantages:

  • Ability to independently add and edit content. This does not require knowledge of web programming;
  • Independent changes in the architecture, functionality and technical characteristics of the website. Of course, you will spend time studying the administrative panel, but you can edit the menu, set up a backup, manage caching without changing the code.
  • Ability to use a template design. For example, you can easily find paid WordPress themes that look better than many custom designed options.

Choose a website in HTML in two cases: if you need a business card website from one static page or if you are willing to pay developers and staff programmers to support the resource. Use CMS if you want to be able to independently publish content.

Which CMS to choose

The agency manager will certainly offer you several “engines” to choose from after studying the purpose and objectives of the website. Among them are the following CMS:

    • WordPress. More than 30% of all websites on the Internet and more than 60% of the resources based on CMS  work on this system. You can create different types of resources on WordPress: from a personal blog to a corporate website, from an online store to a large content project.
    • Joomla. This is the second most popular "engine" after WordPress. It is considered more functional and customizable than the leader, but with “Joomla” you will find it harder to control the website on your own. However, experts believe this CMS is more suitable for creating online stores.
    • Drupal. This CMS runs 1.9% of the total number of sites and 3.5% of resources on “engines”. Choose this “engine” if you need to solve non-standard tasks, support complex services. Note, if in WordPress and Joomla you can add almost any functions using plug-ins, working with Drupal you will have to contact programmers more often.
    • Shopify. This “engine” was chosen by the owners of 1.9% of the resources working on the CMS. Shopify is WordPress for online stores. The content management system is simple, customization with plug-ins, security. It incorporates the basic functions necessary for organizing online trading.

 

  • Custom CMS. The system can be designed specifically for your website and adapted to the specifications of your company, with functions and processes that complement your current campaigns to build potential customers, content goals and internal processes. This option is more suitable for larger companies that need unique and specific functionality, and not oriented to the main majority as existing Content Management Systems do.

 

Also, you can be offered with UMI, NetCat, Magento and other good CMS. Before the final choice, consult with the developer, look at what CMS websites that you like based on. Evaluate the functionality of the proposed systems. If possible, check the usability of the administration panels.

 

Step 5: Agree on the additional characteristics that the website should meet

Briefly, your website should meet the needs of the audience and the technical requirements of search engines. Here is a basic list of features and specifications that you must agree with the developers:

  • Correct display in popular browsers;
  • Adaptation for mobile devices;
  • Correctly configured sitemap and robots.txt file;
  • Acceptable website loading speed;
  • No duplicate pages. Ask developers to provide URL canonization, to close the page from tags, categories, and archives;
  • The ability to optimize the meta-data of a page;
  • Ability to insert third-party service codes, for example, analytics services;
  • Code validity. Check here;
  • Ability to optimize graphics content: resize photos, add a title, caption and alt attribute;
  • Availability of user-friendly functions: comments, social buttons, rating system, search forms and feedback, easy-to-navigate;
  • If you work in the international market, you will need a multilingual website;
  • Resource security: protection from unauthorized access, creating backup copies, blocking spam comments;

Discuss with the developer what other characteristics the resource should meet.

 

Step 6: Determine Where you will order a website

The choice is small: you have to work with an agency or a freelancer. Do not look for a universal recipe for finding a contractor. Working with studios and private experts has advantages and disadvantages.

Why is it worth cooperating with reputable agencies? Here are the main reasons:

  • Studios usually provide comprehensive services. You do not have to think about hosting, technical optimization, Internet marketing;
  • You sign the contract and pay for the services of the agency officially;
  • You will communicate with the manager, not directly with the web programmer, that will help you speak the same language;
  • In theory, collaboration with the studio protects you from missing deadlines and other force majeure characteristic of working with freelancers. For example, if a private specialist becomes ill, work on your project will stop until he got better.

Cooperation with freelancers has its advantages:

  • You can save well, independently coordinating the creation of the website. For example, you can find a private web programmer, designer, copywriter, and monitor the implementation of the project. You do not have to pay for the services of a manager and an accountant who works in an agency;
  • It is easier to work with a freelancer informally. You can find good specialists in the near and far abroad who take less money for work. There is a risk: you can pay money, and in return you get nothing;
  • You will communicate with the performer directly. Decide for yourself whether this is an advantage or disadvantage.

A good partner can be found among agencies and private professionals. When choosing, pay attention to the following:

  • Experience in the implementation of projects similar to yours;
  • Experience with your chosen CMS. If you decide to make a resource with a custom admin panel, ask for the sample of already implemented custom CMS;
  • Study social proofs: reviews, comments on forums and on social networks, awards, certificates, etc. By the way, industry rankings may be useful to you;
  • Make sure that you will be comfortable talking to the developer. Perhaps you like to discuss all the issues in person. Then you better cooperate with experts working in your city;
  • Long-term website support and internet marketing. If you cook steaks or treat people all the time, choose a contractor who can fully take over the website.

 

Step 7: Evaluate if you can make a website by yourself

You can create a website yourself. Moreover, you will spend no more than an hour on launching a resource, taking into account the choice of a domain name and confirmation of payment for hosting. But to create a website that meets the needs of the audience, you will have to spend much more time. Therefore, assess whether it is worth spending time studying the “constructors”, layouts and meta-data to the detriment of core activities.

Make a resource yourself in such cases:

  • You need a personal blog;
  • You want a very simple website with a few static pages, a blog and contact information. Your audience will forgive you a template resource;
  • You have free time and desire to study. The market will not forgive you a frankly bad site, so you will have to learn and do a lot;
  • You want to save money by all means;
  • You are a genius, a seller of a unique product or a malicious discounter. The audience goes to your site, as it has no choice.

If bootstrapping is your philosophy, pay attention to simple tools for creating websites:

  • WIX;
  • Joomla;
  • WordPress;
  • OpenCart;
  • Squarespace.

 

Step 8: Determine who will be promoting the project

You can do internet marketing yourself or delegate this task to professionals. Before you decide, look at what needs to be done in the framework of integrated Internet marketing:

  • Maintain the site: monitor the relevance of the version of the “website engines”, respond to new technical requirements of search engines, promptly troubleshoot, pay bills to the hosting provider in time and perform much other routine work;
  • Evaluate the marketing effectiveness of the website. Web analytics and transaction reports will help you;
  • Create and publish content regularly;
  • Be engaged in SMM, guest posting, email newsletter;
  • Be engaged in search marketing and content marketing;
  • Attract users with different types of ads;
  • Convert leads.

If you are ready to do these and other types of work, order furniture for new employees of the marketing department. If you do not want to distract car mechanics and doctors from their main activities, contact the agency.

It is perfect if the agency at the same time creates your website and is engaged in Internet marketing. In this case, it will be easier for developers to plan the characteristics of the resource needed to solve marketing tasks.

 

Step 9: Determine how much the website you need costs

The final price of the website depends on its characteristics: functionality, design, volumes of content and so on. Relatively speaking, a business card website with a template design will cost you 500 dollars, and the cost of custom and professionally designed website with the integration of complex service, for example, an online payment system, will be calculated several orders higher. You will find out the approximate cost of the website after agreeing with its characteristics with the developer. The final amount you will see in the act of work performed. Do not forget that you will have to constantly invest in resource development and internet marketing.

 

What do you need to order a website?

Start with brainstorming: clearly define what tasks your resource will perform. This will help you describe the necessary functionality. Then everything will go like clockwork: you describe the perfect design from your point of view, choose a CMS, determine the necessary technical specifications. After that, you will understand whether to create a resource yourself or better to turn to professionals. It remains just a little: to decide who will promote the website and how much money will be needed for the project. If you work with an agency, the price will be called to you after discussing the idea.

If you ever ordered websites to agencies or freelancers, share your experience. Tell us what you think should be considered in communication with developers. You can also comment on the article, write comments or suggestions.

This article will help you avoid the many mistakes that the digital agency's clients make. But this article is not a panacea. If you want to order a website, we recommend immediately contact the professionals. WellKown Agency develops websites with any complexity. We will consult and explain all the nuances for free. Details on the link.


Anton Likhnekevich

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