When we use the phrase “web design” or “website design” generically, we’re omitting several individual practices that go into the production of a website. This includes: strategy, content, design, development, performance, validation, and ongoing maintenance. To produce a website that helps your business grow, you actually need a combination of all of these things contributing towards your ultimate goal.
The price, scope, and timeline of a project can vary widely depending on each of these factors, and we’ll discuss each one individually in this article.
Each of these practices are dependent on the practice that precedes it, which means you need to follow a linear process— starting with strategy.
Strategy has an overarching effect on every aspect of your online presence, but before we can move forward to those things we must first understand some fundamental things.
This includes answering questions like: Who is your website for? Why will people visit? What do you want them to do? How does a website fit into your business model? How does it fit into your marketing campaigns? What are your competitors doing online?
These, along with many other questions, will ultimately determine the overall strategy for your website.
While many do-it-yourself website builders have become popular today, they are missing the most important aspect in building a successful online presence— the strategy behind it. Without the strategy in place, you could end up with a beautiful design that “does” very little for your business.
Your website content includes the words, images, graphics, video, or any other media that will be on your website.
It’s important that the content on your website is in alignment with your strategy, but there are other factors to consider as well— such as search engine optimization, structure, and being able to persuade visitors to take your desired actions.
Ultimately it is the content on your website that will differentiate you from your competitors and determine whether or not a user engages and takes action.
Many business owners are tempted to write their own website copy, use photos taken from their cell phone (or externally sourced images), or mix-matched graphics from projects past— but it’s important to consider if your have the skills, knowledge, and experience in order to do it effectively yourself.
“Design” is the most common catch-all phrase for having a website built, but when it comes to building a website, but the primary focus of web design is to create the layout and visual elements of how your website will look. We’ll sometimes reference these visual aspects as “User Interface” or “UI”.
Another factor to consider in design is the “User Experience” or “UX”. UX is primarily focused on usability, ease of use, and how customers feel when using your site.
Both UX and UI need to be considered when designing a website, as many of their functions have a strong overlap.
Website development is taking the design concepts and putting them into functional use within a web browser. It’s important that a site is well-coded, structured properly, and performs at a peak level in order to be successful.
During development, the developer must take into account your strategy, content, & design in order to produce a usable website that will display and function properly across a multitude of devices and screen sizes.
What good is a website that no one can access? The performance of your website is critical.
When it comes to hosting, there are a wide variety of options available, but any option you choose will have strengths and weaknesses. It’s important to take into consideration your strategy, content, design, and development stack to ensure you have the proper infrastructure in place.
Additionally you’ll want to make sure you have the proper security and backup schedule in place to ensure your website continues to perform without interruption.
All the decisions you made leading up to the launch of your website have been based on research & experience— but until you start getting live traffic to your website you won’t know how these things play out in the “real world”.
Validation is an important step to measure your website’s effectiveness & collect data. You can then use these analytics to make strategic decisions to make adjustments to your strategy, content, design, development, and performance based on real user data.
Continuous iteration is important because people, technology, and your business constantly evolves over time. In order to stay relevant and continue to operate a successful website, you’ll want to continue to invest in your online presence for the life of your website.
Just like anything in life, if you let your website sit idle it can start to deteriorate— something you certainly don’t want to happen to something you just invested so much time and money into.
WordPress maintenance is especially important as much of the software that makes up your website is built by 3rd party vendors. Over time there are updates & changes to this software (for functionality and security) that needs to be updated.
Without proper maintenance, your website can become vulnerable to hacks, security breaches, or simply become unusable.
How secure is your website right now?
If you’re going to have a website built in the first place, you have to consider the ongoing support and maintenance it will take to keep your site bringing in customers.
There are secrets to a successful website project.
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A website is more than just one thing— as we discussed in this article it’s actually many things all working in coordination to get you to your ultimate goal.
Ensuring you work with a web developer that understands all of these factors and can help you excel in each is critical. The most common mistake seen today is having everything in place except for the strategy.
It’s really no surprise — with the rise of DIY website builders (like Wix, Weebly, & Squarespace) just about anyone can have a functioning site built with a beautiful template. Unfortunately, without any thought or strategy, sites like this rarely perform well.