What should you pay attention to when having a website made? What is really important? And what should you consider before you request a quote for building a website?
To clarify what your website must meet, it is important to set your goals, requirements, and limits.
It is not easy if you have never had a website built to think of everything. This checklist can help you with this. Of course, a website must be user-friendly and clear. But what does that say exactly?
In this article, I have collected the most important factors to consider before developing a website.
Or before you request quotes.
Good preparation ensures a match between your wishes and the final website that will be delivered. Besides, it creates the right conditions that are necessary to make your website a success.
1 # Determine the main purpose of your new website
Ideally, this is a measurable goal. For example, the new website should generate twice as many members. Or: the website must ensure an increase in quotation requests.
Because a goal has now been set, everyone involved in developing the new website can commit to this goal. All noses go one way, as it were.
The SEO consultant can analyze and monitor the correct keywords. The interaction designer knows which buttons have priority. The developers can think along to make the registration process for new members as simple as possible.
It is important to set one primary goal. Of course, a website can serve several purposes. But by setting one goal above the rest, the chances of achieving this goal are greatest.
2 # Think about which goals you want to achieve in the longer term
Suppose you have described multiple goals in the previous item. In that case, this is a good time to distinguish between the goal you want to achieve with the new website and which goals you want to achieve in phase 2 and phase 3 of the website. An example of a primary goal is: to attract twice as many visitors through Google.
After the website has gone live, and this goal has been achieved, you can work with the website on a secondary goal. For example, double the conversion, link the website to a CRM system or set up a customer portal.
Because you make a clear distinction in your goals, a clear vision for the future web site is created. Besides, you can already discuss the long-term goals with the agency that will make your website. That way, you can find out if they can help you with these goals or perhaps set up all the technology of your website so that these goals are more easily achieved.
3 # Describe what visitors can do on your website
For example, visitors must be able to subscribe to a newsletter after reading an article; visitors must find and contact members. Or users must be able to gain insight into the latest invoices.
You must state what the visitor should be able to do. How this is achieved is a process that you solve together with your internet agency. As a client, you cannot properly estimate in advance which functionality best suits the promotion and whether it is affordable or even possible within the CMS that is used.
An example is the desire to display a map on the website showing different branches. Research shows that your visitors can probably make search better in a different way to locations such as by entering a zip code or city.
By describing what a visitor should be able to do, ‘quickly find the right location,’ and leaving it at that, you keep open exactly how this should be done.
4 # Describe who the website is for
You can keep this general, but it is also fine to create a persona for each target group. With a persona, you create a detailed profile of someone from your target group. You try to make this profile as real as possible. This can help to better understand who is behind a target audience by thinking from someone’s perspective in the target audience.
Usually, it is limited to coming up with the personas. This still has a positive effect because an attempt is made to put themselves in the visitor’s shoes. Working with personas becomes even more effective when you test during and after your website’s development, whether the content, navigation, and functionality still fit the personas.
Are you not going to do this? It then suffices to clarify the different target groups for whom the website is intended at the initial stage.
If you have an old website and you want to transfer data from it, this must be migrated. This is almost always a complex process because systems work differently, and the data is stored differently in different databases.
To make a good estimate of the complexity, you have to give the creator of your new website insight into the data you want to bring with you.
In addition, you may want to make a link between an external system and your new website. Think of vacancies that are in an HR system or users who must be known in both the CMS and the CRM. Links are also complex parts of the development of a website, and it is important to provide insight into the type of link that must be set up.
Are you unable to provide a good insight into which data needs to be migrated at this time, or is it not yet clear within your organization with which system the website should be linked? Then it is wise to move this to the next phase in which you will expand the website.
6 # Collect statistics from the old website
Even if the current website is outdated, the statistics can be very valuable for you and your internet agency in developing a new website.
Questions, discussions, or choices during development can be provided with context and figures. What is the relationship between mobile and tablet? What do people actually do after visiting the ‘about us’ page? Do people actually use the search field? With the knowledge of your old website’s statistics, you can make the new website even better.
7 # Division of roles within your organization
This is an important part that is often underestimated. In practice, we often see that setting up a new website takes a lot of time. Those who think about what content should be on the website are not the ones who ultimately have to post, adapt, edit, or translate it.
It is, therefore, best to make a division of roles in advance.
- Who is going to write which content?
- Who monitors the quality of the content?
- Who is going to get started with testing the new web design?
- Who provides the feedback to the web designer?
- Who takes care of the photography?
8 # Which content types should all be included on the website?
This step is best done after making the division of roles. Everyone in your team is now aware of his or her role. Listing a long list of content now has consequences, and this ensures that people consciously look at the time they have available to create certain content and post it on the website.
Below is a list of content types that we see frequently, each with their own purpose. You should start with the content that contributes to achieving your primary goal, and this content has the highest priority.
The distinction between these content types is determined by the custom fields that each content type needs.
For example, an event needs a date field, a download an attachment field, and a reference to an image field.
- Articles / blogs
- Solutions / Services / Products
9 # External resources
There are many external parties to hire who can help set up the new website.
You have: copywriters, translators, illustrators, photographers, SEO specialists (search engine optimization), UX designers (user experience), SEA specialists (search engine advertising), hosting consultants, privacy officers, conversion optimization specialists, community managers, and social strategy experts.
So there is a lot to hire. Think in advance whether you really need the specialist and at what stage. Perhaps the knowledge you need is available within your own team, organization, or at the agency that you hire. And also, consider whether the specialist contributes to your primary goal.
Is your primary goal to be better found in Google? Then you benefit from good content. For example, a copywriter and a photographer can help with this.
10 # User-friendliness / accessibility
How user-friendly should the website be, and to what extent are you prepared to release a budget for this or to specify functionalities within the website?
Suppose you go for one of the highest possible forms of accessibility; Web Guidelines 2.0, to which in principle all public and government websites must comply. This means that you must comply with all kinds of rules. Consider offering a contrast option or correctly entering heading tags. In addition, it also entails limitations. For example, you cannot show YouTube videos or a Google Map map because it does not comply with the web guidelines.
Therefore, think carefully about the consequences when you decide that your website must comply with certain guidelines. And define which guidelines should be used.
11 # Open source, closed source, or customization
You may have already made a decision about this. If not, it is an important choice that you should make before requesting quotes.
Open source, closed source, or customization differ enormously from each other. No solution is, by definition, better than the other. They are just different.
With open-source, you can develop faster, expanding your website is often cheaper, but you also have to be flexible and sometimes accept that functionalities do not work as you would like. The solution has often already been devised with a closed source, and you can turn to the maker for support and warranty. With a custom solution, you can think of and develop everything as you want, but this has a major impact on your budget.
When making a choice, you should also be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of this solution. For example, you cannot set the same requirements for open source software that you could set for closed source software.
12 # Privacy / AVG
Instead of checking afterward whether a website complies with the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), it is wise to think about this before building a new website. This saves extra investments or disappointments afterward.
A lot has already been written about the GDPR, and it covers a lot of different aspects. Too much to repeat in this article. If you want to know more about AVG, you can read this article: What about AVG now? And what does this mean for your website?
In preparation for setting up the new website, it is important to consider where personal data will be entered, which personal data is involved, and how it will be stored.
It is also important to map out where the focus lies for you as an organization. For example, there are organizations where privacy is extremely important, and tracking and profiling visitors is not an option. This must therefore become a starting point in the development of the new website.
13 # Put together a corporate identity package
The purpose of this is to provide the agency that will work on the website with the correct materials to work with.
Concentrate on the basics, and generally, these are the corporate identity colors and logo. Fonts, font sizes, and photos are elements that are very dependent on the way you are going to set up your website and what preconditions you set for this. For example, you can provide a corporate identity book and require the website to comply with this.
Chances are that this corporate identity book does not take responsive web design into account, so you will be faced with surprises when the website is delivered.
14 # Hosting
In my opinion, this is often given too much attention, and for that reason alone, I would not like to mention him. But figuring out which hosting options there are is, of course, wise. Are you going for shared hosting, a managed server, or a SaaS solution? The consequences are great. You can also read more about different hosting solutions in What is the best hosting solution for your website?
But keep in mind that the hosting solution does not have to be ready until your website is ready and goes live. In the meantime, you develop and work on the website on your agency’s development server.
15 # Testing
Finally, it is wise to start thinking about how you want to test the new website. You can do this yourself, but there is a chance that you will miss something. Do you want to release a user group on the website? Perhaps the agency that builds the website for you can guide you in this. Or do you want to A / B testing? Also, something in which it is wise to involve the agency in this. Because which parts are you going to the A / B test?
What variations are you going to make in this? You can read more about A / B testing in setting up your first A / B test within 5 minutes.
These are the checks that I think are important to include in your preparation. If I have forgotten a point, I would like to read it in the comments section at the bottom of this page.
Good luck with the preparation and development of your new website!