When building a website there is a process that most designers use. This process covers all the steps from deciding on a website to building it and putting them live.
While all of the steps are important, the amount of time you spend on them is up to you. Some designers prefer to plan a lot before building while others spend little or no time on marketing. But if you know what the steps are you can decide which ones you don't need.
Knowing the purpose of the site will help you set goals for the site as well as help determine your target audience.
Goals are useful for most websites as it helps you measure how the site is performing, and whether it is worth expanding and improving the site.
And knowing the target audience for a site can help you with design elements as well as appropriate content. A site targeting seniors is going to have a completely different feel from one targeting toddlers.
2. Start PLANNING the site design
Many people think this is where you jump into your web editor and start building, but the best sites start with a plan and start that plan even before the first wireframe is built.
Your design plan should include:
This is where most of us start to have fun - with the design phase of the project. While you can jump right into your editor now, I recommend you still remain outside of it and do your design in a graphics program or even on paper first.
You will want to think about:
Content is what people come to your site for. This can include text, images, and multimedia. By getting at least some of the content ready ahead of time, you can more easily start building the site.
You should look for:
- Text – this can be articles, blog posts, lists, reviews, or anything that you want to write about on your site.
- Graphics – there are lots of places to find images for web pages including photos you’ve taken and free images. Be sure you’re using the right format for your images.
- Multimedia – Remember that multimedia can have a negative impact on your site. Make sure that you're adding sound and video to your sites appropriately. Multimedia isn’t appropriate for all target audiences.
If you’ve done a good job planning and designing your site, then building the HTML and CSS will be easier. And for many of us, this is the best part.
You will use lots of different technologies to build your site:
Testing your website is critical both throughout the building phase and after you’ve gotten it built. While you’re building it, you should preview your pages periodically to make sure your HTML and CSS are working correctly.
Then you want to make sure:
7. UPLOAD the Site to Your Hosting Provider
In most cases, you will need to upload your pages to a hosting provider to test them effectively. But if you have done all your initial testing offline, you will want to upload them to your hosting provider.
I have found that it’s a good idea to have a “launch party#8221; and upload all the files for a website at one time, even if I've been adding them to the site periodically. This makes sure that the site has the most current versions of the pages when you launch.
Some people feel that they don’t need to do marketing for their website. But if you want people to visit, there are many ways to get the word out, and you don’t have to spend a lot of money.
The most common way to get people to a website is through SEO or search engine optimization. This relies on organic search results and by optimizing your site for search, you help more readers find you. I offer a free SEO class to help you get started.
9. And Finally You Will Need to MAINTAIN Your Website
The best websites are changing all the time. The owners pay attention to them and add new content as well as keeping the existing content up-to-date. Plus, eventually you will probably want to do a redesign, to keep the design up-to-date as well.
The important parts of maintenance are:
- Link checking – fixing broken links is tedious, but it needs to be done. The easiest way is with a link checker.
- Content maintenance – you should be adding updates to your website all the time. This is why blogs are so important, as they make it easy to add new content. You should also be re-reading existing content periodically, and updating old pieces.
- Redesigns – While it’s much better to do iterative design and just keep improving your site with little changes, redesigns are an important part of maintenance. If you decide to do a major redesign, you should start over with the steps in this process to make sure your redesign is as good as your initial design.