Here’s a description of a typical website design project to give you an idea of the steps involved in the creation of a new website. Revamping an old website would go through a similar process.
I meet with you either face-to-face or by phone to discuss your business and your goals from a website. If you already have a website, we clarify what you want from a redesign. The goal of this meeting is to come to a mutual understanding of the scope of the project, and what is required and desired. Hopefully it will be a meeting of minds and an opportunity to start building a good working partnership.
I then put together a written proposal with a price for building the new website. Before I invest the time into doing that, however, we’ll need to discuss your budget. If you are operating on a shoestring, and if you are comfortable using online applications and can develop your own images and written content, I can steer you in the direction of some free and cheap alternatives and provide consulting regarding effective presentation, SEO and other aspects you need help with.
(I am already doing a lot of pro bono work and am not able to accept any more.)
Once you have approved the proposal and we’ve signed a contract, you’ll send me whatever materials you have – logo, brochures, photographs, written copy, etc.
Creating the draft website
Design and content are to some degree dependent on each other, especially on the main pages of a website, but the deeper content can generally be organized independently of the design. How we proceed depends on the situation – who is writing the content, how the design will reflect the content, the chosen theme structure (assuming we’re using WordPress), etc.
You will be asked for your feedback at various stages and through several iterations until we are both satisfied.
The design must work in all browsers commonly in use and adjust to, or have a version for, mobile devices.
The website architecture and navigation system must it easy for users to find the information they are looking for.
I will set up the draft site on a test location for you to review. At a certain point in the process, you are encouraged to have employees, friends and relatives look at it at this stage and make suggestions.
Search engine optimization (SEO)
I optimize for search engines in a natural way as we build the site. This includes identifying keywords and key phrases with you as well as through using other tools, copy editing to incorporate keywords and phrases and/or advising you on how to do so, building meta tags, and so on. The goal is for people looking for your services to be able to find you on search engines.
With a few adjustments, WordPress’s structure is very search engine friendly out of the box. Specialized tools help us refine our efforts. But it’s all about having good content, and enough content.
We only use acceptable techniques of search engine optimization, not ones that could get your site banned for spamming.
Publishing your website
Your website can be hosted on my server or on your own independent hosting package.
Search engine submission and site promotion
Ten or fifteen years ago, regular search engine submission was a big deal. No longer. The search engines will find your website unless you intentionally keep them out.
WordPress is very search engine friendly “right out of the box.” If you will be adding content to your site on an ongoing basis, I can instruct you in things that can be done to enhance your site’s presentation to search engines.
Aggressive link building campaigns bit the dust in 2013. We still want links to come into our websites, but they should be natural and appropriate.
I advise clients to do research online to find business directories specifically related to their business, and submit their sites.
Social media integration
Using social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+ and YouTube, as appropriate, has become an important way to engage with people who are interested in what you do.
In fact, it works hand in hand with your Search Engine Optimization (SEO), as it multiplies your visibility to both people and search engines.
Most of your social networking activity is best done by you or an employee on an ongoing basis, but I can help you learn the ropes.
You don’t need to do them all – in fact, you should choose what you will use and concentrate on that.
Sharing buttons, “Like boxes” and feeds can be incorporated into the website itself as desired.
Analytics and monitoring
I install Google Analytics on all websites so that we can keep track of your site’s traffic. You can have free access to the stats, or I can make reports upon request.
I also use Webmaster Tools to monitor your site, identify any problems, and learn about the search terms people are using when your site comes up in search engine results.
As the site is being built. I edit text for grammar, spelling and good “web style,” and check all internal and external links to make sure that they work. I make sure all images are optimized for the web so that they look good and download quickly. I take great care to ensure that your website is professional.
I provide a responsive and timely update and addition service. Depending on your needs, we can set up a maintenance contract, or charge you straight time at my current rate in quarter-hour increments.
To update your site, all I need is an e-mail from you with your requested changes.
Doing it yourself
If you would like to be involved in editing or adding your own content, I can set you up and train you to do so.
WordPress is one of the easier content management systems for site owners to learn to edit – which is one reason I choose to use it.
Note that the cost-effectiveness of updating the site yourself depends on the frequency of updates and your computer literacy. If you forget how to do it from one time to the next, and if your time is otherwise valuable, you might as well pay someone and have it get done in a timely fashion!
Ownership and copyright
If you want to work with another web designer in the future, I will cooperate in the transfer and only charge you for the time required to do so.
The next step
I am no longer taking on new clients.