Planning Websites That Work

How well you plan will have tremendous impact on how your new web site will look, function and “feel,” how completely it will meet your needs and expectations, and how much it will cost!

  • There is much you can do to reduce the total cost of your site.

    By planning thoroughly and providing the information needed in the proper format, you can greatly facilitate the building of your site to your expectations. This will save you time, money AND frustration!

    Ask yourself these questions…

    • What is my web site’s purpose? Will you be creating an information based site for clients and customers, or will you be selling products or services online?
    • How can a web site help my business?
      • Provide the most cost-effective advertising 24/7;
      • increase revenue by selling goods and/or services online;
      • provide useful information to customers and/or employees;
      • enhance customer service and communication;
      • enhance your company’s pro-active image.
    • What do I want to achieve with my website? Whether it’s selling online, broadening your customer base, providing better customer service – whatever you want to achieve, try to clearly define your goals and your target market before you start.
    • What is my budget for a web site? Can I accomplish my goals within my budget? How much your web site will cost will depend on what you want to achieve with it. Like anything else, you get what you pay for. A basic professionally designed 10-page business website is likely to cost $1000-$2500 to design, plus promotional costs.
    • Do I need e-commerce on my website? If so, do I need a full shopping cart, or will a secure order form suffice? If you plan to sell a product or service online, then yes, you’ll need appropriate e-commerce features. If you have just a few products or services, chances are a simple secure order form will suffice and will be the least expensive. On the other hand, if you have many products or services, then you may be better off with a full shopping cart setup.

    First Website Planning Decisions

    • Register a Domain Name. (ie: www.yourname.com) If you are serious about your web site, get your own domain. Using free web space and a subdomain for your business (i.e., aol.hometown.com/yourbiz) looks unprofessional and people aren’t likely to take your web site seriously. Choosing a keyword loaded domain name will help your promotion.
    • Select a Host. You will need to have a hosting service to host your new web site on the Internet. There are many host services available. Make sure the one you choose has Multiple Fast Fiber Optic OC-3 (155 megabit/second) Connections and multiple redundancy backup. Hosting for most business sites starts at $20-$25/month, depending on what features you need.
    • Do your homework. Make a list of the Top 20 key words that come to mind when searching for a site like yours. Now, using various search engines, do a number of searches using those keywords. Bookmark the sites that come up in the top 5 positions when the key words you have used result in a number of related listings. Review these high ranking listings carefully for more key words, as well as ideas for your site’s content and layout.

    • Plan your web site’s pages. First plan your home page, where you can give an overview of what your site has to offer. Try to get at least 400 words of relevant, key word loaded text on each page wherever possible. Now plan your other pages, and their titles, such as “About Us”, “Products”, “Services”, “Contact”, “FAQ”, etc.
    • Compose your text content. If you plan to hire a professional designer, you will be expected to provide all text content in WordPad or Microsoft Word via either email, floppy disk, or CD. If your text is handwritten and/or is provided by fax or mail and must be keyed in, there will necessarily be additional typing charges. If you’d like some resources to help you compose good content, How To Write Powerful Marketing Copy That Explodes Your Response has some good pointers, as does Search Engine Rules of the Road.
    • Provide copies of your company logo, letterhead (hard copy or digital format) brochures, catalog, photos, graphics, etc. All graphics should be labeled and clearly indicated where they are to be inserted on your pages.
    • Decide on any custom graphics or advanced programming required for your site: Logo, Shopping Cart, Site-Map, Guestbook, Links to Related Sites, Sound or Music, Animation, Forms, Autoresponders, Password Protection, Bulletin Boards, Database.