Working With You
So, you want to get online*. Great decision! But let me guess, you have no idea where or how to start… Don't worry, not many people do! (*=And when I refer to "you" throughout this page, I mean you / your business / your community organisation / your charity etc.)
It's All About You!
First things first – this is your site! I will guide you from start to finish through the planning and design process, but ultimately you will have the final say in how your website functions – after all, it's your website, not mine!
There are several important questions you need to ask yourself in order to start planning your website.
What is the purpose of your website?
Now that you've made the decision that you want a website, you need to ask yourself exactly why you want it. All websites have differing purposes, but ultimately they fall into one or more of the following categories:
- To provide factual information on your product/service
- To generate online sales
- To generate leads for offline sales
- To encourage online and offline donations
- To publish opinions on your specialist subject
- To record your activities for likeminded visitors to share in
It is important to decide which of these categories forms the primary purpose of your website, as this will help to inform the structure of your site.
Who is your target audience?
OK – I know at the top of this page I said "it's all about you"… well, that's not strictly true. The most successful sites are the sites that are written to serve the people who will be using them, not the sites that are simply an exercise in blowing one's own trumpet.
The content on your website should be geared towards serving the visitors to your site at all times so leave vanity at the door! Of course, you can still have an "About Us" page for that little bit of self-indulgent trumpet-blowing, but keep visitor-targeted information at the forefront of your mind for the rest of the site.
First things first. Before you can write copy for them, you need to identify your target audience – this is where you need to think back to the purpose of your site – and then create content that is going to induce them into using your site in the way you intended.
If your purpose is to generate online sales, you need to put two hats on; the first (and more important) of the two hats is your potential customer hat, the second hat is your salesperson hat. Firstly, ask yourself "What would you, as a potential customer, like to find on this site that would convince you to buy?" Then, ask yourself "If I were a salesperson, how would I describe the benefits and features of this product to make a sale?"
Alternatively, if your purpose is to provide factual information on your product or service, then think about the kind of questions you are asked about your product/service most often in the real world, as they'll be the very same questions that visitors want the answers to online as well!
If you decide to go ahead and work with me on your website, I have a whole host of tips on copy-writing for the web – and remember, in my other job, I am a marketing officer so I am very experienced at editing and proofing copy, and so if you need some help, I'm always here!
Have you got a domain name?
(And if not, have you thought about what domain name you'd like?)
A domain name is the address that defines your site on the internet (for example the domain name for this website is www.mackaywebdesign.co.uk); a domain name can match your business name, but it doesn't always have to. In fact, there are times when it's better to go with a more descriptive domain relating to your product or industry.
I'll use a fictitious cake shop in Ayr as an example; let's say the business is named after the owner – Dave's Delicious Delights. If someone in Ayr was searching online for a cake supplier without already knowing the existence of that business, they're more likely to type something like "Cakes in Ayr" into a search engine.
Although search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques can be used to incorporate as many keywords relating to your product as is feasible within the content of the website, it helps if the keywords of your product are in your domain name too, thus, a domain name like www.ayrshirecakes.co.uk may be the best option for improving SEO for Dave's Delicious Delights.
Furthermore, if 90% of Dave's Delicious Delight's business comes from designing delightfully decorated (and delicious!) wedding cakes then something like www.ayrshireweddingcakes.co.uk may well be the best option. Get the idea?!
Think of a few possibilities, and then we can see if they are available to buy!
What is your annual budget for the site?
Although there is the initial cost of design associated with setting up a website, you must also be prepared for annual running costs to pay for web space and your domain name. Depending on the size of your site, these costs can range from around £35 + VAT/year to £100 + VAT/year. I tend to do most of my hosting through a Glasgow-based hosting company called easyspace, who are very reasonable with their pricing and also offer excellent service and up-time.
Do you want to know who's visiting your website?
You probably haven't thought about this yet, but at some point along this marvellous online journey, you are (or someone in your company is) is going to ponder this very question… and I'll be able to give you the answers! Google provide a service to webmasters called Google Analytics – it basically involves an "urchin" being included within the code of each page on your website. As visitors arrive, navigate through and leave your website, their progress is tracked and lots of general statistical information is gathered! The result is lots of lovely data on your visitors, including numbers of visitors (and repeat visitors), numbers of pages viewed, location of visitors, how they arrived to your site, and what they typed into the search engines to find you... amongst many, many other things! Google analytics is set up on all of my websites as standard.
Mackay Web Design's promise to you
Jargon. The web is full of it. And when you're new to the world of website creation there's nothing worse than some know-it-all using words and phrases you've never even heard of, never mind understand what they mean.
But here's something refreshing – I promise to use as little website jargon as is possible!
When working with you on your site I will keep the technical talk as simple as I can, not because I think you can't cope with the jargon, but because the vast majority of the time it's simply unnecessary!
And what's more, I've created a Jargon Buster to explain in plain English what a lot of these terms mean, so that if I do use inadvertently use them, you know what I'm on about!
The next step…
OK. So at the top of this page, you'd already made the decision that you want a website. Hopefully, after reading this, your mind is now churning away thinking about the purpose of your site, thinking who your target audience is and how you're going to talk to them, and wondering what your domain name is going to be…
"What next?!" I hear you cry!
Well, that's the easy bit – simply click the link to make that initial contact and kick start your web design journey!