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15 March 2011

Marketing

Technicalities to Consider When Building Your Website - Part Two

When it comes to creating a website there are plenty of things you need to consider. It's a mine field of technical jargon. In a previous Top Tip we outlined the various areas of development. In this second article I want to try and make it easier for people intending to build a website.

A good plan can be the only way you meet your budget and your deadline. So, why don't people always have a specific plan and what sort of things do you need to bear in mind?

Our FDC developers, Chris Emerson and Kevin Rivers, came up with some ideas"¦

What features are necessary and which ones are just desirable?

When clients come to us with their specification, in some cases it is as broad as: 'I want a website the same as"¦', or, 'I want my web to challenge...' and when this is stated the features which other websites have, and the costs, are not considered by clients.

When a plan is drawn up it's important to state what you want the website to do. The features that are necessities are the only ones that need to be considered. A feature can range from a search bar to e-commerce capabilities, they vary in price and time spent developing them, but it's a good idea to stick to your initial plan of features and make a decision in the first meeting. That way, the developers and designers know what they need to do and shouldn't have any problems meeting your deadline once your website has gone into development.

Define a process - what do you want your users to see?

The way users see your website is probably the most important part to your website. A website that makes users interested and happy spending time on it, could be the difference between a sale and a customer leaving your site.

Once a customer arrives at your website, what do they see and where do they go? This can be answered by creating a 'storyboard' for visitors to your site. A map through the website so it is easily navigable for visitors and potential customers - does the website look different for users that have logged in? Simple things like this can be useful when creating a plan.

If you want to make your customers feel instantly important; changing the way a website looks once a user has logged in can be a simple answer to this - but it needs to be specified in the plan.

Where should your images come from?

An important feature that is surrounded by doubt is what images you can use and what images you can't. In reality, if you just take an image from somewhere else you can be breaching copyright laws. Never use other websites or Google for the images on your site as this can lead to huge problems in the future. Instead, in your plan, specify where you will get your images from.

Depending on the client, images differ - in some cases they have to be bespoke to the client and in other cases they can be more generic. No matter what the situation you have to outline where your images will be sourced from.

Will you take your own images? If you are going to source stock photographs, how much will the budget be? Or will you be hiring a photographer to take some images for you?

In cases where clients want photographs of the office, it sometimes can be best for them to hire third party photographers who will take professional images.

It needs to be included in the plan, as once the website goes into development it can be time-consuming and ultimately expensive to implement images. It's a good idea to plan for your images from the off.

Implications of changes

It's important to understand how costly changes will be once your website goes into development. Everything should have already been considered, and if you decide that you definitely need something incorporated into your website then you have to take the budget and delay into account.

You initial plan is the most important thing. If you aren't honest and are not happy with every part of your specification you need to speak up and make your changes noted from the beginning. If you want an extra feature once the website has gone into development you have to accept it will take around four hours' work which has to be scheduled in and ultimately will cost you more money.

So, make sure you have specified everything, and if you are sure something needs to be added later you have to accept the costs and time delay.

How are you going to bring people to your site?

Sometimes people create a lovely website but then haven't thought about how they are going to advertise and bring traffic to the site. There is no point having a professional website but no marketing plan.

Once a website's live it's important to get involved with software like Google Analytics, this is a free service which you can log on to and analyse your website traffic easily. Also, search engine optimisation is an important idea that needs to be considered as being search engine savvy can really increase your website traffic.

If you have any queries about these services please speak to the team at FDC.

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