Oregon Web Design
My Website Design Process
I. Identify Your Goals
During our initial discussions about your website, I'll try to determine your answers to the following questions:
+ What do you hope to accomplish with your website? Is it essentially an online business card, to be used as a reference for people you've already met in person or spoken to over the phone? Do you hope it will bring in some additional business and new leads? Is your website your sole revenue model? Depending on your answer, I'll recommend different strategies both for what the site should look like and how it should be marketed.
+ Who are your customers? Are they Local / Regional / National / International? What kind of language will be most effective? Do we need to target different stages of the buying process? Again, this will help focus your marketing strategy, not only in terms of design sensibility, but in keyword research, and how the site should be structured.
+ What kind of look are you shooting for? Should it be flashy and slick? Retro? Simple? Fancy? What do other sites in your niche say about themselves?
+ Should your site have any special features? Should we integrate Google Maps, Calendar, or a Custom Search Engine? Do you have the energy and motivation to blog? Are there are other ways to engage your audience?
II. Competitive Analysis; Keyword Research
In addition to your own goals, it's important to know what your competition is doing prior to getting started.
+ What do other sites in your industry look like? Can they be improved upon? Are there particularly successful components that we should adopt for your site? Do they all have fatal weaknesses? In most cases, you won't need to re-invent the wheel, but we'll need to find a way to be unique and stand out.
+ What keywords should you target? What keywords are your competitors targeting? Are they missing the boat on the most lucrative terms? Will your site be "powerful" enough to outrank them, or should we aim for a "longer tail" or a different set altogether?
III. Site Architecture
Effective site architecture is one of the most underrated online marketing techniques that small business websites have at their disposal. Your site should be easy to navigate, be arranged in a logical fashion, and laid out to generate the maximum number of conversions. We'll discuss your most important content areas, and how to get visitors to that content in the shortest amount of time. We'll identify which pieces of content are likely to garner the highest search engine rankings, and I'll use a combination of on-page SEO strategies--in particular, properly targeted Title Tags and internal anchor text--to get those pages ranking well.
And we'll also talk about your maintenance needs at this stage of the process--how often you intend to update your content, whether someone on your staff knows enough HTML to make changes, or whether it makes financial sense to set you up with a content management system.
IV. Website Design Wireframes + Mockups
I'll ask you to provide me with a set of website designs that you like the look of. They can be any industry, not just yours. Then, I'll brainstorm layouts and color schemes. I'll create a series of 3-4 mockups of a homepage and similarly-themed subpage. We'll discuss this series, and choose one of the themes to revise and refine into the final version.
V. Website Design Revisions
After we've settled on the direction your design will take, I'll make the revisions and code a prototype so that you can get a sense of how the site will look in an actual web browser. We'll go over any bugs or last-minute changes, and then it's onto...
VI. Coding + Development
The meat of the process. Depending on the size of your site, this could take as little as a few hours or as many as a few weeks. If you're adding a blog, using a CMS, Flash Animation, etc., that will all be created during this stage.
We'll go through your site + look for broken links, alignment troubles, any copy that might need revision, etc.
VIII. Launch; Initial Linkbuilding; Local SEO
Once we're sure everything is working properly, we'll launch your site! I'll make recommendations for any PR efforts you might make surrounding your launch, as well as source some links for you in targeted directories and related websites that cover your niche. I'll also submit your website to the key Local search engines and verify your company data with appropriate providers.
IX. Ongoing Community Engagement; Analytics
Itís critical for long-term online success that you are an active member of your community, both locally and in your industry worldwide.
Read industry or geo-focused blogs. Make insightful comments on blogs you enjoy reading. Write blog articles about emerging or un-publicized topics in your industry or region. Either syndicate them on other popular blogs and content sites (with a byline that includes a link to your website, of course) or publish them on your own blog. I'll make some initial recommendations to get you started.
You can also engage your customers more directly. Donít forget about capturing customer email addresses and marketing to your subscriber list, and donít hesitate to ask for customers to review your business on the Local search engines and other sites like CitySearch and InsiderPages.
And after your site has been live for a few months, it's a good idea to check the data about the traffic you are bringing into your website: where it's coming from, what content people are finding interesting, and how many sales leads you are generating.