When you ask your web developer to build you a website, you may wonder what they actually do?
This little post at the very end of the year details the steps we go through at Swan Developments when we start to create a sparkly new website.
You can undertake some of this work yourself, which saves us time and you money.
1. Thinking it through
OK this sounds a bit simple, surely it has already been thought through otherwise you wouldn’t be asking for it to be built, would you? Well, when you are about to start creating anything, we feel it is useful to think through the entire process of building your site first, writing down all the steps we are going to take.
We also write down the bits that others are going to do for us, for example, if we are using a copy writer, we make sure that we won’t get to the point of cut and paste to find the copy writer isn’t ready. It’s surprising how many projects get started without this common sense step taking place.
“Don’t you mean design a layout?” I hear you ask. 99% of all websites need to be largely the same at this level of abstraction; header, first level navigation, sidebar, second level navigation, page contents and footer.
The decisions are:-
- horizontal or vertical navigation
- sidebar or no sidebar
- what is going in the header
Fundamentally your website will probably need all of these elements and unless you want something very unusual, they will be in very well defined locations.
3. Create the chrome
We build websites using WordPress as a content management system (CMS) so the posts and pages are stored in a database. The way the site looks can be changed in an instant by applying a WordPress theme. Like the chrome on a car, it isn’t needed for the function of the thing, but it does make the site look distinctive.
Stock WordPress themes are good, but you might see many other websites which look like copies of yours. We design all our themes so that they are unique to each customer. You won’t find another website that looks just like yours, if you do, they have stolen your design!
In order to give your site that bespoke feeling, the following four points need your crucial input!
All websites need a unique colour scheme and we have the perfect tool to help you find one.
Visit kuler.adobe.com and start playing. Upload a photo you like using the camera icon top right or pick a base colour, say from a paint swatch. If you sign up for a free Adobe id, you can save your scheme and share it with our web designer.
3.2 Pick your fonts
Only a very short while ago your choice of font was Arial or Times New Roman unless you wanted to generate loads of images to use instead of text and search engines hated that. Today there are literally thousands of fonts which can be used on websites to style your text.
We like to choose two fonts; one for headings and one for body text. This website uses Bitter for the headings and Source Sans Pro for the body text. Google web fonts is the place to start. Whichever ones you choose, view them in various sizes and with samples of the text you plan to have on your website.
If you have a company logo it’s a sure fire bet you will want it front and centre of every page of your website. If you don’t have a logo, you could choose not to use one and perhaps consider having your organisation’s name in your heading font on your top banner.
You can create a simple logo yourself or we can help you find a designer to create something distinctive for you.
3.4 Content is king
You can write your own copy, you know your business better than anyone and you know at least something about your customers, both existing and potential. However, creating the right copy for your website is an art and having bad copy is likely to send your potential customers elsewhere.
Understanding why your customers are visiting your website is the place to start. The copy writer’s job is to deliver the information they need accurately, concisely and completely. They will also ensure it contains the best terms to help search engines find your site.
Money invested in getting your copy perfect will certainly pay dividends.
By now we will have everything needed to build your new website. The copy will have been agreed by you, the graphic elements will have been created in all the right sizes and the theme files will have been created.
We will install all the technical bits and pieces on an eco-friendly server and set up analytics to measure the visitors to your website and to analyse what they do.
We also install and configure a whole bunch of WordPress Plugins which are funky little add-ons that make your site shine. Some of our favourites include the sitemap generators, slide show makers, post and page editors and cookie controls that keep your site up to date and compliant with European law.
5. Testing times
Visitors will use a wide variety of hardware to view your website, doing so on anything from a tiny screen mobile phone to an 84″ televison. We ensure your site looks its best at all times by testing it extensively and checking it can be viewed correctly via each of the major web browsers too.
We run your site through the W3C Validator to ensure it complies with all the latest standards and run our link checker to be certain that every link works. We make sure all the latest updates are installed and if you decide to let us host your website too, we’ll keep it up to date with every bug-fix, security update and feature upgrade as standard.
Finally, to wrap everything up and to thank you for your business, we also arrange for a tree to be planted in Kenya to offset the small amount of CO2 generated over the lifetime of your website.
If you’d like to step into the New Year with a fabulous new website, we’d love to hear from you!