One of the areas within the scope of what we do as e-Marketing consultants and content marketers includes creating digital platforms that can be classified as living extensions and representations of the clients and brands we work with: aka websites.
- project managed and co-created websites from scratch;
- updated outdated websites; made recommendations on the content and design of existing websites as part of our digital strategy service;
- (discreetly) shrugged our shoulders and rolled our eyes at ‘do-it-yourself-websites’; and
- cried actual tears during the tedious process of launching websites
We live in an age where anybody, given enough time (to watch endless online tutorials), resolve and tenure (think late nights and copious amounts of coffee) can indeed create and launch their own websites, but at what cost?
Many of our clients have had to learn the hard way: Free isn’t always the best option.
So, we urge you: Have a look at the following (by no means exhaustive) list of essential elements before embarking on the journey of creating what is supposed to be a professional reflection of your brand and/or product offering.
Wind: the resolve to get it done
Congratulations! You’ve launched your business and you feel you are ready to get started on your website. We could not be more excited for you.
Let us however just start with this tiny disclaimer: getting a website off the ground requires passion, energy and a certain measure of resolve. You will need a relentless will to stay buoyant throughout the process, because some days you will struggle to feel a breeze of excitement, while others may leave you feeling like a leaf squashed against a window by gale force winds. However, once you see the end-result, your website may just become the wind beneath your proverbial bottom-line wings.
Earth: the foundations
Choosing service providers: This may come as a shock, but not all web developers are created equal. Some can custom code and design websites, whilst others only work with website templates (such as WordPress), and only but a handful also have the ability to create a website that actually communicates with your clients through adequately written content (copy) and can apply search engine optimisation (SEO) principles so your website can be found on Google..
We are not saying such allrounders do not exist, but just be wary of ‘’too good to be true website offerings’’ that promise all-inclusive packages at very low rates. They may be good coders and designers, but make sure they also have a dedicated copywriter (who understands SEO and the principles for online copywriting), and editor for creating your content.
Domain registration and hosting: Your chosen web developer will register your website domain (e.g.: www.joepublic.com) and set up your hosting (we always recommend Hetzner for hosting purposes in South Africa). Hosting packages are usually charged per month and includes email accounts (e.g.: firstname.lastname@example.org), unlimited traffic (to your website) and all-SSD storage space (for storing and backing up your website and email account files).
Water: the content and design
The content for your website is a huge component and can be a very daunting task. Contrary to popular conceptions, content does not only consist of copy (and copy is certainly not merely a case of duplicating what you have used for your brochure onto your website).
Content creation for your website should include:
- your corporate branding (which should be guided by your corporate identity): if you don’t have a corporate identity, please STOP everything and consider commissioning one BEFORE proceeding with any marketing-related material for your company). This includes but is not limited to: your logo; corporate colours and fonts; brand values; tone of voice; as well as preferred style and image direction;
- a sitemap (menu structure) and relevant sub-categories (for drop-down menu items);
- researching and deciding on authentic and unique images and/or visuals to accompany each page or service;
- creative copy and calls to action for homepage banners (that also need to link to other relevant pages on your website);
- meta tags and keywords for the website’s back-end (theSEO we spoke about earlier)
- once your website is live, you will also need to update the content regularly if you wish for your site to rank well (over time) in searches (blogging is a good strategy for this purpose).
Most web designers will require your corporate branding and homepage copy (which includes the aforementioned menu structure) to commence with a prototype of your landing page design. This design is used as the benchmark to establish the preferred look and feel for your website. It is also the first impression you will leave with any visitor. If it doesn’t sell you in 30 seconds, you are already off to a bad start. Depending on the service provider, they may present one or two possible variations for approval.
Once this is finalised, they can commence with the design and development of the rest of the website (based on the content) and adding special features and functionality.
Fire: maintaining and marketing your website
Once the above process of planning for and launching your website is finalised – which can take anything between 6 to 8 weeks (or longer, depending on the scope and size of your website) – the REAL work starts, and answering the following questions are important:
- How will people KNOW about my website?
- How will I drive traffic to my website and secure business/an income from it?
- Will I have the time and resources to set up and manage social media platforms (to help create awareness, improve SEO and drive traffic to my website)?
- Will I be able to make regular back-ups and install software updates for my website?
- Can I commit to writing and uploading at least one blog article (and relevant image) per month to my website?
- Will I be able to navigate the back-end of my website sufficiently to make relevant content updates and will I have the time to do this?
Website project management: combining the elements
At EB Consulting, we have keen insight into the holistic process of developing and launching websites. We take a partnership approach in guiding our clients through every required step and essential elements for launching a website that works.