Planing your website will save you money, time and get you the website you want. Without the bricks (layout, content, photo’s etc) the web design agency can’t build your website successfully. Provide them the material and you will have more control over the web project.
One of the best ways to help your website get off the ground is by creating sitemap that show the pages you want on the site and how they link together. I suggest using Microsoft organisational chart which you can find in Word, PowerPoint and Excel. Also check out Gliffy, a free online orgaisational chart.
Some of the pages you may wish to include are Homepage, Portfolio, Client testimonials, Company background, Staff bios, Terms & conditions, Contact us, sitemap, products and services.
You should supply a list of websites that you see as competition and write what you like and don’t like about the sites. Also include websites outside your market, you don’t always need to follow the crowd.
Search Engine Optimisation Strategy
Before you start writing the bulk of the content you need to start thinking about the search engines, i.e. getting your website listed as far up the search pages as possible. You should try putting yourself into the shoes of someone trying to find a service that you offer. What words would they type into Google or Yahoo? Now obviously the competition on internet is enormous and you shouldn’t try be number one unless you’re in unique market or you have a rather large budget. So with this in mind think about local searches, for example we are on the first page of Google for Edinburgh Computer Services, but on the 11th page for Computer Services. Another thing to consider is a term called long tail searches. One of our clients, Clutch and Clasp sells designer handbags. Do a search for designer handbags and you won’t find the website. Do a search for Luella kelsey handbag and they are number one. In the next section I’ll mention a couple of websites that will help you with choosing keywords and search terms, and show the popularity of them.
More information on Search Engine Optimisation
Keywords and Website description
Although many will tell you that keywords and website description, known as Meta Tags isn’t important anymore. I was recently told by a specialist in this sector that you should pay attention to them. Meta tags are divided into two sections, description which is a small summary of the website, usually no longer than two sentences. The second part is 5 to 10 keywords that describe the website. These two elements are hidden when you visit a website but seen by the search engines.
<meta name="description" content="terinea provide a range of computer technology
and internet services for business and domestic users">
<meta name="keywords" content="edinburgh computer
services business information technology internet">
You could also go the extra mile and have different Meta tags for each page of your website.
Websites that listing keywords and their popularity
http://www.wordtracker.com - Paid for service
Content, Content, Content
The content for website is what delays most web projects. At the end of the day you understand your business the best, not the web design agency. They can help you with what they feel should be on the site, how it is best layed out for search engines and useabiltiy etc. Again I suggest using Microsoft Word or any other word processor. Things you should include are links to other pages, headings, sub-headings, tables and photo’s etc. When writing the content make sure you don’t over use keywords, search engines like keywords but they also like content that is designed for humans, not machines.
Find photo’s you would like to have on the website from sources such as flickr, SXC, and Stockxpert. These may help to form a design for your website and help the web designer with the vision you have for the site. If you have existing photos for your business send the originals or betters still start on flickr account. I’ve talked about this in the past too, see link below. Sending images from the existing website is no good unless they are high quality. At the end of the project you should ask the web design agency for CD/DVD of all the images and webpages.
If your web design agency is also producing the branding for the site, i.e. logo, colours, fonts and styling etc it would also be advantageous to give them examples of styles you like.
If you have different company providing the logo and branding, make sure the web design agency gets all material that you receive. Otherwise your nicely design logo’s might not match the colours used on the website.
If you feel that your website will incorporated a blog or it is a blog in itself, then why not start now. WordPress is an excellent place to start because it can easily be imported to other systems or hosted on your own website.
Once your website is live I suggest submitting your website to as many web directories as possible. I’ve included a post I did earlier in the year with business directories. You should also search for directories related to your business sector.
Promoting Your New Web Site