New website checklist: Step-by-step guide to building and launching a new website (part 1 of 3)
Building and launching a new website can seem like a daunting task, especially if you’re not an expert in web development. That’s where our website build checklist comes in – whether you’re building a site yourself or working with an agency, we’ve broken the process down into simple steps to help you on your way to a successful launch.
This blog is the first of a three-part series to help you plan and build a website that works hard for your business. We’re kicking off with the first stage, which involves planning and mapping out your objectives for your new website.
Stage One: Analysis and planning
The process of building a website actually starts weeks or even months before the first page is built – because the key to a successful web build project is planning. There’s lots to consider, from your goals to your budget, before you start building.
1. Crawl and analyse your current website
The first thing to consider is your current web presence – do you have a functioning website? What platform is it built on? What issues have led you to consider a new website?
2. Think about your objectives
Your website should be a tool to help your business achieve your objectives – so what are they? Take the time to think through your business and marketing goals, and how you see a website helping to reach them.
3. Consider the user journey and marketing funnel
This step goes hand in hand with planning your objectives. Depending on your business, there are various touchpoints where the customer can interact with you. Think about where your website fits into the customer journey – do you want to sell products directly on your site, or perhaps generate leads for your sales team to follow up?
Next, think about how you’ll drive people to your website. Do you plan to use online advertising like PPC and social media, or traditional methods like TV and radio? All these factors have an impact on how a website is designed and built, and what journey you want your customers to take.
4. Identify key functionality
Now you’ve done your big picture planning, it’s time to get down to the nuts and bolts. What functions will help your business? Do you need an all-singing, all-dancing e-commerce experience with account creation, online sales and inventory management built in? Maybe you just need a simple contact form to allow customers to get in touch with you. Either way, considering what your website needs to do will help when selecting which platform to build it on.
5. Determine budget
When it comes to budget, this often involves a bit of give and take. Generally, the more complex the website, the higher the cost. By now, you should have an idea of the functionality you need, and the place that your website has in your overall marketing strategy.
An e-commerce site will almost always cost more to build than a brochure site, simply because it’s more complex and takes more time. You might find that you have to make some compromises to build a site within your budget – but you should always make sure that the key functionalities can be delivered. The most important part of the process is to make sure your new site serves your business objectives.
6. Plan your site structure
Before you start building, you’ll need an idea of what pages you’d like on your website, and how they should link together. It often helps to map this out in a tree structure, so you can see the hierarchy of the site.
7. Compare content management systems
This is one of the most important choices to make in the website build process. Your content management system will dictate the style and structure of your site as well as the available functionality and ease of maintenance.
For those with a limited budget, there are many easy-to-use options offering templates to help you build and manage blocks of content. Squarespace and WordPress are two of the most well-known; and, if you need an easy e-commerce solution, Shopify is the market leader for a reason.
If you’re looking for something more unique, you can engage an agency to build a bespoke site. At Whitewall we build bespoke WordPress sites, which means we have the scope to create websites with custom designs and complex functionality, while keeping the easy-to-use interface for our clients.
8 – 9. Choose a domain and hosting package
Depending on the CMS you choose, you might have these built in. If not, you’ll need to purchase a domain and hosting package separately. If you already have an active website, you’ll be able to switch your domain and hosting to the new site when you go live.
By this stage, you should have made some key decisions about what you want your new website to achieve and how you want users to interact with your business. Although you may be itching to get started, it’s important not to skip these valuable steps.
Now you’re ready to crack on with the exciting stuff! Next up is designing and building your new website.
If you haven’t already, download our new website checklist to help you keep track of where you are in the process. At Whitewall, we build all kinds of websites – from simple templates to complex bespoke builds.
Feel free to get in touch for a chat about your new website!