Developing a good website starts before you write the first line of code, or even before you get the domain. Careful planning at the start will save you from expensive problems or a poor performing website. There are eight things that all websites need at the start, and here they are.
A clear domain
A domain is the URL of your website, specifically the part before the last dot. In www.google.com, the domain is google. Domain names need to be easy to spell, easy to remember, and easy to say. Shorter is usually better, but it’s hard to find a short name these days. The average length is 12-14 characters and uses two words.
A commercial website must have stable hosting. If your website goes down, you lose business and reputation. It must also be able to handle the traffic you expect to get. Setting up your own server is usually a bad idea unless you really know what you’re doing. Go with a trusted hosting service and pay the monthly fee.
As part of your hosting, you should purchase security (SSL or TLS) as part of your package. Not only will this show customers that they can give you financial information safely, it will also give you a boost in search engine rankings. Google is pushing hard to make the entire web use secure internet protocols.
A good CMS
The days of coding pages by hand from scratch for a business are long gone. Content management systems (CMS) like WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla now run most e-commerce sites. Using a CMS will make it far easier to update your website, perform SEO tasks, and make your site look beautiful and functional.
Clean navigation and design
The user interface of a website is noticed even before the information is read. We use things like headers and navigation bars to orient our eyes before we start reading. If your site is frustrating to navigate or makes it hard to access wanted information then you will lose visitors.
Core info is easy to reach
There are certain things that a visitor wants to find with zero problems. It’s the same information you’d put into a phone book ad. People want to know who you are, what you do, and how to contact you. All of this information must be easy to find. If these basics are missing, you’ll lose customers.
If you are running a business website, you will need analytics to track how well your site is doing over time. If you do any sort of marketing, analytics will tell you how well it performs. Get your site hooked up to the analytics package of your choice first thing. Google Analytics is the most common and it’s free with a Google account.
An editorial calendar
Websites are not billboards. They need to receive updates every so often to remain fresh in the minds of search engines and visitors. Setting up an editorial calendar for SEO audits, content updates, CMS upgrades, and other website maintenance tasks will help keep your site in tip-top shape.
These eight things are the foundation of a quality website. If you get these in place, your website will be a support for your business instead of a hindrance.