If you have ever undertaken the monumental task of building your dream house – or even “just” renovating one (or part of one) to become your dream house – you know that it always takes a lot longer than anticipated. Even the best plan can’t take everything into account, whether it’s your contractor coming down with the flu or the wrong granite being shipped.
Well, building the perfect website of your dreams – one that is beautiful, high-quality, and lead-generating – is very similar: it’s a complicated process and involves many moving parts. Though you may want it up and running in less than a month, I guarantee you that it will take longer than that.
That’s because a typical website requires 10 steps from start to finish, and it will possibly involve you, a marketing strategist, a copywriter, a Web designer, a Web developer, and perhaps even a graphic designer, too. Here’s what to expect during phase 1 (the super creative and super intense part):
Step 1: Nail down your content
It might surprise you to hear that content is always developed first, but when you think about it, it makes sense. What you want to say determines the number of pages your site will have and they way they’re arranged.
Step 2: Think about on-site lead generation and marketing
If you want your business to grow, you’ll want to turn your website into a lead-generating machine. A marketing strategist can help you determine the right mix of pop-up windows, call-to-action boxes, and social buttons to encourage newsletter sign-ups, blog subscriptions, downloads (of ebooks, free tools, white papers, etc.), and social media followers and shares.
Step 3: Put together navigation that makes sense
Now that content is nailed down, your designer will put together a very basic document called a site map that shows the relationship between parent and child pages and the order in which they’ll appear in the navigation menu. For example, under About (parent), you might have Our Team, Our Story, Philosophy, In the News (children). Generally speaking, you need to think about the user experience here – how do you want website visitors to move around your website?
Step 4: Approve the layout
Next your designer will create what we call “comps,” which are just very basic illustrations of how information on your pages will be laid out. Typically this will include the home page, one parent page, one child page (if they will look different), your team page, your blog, your contact page, and any other pages that differ in layout from a basic parent/child page.
Step 5: Finalize a design you love (the hardest part!)
This is the fun part – and the hard part! Your designer will (usually) create three different designs based on one template, and you have to choose your favorite – or your favorite elements from each, which can be combined into “the” design. The design will also include stock photos, graphics, and/or custom artwork that you need to approve.
In my next blog post, I’ll cover the second phase, which is more technical. Till then, if you have built your own dream house, how much longer did it take than planned? What about your dream website – how long did it take?
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