What Does It Take To Create A Website?
I'm writing this short article to give you an insight into what I've experienced when producing websites for my clients and for my own business. By the end of this article you'll be more prepared to know whether it's the best time for you to embark on your own website project.
It's easy to look online at finished websites and think "how hard can it be?" You see the sort of thing that you want and imagine that it would be fairly straightforward to make something similar.
You'll either be:
- Working with someone, a web designer, to create your website
- Working by yourself to create your own website
Working with a website designer
The first thing that a web designer is going to need to know is everything that you're planning to achieve with your website. It's common to think that a web designer will know exactly what to do, what you want and how to get there, after all they do this everyday.
The thing is that your business is unique, you know it best and your web designer is starting from no knowledge about you or your business so it's up to you to be in a position to be able to answer any and all questions they have.
This is the strategy for your website.
Why your business exists.
What are your most profitable products / services?
What do you need your website to do?
Who are your ideal customers, what do they want?
How will you attract and capture them?
Sometimes answering these questions can be a huge roadblock.
Logo / brand
This is the next area to tackle. Have you got a brand in place? If not then, it's another hurdle to overcome. So many people brush over this part of the process because they don't want to commit the time it takes to do it right.
I get that sometimes there just isn't the budget for it, so instead you'll need to be able to communicate a brief to your designer regarding colours, fonts etc and be ok with a simple solution that doesn't include a lot of thought process.
If you do have a brand in place then it is up to you to provide all the information that your web designer needs to know about how to apply your branding to the website. Provide high quality logos in various formats, inform them of colour references, font choices and any other quirks.
For a web designer to do their job well and in the the most efficient time, you'll need to give them as much information about your vision for the design of the website as possible. It is hopeless to assume that your web designer will be able to come up with what you have in your mind without conveying decisively and clearly what it is.
This is going to mean that you have to make definitive decisions about the design that you want: the colours; the fonts; the look and feel. Writing a brief is the best way of doing this, as well as including examples that you have seen. From the best information you can provide, your web designer will use their talent and experience to come up with a design that matches your expectations.
Content - text, images, videos, audio, downloads
This is the main reason why website projects grind to a halt. Content. Most of the time a web designer is relying on you to provide the content for your website (unless they have quoted for this as part of the project).
At the beginning of a project some clients ask how long it will take to create the website. I know how long it will take if I have been provided everything I need, but the problem is that a lot of the time there are bits and pieces missing which stops the process in it's tracks.
Working on your own website
After reading all of the above you may have learned a little about the process that goes into creating a website properly. I know from my own experience that it takes a lot longer when you're trying to create your own website (yes, even when you are a web designer!) It is so incredibly hard to make decisions, you get bogged down and it all ends up taking 5 times longer than it should! And then are you happy with it? Maybe not. Trust me it is a long and drawn out process.
You are going to have to figure out how to create your website from the multitude of options available. Then you'll have to learn how to use it, all whilst trying to design the website and add content. I am not going to sugar coat it, the learning curve that you're going to have to go through is steep.
Planning, writing content, researching web design software, learning how to use it, designing and creating the website. Phew! Good on you for taking on the challenge. At least if you do go down this route you can rely on yourself instead of others, save a bit of money (but not time) and it would suit if you have a genuine interest in web design and marketing.
Live websites might look like they are quick and easy to make but they are not! If you want to do this properly and end up with a professional looking website then it is going to take time, a lot of thought and decisions.
Don't expect your web designer to be able to just get on with it without your input. You have to commit yourself to the project even when you are working with a web designer. There is work to be done on both sides and the process is very much a team effort.
Writing content and collating everything needed for your website takes time and effort. You need to be sure that you have enough space in your schedule to dedicate to the tasks.