How to Launch Your New Web Site
Creating your first website can be a very overwhelming scenario. There are so many things that need to happen to make it work properly and most of these you might not have even have thought of. Don’t worry, you’re surely not alone. Together, we will go through the checklist of launching your new site.
1. Your Plan
The first step is figure out what you want your website to do for you. Will it be a simpler, informational site and a point of contact or will it be a gallery or a forum? Do your services require an online store to sell your products? It is essential to understand what purpose you want to get out of your site.
You will need a valid hosting service. There are many hosting companies out there to choose from and finding one should require some research. The hosting company you choose places your website onto it’s servers and there are different options to choose from.
- Shared Hosting – You share a server with multiple websites. This is the cheapest option.
- Dedicated Hosting – A server’s resources are completely dedicated to your website. This is the most expensive option.
- Semi-Dedicated – Reserves a server for a very small amount of clients
Most likely for your website shared hosting is more than adequate. If you anticipate very high volume then you may want to choose dedicated or semi-dedicated hosting. The more traffic your website has the slower it will perform.
Customer service is another important issue. If your email and server goes down will there be someone on the other line to help put everything back online?
3. Domain Name
Now that you have a home for your website you need an easily recognizable address. The domain name (DNS) is the name that appears in the address bar in your web browser, excluding: ‘http://www’. Our domain name is ’9gearsmedia.com’. You will not own your domain name for life (you pay annually in most cases). You can choose to pay for your domain name from your register by the year or most companies will allow you to pay for 5 to 10 years at a time. It is important to remember to re-register your domain name when it runs out because there are many people out there that will snatch up your domain name if they get the chance.
Finding a name can be difficult because if you are using general terms chances are your wanted name might already be purchased by someone else. In addition, there are ‘squatters’ that buy massive amounts of domain names in the hopes that others who want that certain name will pay them many times what it is actually worth.
It is important to know who it is you want to communicate with online. Who is your target audience? What do they want from the site? Do they want information, to be educated or to be entertained? A sharp focus on your target audience is essential for your overall website strategy.
Your budget is the single most important marketing investment you will make, and you need to figure out a realistic number you are willing to spend on the creation of your website. Expect to spend into the 4 figures for a properly planned and well executed website. Rates vary wildly throughout the industry and it is very unregulated. Be sure to do your research on possible candidates and look at portfolios or possible referrals from other companies. Many design companies are simply middle men outsourcing contracts to unqualified overseas labor farms.
Content play a very key role in the proper development of any website. Effective design relies on high quality content to provide relevance, context and purpose. Content is not only the text on your pages but it’s the images, logos, call to actions that will live within your pages. It is crucial to have a good idea of what your content will be before you start the design process.
7. Website Design
This is the fun part, though it doesn’t quite start out that way.
Following your initial consultation and scope development, your designer will generally develop a wire frame for your approval. The wire frame is the bare bones or skeleton for your site, establishing general real estate/layout and structural presentation of site elements. It’s boring, but it is important. There are no colors used. Spending a little time here now will save a lot of time and money later on.
The wire frame will be followed by a visual concept presentation for your homepage. If all of the preliminary steps have been covered thoroughly and thoughtfully (by both the designer and yourself) and communication has been clear, this will generally serve as the starting point for your site. You will begin to see your site being fleshed out. Colors, true graphics and imagery will be used to visually represent what your site will look like when it is online. Remember, it will not be interactive at this point but gives you a great reference on what to expect. Of course, you may want to tweak some colors or images to make the design perfect in your eyes. Remember though, your eyes are not the important ones… it is the eyes of your customers you really need to consider. And it is your designer’s job to communicate your message with your target audience squarely in mind.
The design phase finishes with your visual layouts contained within PSD files in most cases. If your designer is also your developer, the transition to the next step will be seamless.
8. Website Development
Once again, if your website designer and developer are the same person, they will already have been provided with the required functionality and content for your site. If you are going with a separate developer, you will need to provide them with PSD files for the site (provided by your designer). They will then turn your visual design into a fully functional, working piece of communicative art (in code).
Web standards are important to ensure that your website looks and works as it should for the maximum possible number of visitors, though even that is no guarantee. Your developer will also need to test the site for cross-browser and cross-platform compatibility, different browsers are not all standard and display certain code in various ways (Yes, it can be aggravating). The way your site is coded is incredibly important for usability, accessibility, and will have a strong impact on how your site ranks in search engines.
Once the pages have been coded your developer will migrate the files he created onto the server which your domain is pointed to. Once there he will most likely make the final tweaks to make sure your site is functioning correctly in it’s new home. Once this is finished your site is complete and it is ready for you to show to the world!
Putting a brand new site online can be quite the task, however if you follow these main guidelines it will go a lot smoother than you might imagine.