It’s often said that planning, designing and building a new website is only 25% of what you should be doing online.
That means, even once you’ve got your shiny new website live, you still have three times as much work still to do. How you plan your website and the process the project follows is so important – you don’t want to invest hours and money into your new site if it’s not planned properly in the first place.
If you’ve worked on a website project before, you’ll know that’s a daunting task; the web project alone can take 8–12 weeks, so you’re looking at at least another six months of hard graft (usually on top of everything else you need to do).
We use WordPress for all our sites. If you’ve used it before you’ll know why; enterprise-level content management, security, updates and flexibility in a free, ‘works-out-of-the-box’ app.
WordPress is and continues to get more amazing, but it’s a tool, not a solution, and unfortunately, if you see WordPress as the all-encompassing solution for your website, you’ll end up with something you end up re-working six months later.
WordPress is part of your toolkit for building an awesome website. It’s an important one, but it needs to used properly.
When we build sites at Toast, we spend nearly as much time helping our clients to plan them as we do building them. Planning stages typically include:
There are only nine points there, but they cover a lot of ground. If you are serious about getting your website working hard for your business, you’ll invest time and budget into the planning stages to make sure the site performs well.
Sounding a little complicated?
It is, but that’s why you need to talk to a web agency that thoroughly plans what they do and has a process to make sure it’s done.
Let’s be honest, the planning stages of a website aren’t seen as the most exciting, it’s the design stuff that everyone can’t wait to get stuck into, but design alone will not get you new business from your website.
As we look at it, you can have the best-looking site on the planet, but if it doesn’t bring you any customers, it’s a waste of time.
Making sure that all the planning is done correctly means that the eventual design of the site if more informed, better thought-out and more effective.
When talking to agencies about getting a new website designed, make sure you discuss the process and how they are going to approach the project.
If the discussion is mainly based on what it’s going to look like, you’re going to get something that looks nice but doesn’t do anything.
Your web agencies process should follow something like this:
Take a breath there. We’re getting to the creative stuff!
That’s a pretty long (but in no way exhaustive) list, and each bullet point will have several other related tasks that need to be done before moving onto the next.
We’ve not even touched on promoting your new site when live, effective Social Media campaigns or anything ‘marketing’.
The point here is that the above is not ‘just a website’ – it’s a plan and process to build your digital team member, AKA your website.
It should be something that can interact with your customers or clients 24/7.
The most important thing that we take into account when planning a new website is that no two clients are the same.
You’re going to have different objectives and requirements from everyone else we work with.
Our process is flexible and fits around several important factors:
We understand that you’ll often have internal clients and stakeholders that might not be directly involved in the project, but will be watching it like a hawk.
It sounds obvious, but project management tools are vital for a large website project. We use these, and they are of great benefit to every project.
Looping in all the stakeholders, sharing files and documents, setting to-do’s, milestones and deadlines are another part of the website planning, design and build project that are crucial to its’ success.
Given that web projects can sometimes be a bit of a bumpy ride, a full handover pre- or post-launch is also a vital stage.
At Toast, we build in two weeks of post-live support into all our projects as we know that once the site is open to the public (and all your colleagues), the micro-examination starts and tweaks, snags and alterations need doing.
Now that your site has gone live, we can come back to that other 75% of the stuff that you need to do on the site.
Blogging, on-going SEO, link building, content production, inbound marketing, tracking, reporting and so on – it’s a seemingly endless list, but we’re here to help you.
Toast have support packages that suit even the smallest of websites right up to unlimited support contracts for larger mission-critical sites.
We can also help you with content production and SEO with our monthly SearchWorthy package.
We’re a team of 15 designers, developers and marketers over three floors in our Oxfordshire-based HQ.
In-house, we offer graphic and web design, website consultancy (the planning and process bit), WordPress development, Inbound Marketing and Hubspot services. We’ve been doing (most of) this since 1997 and have the experience you need to get the job done.
If you’d like to have a chat through your requirements, call us on 01295 266644 or drop us a message below.
We’ve written an updated version of this post that can be found here.