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Web design – how to get a good website

So you’re either starting up a business or a club and you need someone to create a website for you.

My guess is you have several questions.
How do i start?
Who do I use?
What kind of web design do I need?
How much will it cost?
What is a domain?
What is a holding page?

Yes we know – we get asked these questions all the time. That’s why we have written this article to hopefully help you in your pursuit of a website that actually is of use to your company or club and looks the way you want it to.

The first thing you have to ask yourself is: What do I want the website for? Do you want it to simply promote your business or club? Do you need to be able to sell your products from it? Do I need to fill it with lots of product related copy? Should it have lots of images on it?

It really can be a minefield just getting to grips with what your website should do and what you need it to do.

Lets start at the beginning. You need a website for your new business. You have a little bit of copy and a few images. Now you need help and advice on how to have your website created. The first step is to contact a web design agency. This is going to be fun (not) because there are hundreds. There are now so many web designers out there it makes you wonder why there is any unemployment. Surely anyone who cannot get a job could simply set themselves up as a web designer. Isn’t it that easy. You just need a bit of software and off you go. It’s true there are people out there who quite clearly should not be designing any kind of website for anyone. But, the sad fact is – they are – and if you’re not careful in your section they’ll soon be doing yours and you’ll very quickly regret it. The number of people that believe they are getting a great website for a few hundred pounds only to find out it doesn’t do what they need is huge. These guys will promise you the world and will defiantly tell you they will have you on the first page of Google in weeks, yes that’s right – in weeks. I’ll talk more on SEO later. The first thing you need to establish is how credible your web designer is. Look at other websites they have done and see if you like them. If you do there is hope. If you do not, then you may as well give up on these guys now.

You really want to feel that you can work with your chosen designers and that they will listen to your objectives. Any web designer worth their code will discuss your business or club first and design a visual that will be presented to you based on your specific criteria. You want something that is for you. You don’t want the ‘run of the mill’ style sheet they have used for every one of their clients for the past five years. That is not web design – that is web copying.

So, whoever you use, make sure you can work with them and they will listen to what you want. Don’t let them dictate to you what they want. They will try and get you to agree to an existing template design. Don’t!

You will also need a domain. This is the name of your site – www.halogencreative.co.uk for instance or www.johnsmithcarhire.co.uk – you are going to need this no matter what kind of website you have. The web design agency can search for an appropriate domain name for you and then buy it. Once you have this you can take your time in having the website created.

Discuss ideas and budget with your chosen web design agency so you are comfortable with what is being offered and at what price. You don’t want to be presented with any surprises further into the project, unless they are clever design ideas. Your web designers should be able to extract enough information from you so they can go away and start designing your website.

The next step is to meet again where you will be presented with their design visuals. Always, always get design concepts of your website before anything is put into code. This is the most important stage of the design and it is much better, and cost effective, to change and amend things now before the website starts to go into code. If they don’t supply design concepts leave and go to a web design agency that does. A lot of web designers are not actually designers – they simply have the technical skill to build a website. They will not have any consideration of what your target market end user is looking for when using your website. This is vital to ensuring the web design itself appeals to them. It needs to attract them and get them to go further into your website by providing what they want to see very quickly. We call this ‘strategic design’ and it is what genuine designers do. Your everyday technical website builder will not do this, so beware.

Anyway – now you have the design concepts, you can discuss them with your web designer and make any changes you would like. Your designer will advise on anything that would not work or be a problem with the functionality of the website. But the final decision of what is done is always yours. You are the client and your web designer is there to provide you with your perfect website – not his!

Once your web design is approved and you are entirely happy with it, your designer will begin to convert into code. There are many different types of code: php, Java, asp.net but your designer will use the most appropriate for your website. The main thing for you is that you like the look of it. Nobody will be aware of what coding is used on it so you needn’t worry about it.

From here you should be able to see your web design taking shape into a functioning website. There will be navigation bars, home pages, roll overs, all the working items that will make up your final website. You will be able to click on the buttons and test out the website to ensure everything works as discussed with your web designer and that you are still happy with it. It is important to test all elements on every page thoroughly so you are confident everything works before the website goes ‘live’. At this stage only you and the web design agency can access the website. The general public cannot. Only when you are completely happy with everything on the website will the agency make it ‘live’.

It may take a little tweaking at this point to get everything how you want it but soon it will have reached its conclusion and you can agree the date of ‘going live’.

Well done YOU DID IT! Your new website is now live and you can tell all your friends to visit it and compliment you on how fantastic it is and how clever and great you are.

Next… we talk SEO.

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