Think you’re ready to start a new website design project? Saying yes to a new website project is easy, but there are challenges for those who aren’t prepared. After years of working with all types of businesses, we’ve discovered the elements clients often miss when starting.
Here’s a list of our top must-have assets for starting a new website:
1. Domain Registration and Hosting Account
Preparing your website domain registration and hosting account is the absolute most crucial groundwork you can lay for a website project. Why are these two elements vital pieces to the puzzle? Just like registering your business with the government, websites must also be registered for the online world.
Your domain is the human-readable address used to identify your website online. Domains are part of the Domain Name System (DNS) and are used to map IP addresses to more user-friendly names. Once you register the domain name, it is yours to use for as long as you pay for it. The most common domain registrar our clients use is GoDaddy, but there are thousands of companies you can use to register your domain.
While domain registration is essential for establishing your website’s address, it does not host your website’s files or content. In most cases, this is done by a web hosting service. You need to know who hosts your website and have the logins to your hosting account to begin making changes or building a website from the ground up.
The most common issue we see is that people don’t have access to their domain registration and hosting accounts. Either they’ve forgotten their password, don’t have access to the email used to create the accounts or their accounts are held by a third party (freelance web designer or another agency). Whatever the case, you have to do a bit of investigation to get access to your accounts. Then make sure you always retain ownership and can get logged in again in the future! A reputable web designer/agency will never hold the ownership of these two crucial accounts.
2. Google Business Profile + Socials
If you are a local business with a physical location, you need to set up a Google Business Profile (GBP). A GBP will allow your business to show in local search results in Google Maps, and it is the most important online property you can own outside of your own website. Depending on the competition in your local area for businesses like yours, simply having a GBP doesn’t guarantee yours will be favorably ranked in the Maps. You can help the process by filling out all of the recommended fields in your profile and asking your customers to leave positive reviews.
If you set up your Google Business Profile before you have a launched website, you can use the URL of your preferred social media account (like your Facebook page) as a placeholder in the website field. When you launch your new website, Google will need time to approve the change in the web address on your profile.
Along with your GBP, you should also create a business (not personal) account on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn and fill in all of the available fields like name, address, phone, website, and description. Even if you don’t plan on doing a lot on social media, it is important to claim your business on these platforms. This will help Google know who you are so you can rank better in search. Also, it will prevent your competitors from creating a profile in your business name for negative PR purposes.
3. Branding Assets
If you’re starting your business, you may not have branding materials (logo, colors, fonts, etc.) completed yet. We suggest taking the time to complete creating your branding assets before tackling a website. If colors, fonts, and design preferences are shifting while you’re trying to build a website, it will just cause more frustration.
Once you’ve got your branding, package your assets into a folder and send them to your website designer so they can match your website to your brand guidelines. Also, please don’t send assets copied into a Word document or PDF. Send high-resolution image files in various sizes and file types, and your designer will thank you.
Most clients we’ve worked with either had no idea they needed to provide content (meaning the words on the page) or were unsure how to strategize their products and services in a way that would help them sell. Even if you start with an outline of what pages you want on the site (also known as a sitemap) plus a short description of what each page should discuss, you’ll be more successful than those who attempt to do it at the last minute.
With a sitemap and short page descriptions in hand, most website builders would be able to build a pretty solid site to at least get you started. A truly professional website-building company would help you work through and strategize different tactics and layouts for the best user experience.
5. Photos (and Videos!)
You may be wondering: shouldn’t photos be part of your brand assets? While we would usually agree, photo strategy is a real thing and, therefore, counts separately. There are only two categories when talking about photos for websites. The first is stock photography, usually generic photos that can be purchased online. The second is only available if you do an on-site photoshoot.
Either is acceptable, but the most important rule of photos is to ensure they are high-resolution and that you have two to five images per page on your site. If you have a five-page website, you should have between 10 and 25 images at a minimum! A good web designer can help you understand what types of photos (and videos) you need on your site and point you in the right direction for either stock or custom photos.
Videos aren’t necessary to build your website at the beginning, but they are an important part of an online marketing strategy. Videos hosted on YouTube provide a powerful way for your site to be ranked in Google search AND engage your target audience. If you’re not sure what kinds of videos might work for your business, talk to us and we can help you brainstorm!
Are You Ready to Build a Winning Website?
If you have all of these must-haves for starting a new website, congratulations! You are ready to jump into design and development. Now all you need is an SEO and web design team to help you put all the pieces together.
Our web design services include search engine optimization, mobile-friendly designs, and content designed to help you convert visitors into customers. We offer competitive pricing and realistic timeframes that ensure your project is launched on time without complications. To see what the InSync Media team can do for you, contact us today and share your website dreams.