A quality website is like a gem. It has many facets, ranging from domain hosting and web development to search engine optimisation and web content. There are a lot of different approaches and it can be hard to know where to start to achieve the best result.
The rise of content management systems (CMS for short) has opened the world of website creation up to the general public, and very few websites are now coded from scratch. Many business owners are capable of going it alone these days, and we have seen fantastic websites created by entrepreneurs armed with technological nous.
Equally, website creation can be a tricky and time-consuming process, easily put on the back-burner. Seeking professional website creation skills is often worth it to allow your organisation to focus on what it does best and get the best results in a timely way.
Here are some of the basics for creating a great website in an affordable way, starting with a quick description of who does what.
Web content producers
Web content is the written and visual imagery presented on a website. In business, it is often produced by the marketing and communications team.
Web content writers work to write engaging and keyword-optimised content for the website, and often work with graphic designers and videographers to create other complementary material such as graphics and videos.
Web designers work to put web content together. It’s their job to make sure a website is visually appealing, matches up with a business or organisation’s branding and is easy for visitors to navigate. They are also often responsible for how the website is set up.
Web developers have a different job to web designers. They are the players behind the scenes who write the code that makes websites work, often specialising in areas like e-commerce, website hosting and security.
While it’s extremely uncommon to code websites from scratch these days thanks to the multitude of web-ready content management systems, web developers work to evolve the user interface (also known as UI) and add functionality by developing features such as tailored e-commerce modules.
Digital marketing strategists
Digital strategists consider how users are likely to interact with a website, providing advice on improving the user experience (also known as ‘UX’). This might include reviewing previous data a company might have against what they are trying to achieve. For instance, Google Analytics data may illustrate mobile vs desktop browsing rates, identify which pages of a site customers interact with or help map how customers ‘flow’ through a website.
Web content optimisers
There are also a lot of associated industries which can add value to a website, such as search engine optimisation services, content optimisation experts, server optimisation specialists and so on.
Although crossover between roles is common, it pays to know what you’re looking for and get the right skills on the team.
Why start by planning your web content?
Put it this way – would you choose a frame without knowing what the painting looks like?
A business or organisation can have an attractive website, but if it doesn’t suit the needs of the organisation, reach out to its target audience and match the products or services it has to offer, it has missed the point.
A lot of businesses start by contracting a good web designer. Great! Their skills will be needed to present the web content in an attractive and easy to navigate fashion. But design is only part of the picture. What about the content? If it’s not up to scratch, the site suffers.
Websites should be designed with the nature of the content they will house in mind. Starting design of a website without an understanding of content can be a recipe for disaster.
In the worst of these scenarios, websites get designed and made live for over a year with the budget blown and no content. In other situations, ‘placeholder pages’ get made live for over two years waiting for their organisation to find the spare time to design and populate them with content – their business paying domain hosting fees all the while.
The lesson? Taking the time to consider your objectives and plan your website so it helps you achieve them is well worth it.
Pro tips for creating a great website
- Plan your site structure first. If you create a framework in a haphazard ‘fill-the-gaps’ way, your site is likely to wind up inconsistent and undermine the message you’re trying to present.
- Establish good web content prior to design. This helps web designers understand the task they have at hand, enabling them to do the best possible job of making a navigable and attractive website.
- Make sure the content is fit for purpose. If you are looking to present a site featuring full-width images, supplying your designer with low-resolution thumbnail images usually won’t lead to a good result
- Consider the big picture. Boosting search rankings can add value, but this should not happen at the expense of the usability of your website. If your content isn’t readable, people won’t read it. If your website doesn’t provide a pleasant experience, it’s unlikely to convert visits to sales.
- Be consistent. Consistency is the key to an appealing website. Presenting images at a range of sizes or a blog where some posts appear much longer than others can be jarring if it’s not properly thought out.
Last Word can help you manage all aspects of website creation, from planning and content production to design and development. If you’re looking to update, upgrade or create something entirely new, get in touch to discuss how we can help.