Thinking about a new website?




Some helpful notes about getting a new website or improving an old one:


It matters less what the budget is than it does to have allocated around 1/3rd of it to building-in really good SEO at the development stage.


Businesses often come with preconceived ideas about the size of a website, either because they have lots of archival content or because they are new and have very little. Audience and purpose ought to be the deciding factor on what pages are needed. Being honest, historical content will rarely do the job as customers/visitors/search engines show preference to fresh content with fresh approaches tailored to purpose and audience.


As much as it feels nice to have someone else write your content, the person that knows your target customers and business best is YOU! No web designer can match that level of knowledge in your business, so, if you can write your own content – do so! If you can’t then you’ll need to factor in time to brief someone with expertise in writing for your audiences, about your business and goals. Not all writers can writing marketing content. Not all websites need marketing content.

One of the common misconceptions about content is that you wait for a site to be built before filling in the words where they need to go. But in that sense a website is like getting a brochure printed, the words come first, not where they end up being placed. Where web content does differ from a printed brochure is in the additional content, like hashtags, taglines, snippets, calls to action, focus keywords to help with SEO, images, graphics, videos and links.

Great content is the thing which defines a great website from a boring one, more so than the web designers skills!


What platform suits your needs? Each has its own pros and cons. Around 99% of my customers use WordPress. Used by millions around the world it’s reliable, capable of great functionality and user friendly. But self-hosted custom WordPress sites do take time to build, require a separate hosting package and usually require a monthly care package to maintain them afterwards. All of these costs need to be taken into account when deciding to go for WordPress.

Squarespace is predominantly a DIY site builder, but is now being taken seriously by developers. For clients it offers a website build without the time and costs of a wireframe build, includes hosting and doesn’t require much of a care package. The beautiful templates and now added range of functionalities make Squarespace a hit for creatives/creative businesses. Web Dev, Squarespace monthly fees & potential maintenance costs are significantly less than a self-hosted WordPress, making it a growing trend for those on a tighter budget and less interested in custom functionalities.

For those looking at more sophisticated or custom functionality, the platform and technology choices ought to be researched on a case by case basis.


Allocating time:

Google loves websites which have regular fresh content. If you can’t allocate the resources for this, then question whether you need a website or whether social media will do the job or vice versa. Design your website with realistic and honest goals. If you are never going to post any fresh content, then design for that. If you need the content for the traffic, then design for that and deliver it. There is no magic. There are many different cake recipes, they are all cake, but different things go into the process.


Everyone wants to sell things online, but running your own custom built shop is expensive & time consuming to setup, maintain and use. Having your own shop on your own website is only one solution of many. It’s actually a solution which only really suits a few scenarios (most of which are bigger business not small). Get good advice, look at options like Shopify, Etsy, Ebay or think about selling without a system. Prove you have buyers for your products before spending. Make sure you understand what the whole process flow is for eCommerce: get product, photograph product, enter product details, customer view, save/select, purchase, pay, payment gateway process, pack, deliver, tracking, follow through, review and customer service, it’s not just taking money. If it went mad, do you have the stock to fulfill the orders, do you have the manpower to process them, is the backend software sufficient for your accounting needs, what happens when it goes wrong?


Your brand is one of the most important things to be communicating to the world through your new website, so carbon copying someone else’s website is rarely going to be the answer if you want audiences to understand and love your brand. If you’re new, get some help with branding or do some reading about how brand and audience co-exist. If your brand is established, then the design, styles, visuals and navigation all need to work towards communicating that, rather than just going for what you like. Quite often a first step is to find some reference sites, look at competitors sites or get trusted customer feedback.


Neither your business nor new website live in a vacuum, there are other businesses around and competition online. A good first move when building a new website or rebuilding an old one is to check out your competitors and your customers. If you are competing with big players, your approach online will need to be different than if you are in a niche market alone. It’s also useful to get feedback from your clients/customers, or do general research about your target demographics, to find out what else they are looking at and liking online. Good research, before you start can help understand the functions, stories and marketing usp’s for your new site & determine how well your website performs for your business.