Building a website is much like building a house; every little detail matters. Long before you watch contractors pour the foundation concrete, you go over the blueprints with your builder to ensure you get what you want and stay within your budget.
Imagine this: “I want a 2-bedroom 1300 sq. ft. house with 1 bathroom and an open floor plan. I'm on a tight budget, so I want simple, functional, and efficient use of space.” Cool. The builder drafts up your house plans. They’re exactly what you asked for, they fit the lot, and the build falls within your budget. The builder goes to work. He lays a precise foundation and puts up the walls. Plumbers and electricians come and go.
And that's when you decide you need an extra bathroom. Two bedrooms should have two bathrooms, right? What if you have guests?
You wouldn't really do that to a builder (we hope)...or if you did, you’d understand that changing something that significant is going to cost a lot more. Walls will have to come down and be rebuilt, the plumbers and electricians will have to come back, and the whole project will take more time.
A Beautiful Buildout is in the Blueprints
Much like building a house, when it comes to building your website, you’re going to want to avoid all the headaches and hassle.
The answer lies in the planning stages. It’s all about crafting blueprints that take both your short-term and long-term marketing strategy and website goals into account. Ok, ok, adding a webpage isn't like adding a bathroom, but what if you suddenly realize…
- You haven't planned for mobile?
- You haven’t detailed how your website will help you generate leads?
- You wanted a website framework that would allow for content marketing strategy deployment down the road?
So how do you know what to include? How do you even start crafting website blueprints that include everything you need for a site that fits within your budget?
Follow These 7 Tips for Website Blueprint Success…
#1: Pick the Right Web Development Team
Trust is everything. An experienced web design/development team has the real-life experience to go over all the pros and cons of your website design, structure, and feature options…before you begin your build. Find a team focused on marketing strategy, rather than website design alone.
#2: Be Prepared
When you have that first conversation with your website development team, have your ideas, questions, and budget organized and ready to go. Start with the basic framework, which includes all the must-have items on your list, then go from there. If you’re entirely revamping your website and/or your brand, showing examples of what you’d like to see can be helpful. Note what you like about each example: the colors, layout, speed, features, clean lines, striking images, etc.
#3: Be Honest About Your Budget
It's human nature to lowball, but your contractor needs to know what they’re working with, so they can help you think forward and build out a plan for achieving your goals in affordable steps.
#4: Share Your Ideas…ALL of Them
What does your dream website look like? What are all those “it would be SO COOL if we had that” features you’d love to see? Spell everything out to your dev/design team up front. If you have big website dreams, there’s no reason you can’t unfurl them over time so they fit your budget. However, it’s important to respect the scope of each phase of the project. If phase one is building a 2-bedroom house on a budget, don't be surprised when it lacks a grand entryway with Italian marble tiles.
#5: Avoid Committing to a Proprietary Site
Some creative teams will insist you commit to their homegrown web solution…but what you’re really getting is a huge pain in the you-know-what. If your website is built on proprietary software, you’ll have to hire that same development/design team ANY time you want even the smallest update. (That’s how they getcha.) Plus, down the road, when you want to move your website off their servers or software, it’s really going to cost ya. The answer? An open-source CMS platform you can update in-house, any time you want, without permission or help from your web dev team. In most cases, this means working with WordPress, Joomla!, or Drupal.
#6: Demand Responsive Design
First and foremost, your website should always be designed with the customer in mind. User experience for both desktop and mobile is your strongest asset. So you need a website that will render beautifully on any device, now and into the future. Mobile is a must these days, but you have options for how to build out your mobile-friendly site. We recommend responsive design. It’s easier to maintain than some other options and much more budget friendly as well. (*Psst: Google recommends responsive design, too!)
#7: Again: Plan, Plan, PLAN
Maybe you can’t afford a finished basement from the get-go. However, smart homebuilders lay in the basement electric and plumbing so you don’t have to tear the house apart when you’re ready for that fancy basement. Same goes for your website. Lay the foundation now and build out your website over time. Get the details right up front and you’ll be able to craft a strong website that grows with your business.
…and hey, please don’t be this guy.
Not sure if your site is mobile friendly? Use the free and easy Google Mobile-Friendly Test tool to find out. Now's the time to go mobile, but how? Check out this handy and comprehensive FREE guide to making your website mobile friendly.