Why should you care about a high performing website?
It’s common knowledge that in this day in age, you need to be online if you own a business… but why? How about this:
86% of consumers use the Internet to find a local business.
Simply put, if you’re not online, you’re being left behind.
Unfortunately, just having any old website really isn’t enough any more and that’s simply because there are billions of websites in the world (and x number new ones every day). So, if you want your website to help you with your business, then you need to consider making a great one, or at least a very good one.
70 new domains are registered and 571 new websites are created every 60 seconds.
Bad websites typically just sit there and don’t do anything. They don’t rank online well and the limited traffic they do get doesn’t garner many leads or sales and most bad websites do a bad job of branding too.
On the contrary, high performing websites rank high in search engines and they get a lot of visitors. Those visitors have a pretty easy time understand the value proposition (what you offer) and can take action easily. These websites also help establish great brand authority, trust and can even make you an industry leader amongst your competitors and peers. All of this leads to increased leads and sales for your business.
Now, which sounds better to you? If you picked the awesome website, then read on.
Knowing Your Market, Competition, & Website Goals
Before starting on your website development project, there are a few things you will want to be aware of that will help ensure your website meets your goals. If you need help planning these, that’s okay. Any good website developer will go over this during your project.
Know Your Market
This is really part of a general business plan, but it’s pretty important to know and understand that market. For example, a website project for a hospice company and an iPhone app website should have significant differences, because of their different average targeted demographics.
Understand Your Competition
Similarly, you need to have a good understanding of who your competition is and how you relate to them currently in the marketplace. There’s a saying that goes like this: “You don’t have to outrun the bear, just the person next to you” and the same is true for your website.
Another critical part to hash out before the development and design begin is setting goals that make the most sense for the project. Are you trying to increase traffic and leads, get better SEO or establish more trust? Knowing these will help you keep your project on track.
Defining Website Success
Once you’ve launched your new high performing website, you’re going to want to measure things so you can see if you’re meeting your goals. We cover some of this in our What is Search Engine Optimization resource, so I won’t repeat it. Just know that measurement is a critical aspect.
Technical Overview of Website Terminology
Knowing the basics of web terminology will help you understand the process and give you great awareness of all the components involved. If you already know this stuff or are simply uninterested in the specifics, feel free to skip ahead.
Basic Website Terms and Definitions
- Domain Name: A domain name is a name that helps a user easily navigate to a set of computer files. Example: our domain name here is multiversemediagroup.com.
- URL: Short for “Uniform Resource Locator”, but commonly called a web address is part of a domain name that leads to a specific page. Every new web page on your website will have it’s own URL.
- DNS: Short for “Domain Name System”, DNS is a essentially a set of instruction residing on a computer that translates a URL to a specific file on a specific web server.
- Website: A website is a collection of all of the web pages (URLs) in one domain name and can include files such as images, videos, apps, and much more.
- Web Server: A web server is a computer, normally of enterprise grade and in a dedicated web serving environment, that ‘serves’ up web files and when a URL is requested. Please note that not all web servers are created equal and bad ones can hurt your results. Check out our premium managed hosting service.
- Web Browser: Web browsers are the programs that reside on your personal computers (Mac, PC, tables, or phones) that display web pages when requested. Hint: you’re on one now looking at this webpage.
- HTML: HTML stands for “HyperText Markup Language” and is the primary code of the web and is responsible for giving website’s their structure, layout, content, and more. Note, there are many other coding languages that work with HTML to make most websites, but HTML is required.
- Website Platform: A website platform refers to the method in which the website was assembled and/or hosted. There are website builder platforms which are inexpensive, but are 100% DIY. Another is called a “static” site which is a site of files and folders for a website that is not a CMS in any way. The last, is called a CMS which is defined below.
- CMS: CMS stands for “Content Management System” which is essentially a system designed to allow users to be able to administer their own websites, add new content, and make changes without a web developer. At MVMG, we only develop CMS websites because we believe it allows easier management, higher ROI, and better long term flexibility. Check out a blog where we talk about our favorite CMS.
- Web Content: A website’s contents are the written words, images, videos, and any other type of assets that make up what the end user interacts with. Content is a critical part of any website, because without it, there’s nothing to display.
- SEO: SEO is short for “Search Engine Optimization” and is basically the process of making a website ranking higher in search engines using on-page and off-site methods.
- UX/UI This is a part of the website process and stands for “user experience and user interface design”. This basically is the process of figuring out what elements are needed to get the right actions from visitors and where they should go. Sort of similar to the science of ergonomics.
- Sitemaps A sitemap is a list of all the pages on a website. There are two main types: XML, which is for search engines, and a standard html one meant for humans. Both are important.
- Wireframes A wireframe is a crude drawing or mockup taking the elements from UX/UI and demonstrating where elements will go on a web page. Doing this before design and development helps save time and ensure a smooth flow of the remaining stages.
Understanding the Website Development Process
Regardless of what website platform you choose, what web host, or web development company, there’s always a process to building websites. Now, everyone’s process is a bit different, some longer, some shorter, but all these elements will need to be done to have a successful website.
An Example Website Development Process (ours)
- Discovery: This stage involves client and competition research, setting goals, and planning. It normally involves setting limitations within the budget as well.
- Strategy: Here the main goals are UX/UI, develop sitemaps, and a wireframes to aide in the design process. Content is normally acquired and/or developed here.
- Design: The design process is the stage in which you actually see close to final representations of what the site may look like. These may be presented as flat designs or interactive private webpages.
- Development: This stage is where all the above elements come together into your website. Coding languages such as HTML, PHP, CSS, Java and more may be used as well as all the final content assets to present the design on multiple devices and sizes.
- Launch: The last step is the launch step. Normally, there’s testing before and right after launch to ensure everything is working as it should.
One thing to note here is that not all web development companies will actually do all of these stages. Some are development only meaning they only code, some only do the design and do no code, some will do the content and planning, etc. At MVMG, we take a holistic approach to the website process and do each of the stages or at least actively help clients if there’s stages they insist on doing like content.
How to Budget Your Website
One of the most important aspects of any website design and development process, is coming up with the appropriate budget. From a business sense, you should start by thinking of it as investing into an asset and not an expense. Like we posted out earlier, a good to great website has the potential to bring you new business, so it can have a measurable ROI (return on investment).
This means not approaching this by saying “how much is this going to cost?”, but rather “what’s a smart investment level for my business that will yield a desirable positive ROI?”. These two approaches are significantly different and if you take the first one, you’ll almost undoubtedly get a lower end website. The goal is to find a good happy medium investment level that will get you a website that represents your brand and achieves your goals at the current stage of your business.
You probably don’t want to put in 100k for a small local business because this would be massive overkill that you would probably never see a positive ROI on (unless you’re a chain). In the same respect, if you’re a national brand competing with other national brands, I’m pretty sure that a small 2-5k website won’t cut the mustard. Unfortunately, while we can’t give blanket numbers on what you should or shouldn’t invest in your website here, if you would like further help, just fill out this simple form and we’d be glad to help.
How to Pick the Right Web Design/Development Team
If you haven’t figured it out by now, website design and development isn’t a cake walk and unless you have the experience needed to do it yourself (most people do not), this is one of those tasks you should really leave to the pros. For a quick laugh about this, you should check out The top 8 reasons you should fire your web designer. On a serious note, even among web design firms, there is a significant difference. Like I said above, not all web firms even help with all of the stages required for a website development project. While we don’t believe this is the way to approach it, maybe you really do only need design and development.
Here’s some of the things we think you should look for in your website firm:
Quality Portfolio: If you’re designer doesn’t have a good portfolio, it’s likely they simply don’t have enough experience to do the job correctly. Here’s our website portfolio if you want to see it.
Testimonials: Equally as important as good examples are real people saying good things about the potential firm. If you read their reviews and everyone says they didn’t have a good experience, you might want to stay away.
Knows Good Code: All code is not created equally. Sloppy code leads to inefficient and low performing websites that load slow, have more errors, are less compatible, and require more maintenance.
Develops in a CMS: CMS’s save you time and money in long term management costs. As an added benefit, Google loves them.
Use a Project Management System: Website design and development projects have a lot of moving components and trying to tackle all of that and keep everyone on the same page without one is a nightmare. If your designer doesn’t use one, you should walk away.
Have Good Contracts: Good contracts aren’t something to be scared of. They actually help both parties if done right. The idea is to clearly outline what will be done, by whom, when, and for how much.
Employs a Website Development Process: Every project is unique and shouldn’t be treated exactly the same, but without a standard process and workflow, your project will likely get off track or something somewhere will suffer. Here’s our website development process.
Knows SEO: If you’ve read our What is Search Engine Optimization Guide, then you’d know that half of SEO is what’s happening with your website (on-page). Not handling this during web development is a mistake.
Offers Content Solutions: Frankly, most people can’t write effective website copy that can rank well online, get high engagement rates, AND get your users to take action. Your designer doesn’t need to be able to write in themselves, but they should have a solution.
Offers Support & Maintenance: Just like a house, car, or any other investment (remember not expense) you’re going to need to provide some basic website maintenance over time including bug fixes, adding pages and content, updating security issues and software, etc.
How to Market Your Website
While we’re not going to get into the specifics of online marketing campaigns here because this article is about building a great, high performing website, it’s important to know that marketing your website is just as important as building one. After all, what’s the good of your new kick butt website if no one ever sees it. Believe us when we tell you that marketing a high performing website is not an “if you build it they will come” thing. It takes work, just like building it did. However, we have some other great marketing resources as well as an awesome blog with great marketing articles to help you along the way.
Building an Awesome Website Recap
Yes, we know this article was long, but we hope it gave you some insight into the process of making better websites that can help you grow your business online and stand out in a crowded marketplace. If you need some help building your high performing website or just want some advise on making the right choices contact us below and we’ll be glad to help.