Websites come in all shapes, sizes, colours and designs, as we all know. Many clients approach us, knowing that they "need" a web presence, but unsure of how the finished product will look and feel. It is not uncommon to hear one or more of the following comments at an initial client meeting:
"We need a really impressive website"
"Can you make our website to look like our biggest competitor?"
Likewise, in terms of navigation, design, and more importantly, content, many new clients have not thought about this, assuming that we, as web designers, will write all of the relevant web content for their new website.
Whilst copywriting is an optional service that we offer clients, it is strongly advisable to avail of this service for maximum impact, should you have any difficulty in writing (in the third person) about your business.
Before embarking on employing a web design agency to provide you with the relevant web services, it is vital that you have invested some of your time in compiling a detailed website overview, including:
Every website is designed around a theme or a template (a collection of files that work together to result in the way the website will be displayed). There are thousands of themes to choose form, but in general, we prefer clients to provide us, from the outset, a shortlist of up to 5 websites they like the look and layout of. You may like certain features on one website, and other features on a different website - please let us know!
Once we have this information, we can then select a suitable theme that will have the flexibility to handle all of your web requirements, both now and in the future.
Firstly, we will require copies of your business logo. Your logo is of vital importance for your new website. If you don't currently have a logo, we can design one for you - this is one of the services we provide - click here for more information on our Logo Design service.
Please provide us your logo in either JPG or PNG formats. If you also have your logo in EPS, AI or PSD formats, please also send these to us accordingly.
The main navigation for your website, usually a horizontal, or vertical "main menu". You may also include sub-menus (menu "dropdowns"), and additional menus that may appear on certain pages. You should have a maximum of 6-7 main menu headings (additional menu headings required should be placed as sub-menu/dropdowns).
It is advisable to design your Menu Headings and navigation structure on an Excel spreadsheet.
For each "Menu" or "Page" item, you need to include a Page Title (also referred to as "page title tag", and a "Meta description". The "Page title" is what appears (in blue text) on Google search results pages - for maximum impact, research this well:
As well as Page Titles, each page of your website requires a "meta description" - this should be well-worded, short, concise and descriptive - this text will appear on Google search results, immediately below the Page Title. For maximum impact, the meta description needs to be engaging and inviting:
Home Page Content
In our opinion, the most important textual content of your website, displayed on the homepage. Usually, 2-3 short, concise and well-written paragraphs, describing your business, products/service portfolio, in general terms. This text MUST be engaging, because, if it is not, the visitor will navigate away from your website, without exploring any other pages of your site. It can be challenging to write copy about your own business/service - if this is the case, contact us as we provide professional copywriting services.
Home Page Images/Slideshow
It is normal to have a home page slideshow, comprising of 4-7 (approx.) rotating images, with or without headings/links. Obviously, these should pertain to your business sector. Please do not copy/download images from other websites, as there are very strict copyright laws which are enforced. If you do not have any photographs for use, perhaps we can help, as we provide an optional photography service to all of our clients.
Alternatively, you can source your images from any number of stock images online. The majority of these stock image sites charge a fee for image use, but there are some royalty free/free to use stock image sites. One of our favourites is Pixabay (www.pixabay.com)
All other pages of content
Once you have designed your main navigational menu for your website, you may then link each menu heading to a page of text content, with corresponding imagery etc. You can subsequently decide (and we will help with this), which modules you wish to place on each page. A module may be another menu, an image with a link, a "call to action" or contact form, a map, etc.
A picture paints a thousand words. Depending upon your business, this may or may not be relevant, but if it is, please include photo galleries. Once again, ensure you own these images or have the rights to use these on your website. If you are designing an online shop / Ecommerce site, your product supplier will (more than likely) provide you with images. If however, you do not have any images and lack photography skills, please contact us as we provide an optional photography service.
Images used in photo galleries should be no larger than 1000px in width, and the image file names should be edited accordingly and given concise, descriptive names (also good for SEO). Please ensure image filenames do not contain any spaces and are in lower case (eg. this_format_is_best.jpg). Image formats preferred are JPG or PNG.
Short, embedded (or links to YouTube) video clips can greatly enhance the overall look and feel of a website, and furthermore, can greatly assist with SEO (Search Engine Optimisation - ensuring your website is ranked well on search engines such as Google). At C Me Online, we provide optional Video Editing and Production services to our clients.
For most businesses, it is advisable to provide your online customer base with the ability to easily download brochures, catalogues, menus or other documents. It is advised to provide these in Adobe PDF format (as it is the industry standard for read only documents). If you do not have the ability to create PDF files, simply provide the relevant files to us in Microsoft Word .doc / .docx or OpenOffice format, and we will convert these to PDF for you.
Links & Backlinks
Useful to provide a list of links to other, relevant websites. Likewise, upon completion of your new website, promote it to other companies who may include links on their website to yours. This is known as a "backlink" - Backlinks are links on OTHER websites to YOUR website. Search engines often use the number of backlinks that a website has as one of the most important factors for determining that website's search engine ranking, popularity and importance.
Social Media Links
Your social media campaign should be planned in parallel with your website. Depending upon your target audience, plan your social media carefully. The general rule of thumb is to have at least one social media channel in place - more if you think you will have the time and resources to manage these).
A "Blog" or is a series of short, concise articles that should appear on your website. Many businesses use web based blogs for "Latest News" articles. These can be formatted to appear in date order. They greatly assist in SEO (as described above), and also provide the visitors to your website with the assurance that you are maintaining your website. C Me Online will provide you with access to maintain this yourself (by providing you with video training tutorials).
It is imperative to add to your blog on a regular basis (at least once a month).
Contact Us Forms / CTA
It goes with saying that every website needs a method of allowing potential customers to contact you directly. The basic fields for any contact form include Name, Phone Number, Email address and Message text, although you may have some specific information you would like to receive from each enquirer. Have a dedicated "Contact" page, but also cater for CTA (Call to Actions) on other pages. A Call to Action may be a button linked to the Contact page or a small contact form embedded on a web page.
An embedded Google Map, with optional Streetview, and direction finder - very important! Provide us with your address, postcode/eircode and we will do the rest!