Beginner Guide: 7 Key Considerations When Developing A Business Website (Plus WordPress Plug-ins)

This blog post covers 7 key things you should be thinking about when creating your business website. You will need a WordPress ready website to follow these steps. Click here to go to my previous blog where I show you how to create one.

The tedious planning and preparation

Many professional web developers suggest that to build a great website, a little planning goes a long way. Not only will it give you a sense of direction, fixing a site post-develop is difficult so it is worth the effort trying to do it right the first time.

1.Setting objectives

Planning starts with setting objectives. You should consider: 

  • What are the business core values?
  • Why do you need a website?
  • What message do you want to send to the site visitors?
  • What do you want the website to do?

To answer these questions you might want to look at your business model, strategy, competitors and most importantly customers. An important aspect of setting objectives is good understanding of customers which could be achieved through customer persona. Customer persona helps you envision your target customer in detail allowing you to understand customers better and therefore setting appropriate objectives. Click here to get a customer persona template. Your objective should also be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. (SMART) Here is a SMART objective guide.

2. Prepare the basics

Next, make sure that you have basic brand assets and content to satisfy your website need. Brand assets are any type of file, image or document that identify you from other providers.

  • Brand Name
  • Logo
  • Font
  • Slogans
  • Tagline
  • Mascot
  • Typography
  • Jingles
  • Celebrities endorsing the brand
  • Social media channels

One of the most important brand assets is Logo. Researchers have found that logo designs have useful applications in different contexts such as green/eco-marketing. Therefore, you should design your logo that suits both the products and services you offer and your particular client base. (Kim and Lim, 2019)

Simply put, brand content is the story information about your company and product. Basic brand content includes:

  • Company content
    • Story of your business history 
    • Mission and vision
    • Product information
  • Contact information
    • Location
    • Operating hours
    • Phone number
    • Email address
    • Social media account

Content is not limited to writing, it could be in various forms engaging customers in different ways as shown below.

Click here to learn more about content marketing.

Here comes the designing

3.Learning a page builder

Building a website for a first-time web developer like us has never been easier with the existing WordPress page builders. A page builder is a WordPress plugin is an alternative, usually more intuitive, to WordPress own editor. In our case, a page builder should allow us to design complex layouts visually, and design the website live, with little to none coding knowledge and not having to switch between the editor and the preview mode. Following is a list of beginner-friendly page builders:

  • Elementor
  • Beaver Builder
  • Divi Builder
  • Brizy

4.Setting Design Direction

In this step, you should consider the theme most suitable for your business and brand. A website could be seen as a form of storytelling and the backbone of a story is its theme. A theme is an underlying idea you are trying to convey to the website visitor. A theme usually is a combination of different sizes and types of fonts, colour schemes and the aesthetics of the website. 

There are two ways you can find themes. The first is through WordPress themes directory. The second way is through independent theme shops such as Generate Press and Astra and Theme Forrest. Both options offer free and paid themes.

Colour should be one of your main concerns when choosing a theme. Colours could evoke emotional responses, such as red with aggressiveness and dominance. (Elliot, 2015) In the matter of using colours on your website, you should consider the findings from the previous steps on customer and your product. Click here to learn how to use the power of colour in your branding

Moreover, you should also pay attention to colour matching by learning the basic elements of colour theory. Below is the “Color Theory for Noobs”.

5.Designing key pages

Once you have chosen your website theme and established your website objectives and have prepared basic company content, you can begin to visualize the website key pages by asking “what are the pages you need in order to deliver your objectives?”

To answer the first question, a good rule of thumb is to keep it simple by giving each page a single objective and using a technique called wireframe. Wireframing is a designing process where you create a visual guide that represents the mock-up version of your website. It can be done easily on WordPress (usually comes with your theme), hand-drawing or using an online template. Click here to learn more about wireframing. 

6.Designing a sitemap

In this step, you will map out the relationship between different pages. A confusing site may turn away customers. A sitemap helps ensure clear site navigation not only for customers but also search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask.com to better index your site. Click here to learn how to create a sitemap and see the following table for WordPress sitemap Plugins. 

7.Designing functions

For the pages you designed, think of their key function by asking “what task does each page have to perform (key features)?”

Designing functions can be straightforward for some pages and very complex on another depending on the task and the involved party.

For instance, if you are a restaurant business with a menu page then the key feature would be simply a page with text, pictures and/or video. On the other hand, if you are an eCommerce, on a checkout page, you may need a more complex payment processing function which is connected with different payments system providers such as PayPal, Visa and Mastercard which is also tied to your internal ordering, accounting and customer email system.

The good news is, WordPress has a function called plugin. Think of it as a WordPress app store where you could browse for a pre-made software that provides you with the needed key function. There are more than 52,000 plugins surely, this blog post could not name them all but there are plenty of online plugin guides specifically for your business. I have put together a list of useful plugins that most businesses would benefit from.

Bonus

The shortlist below contains design elements academic researchers believe help facilitate user engagement.

(Garett et al., 2016)

References

Elliot, A. (2015). Color and psychological functioning: a review of theoretical and empirical work. Frontiers in Psychology, 6.

 

Garett, R., Chiu, J., Zhang, L. and Young, S. (2016). A Literature Review: Website Design and User Engagement. Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies, 6(3).

 

Kim, M. and Lim, J. (2019). A comprehensive review on logo literature: research topics, findings, and future directions. Journal of Marketing Management, 35(13-14), pp.1291-1365.

 

 

 

3 Steps to Set Up Your First Design-Ready Website Under 15 Euro

There are now countless ways allowing an SME owner or a first-time web developer like you and me to create a website ourselves. 

So, the problem now is no longer a lack of option but rather an overabundant of it.

In this blog, you will find a guide to help you sort through these options and set up a WordPress-ready website through the lens of a first-time web developer myself. There will be an example in every step based on a consultant project we worked with a student apartment company called RIBBIN.

Step 1: Choose a solution

Your main solution as a beginner is a website builder (Wix, Squarespace, etc.) or a content management system (WordPress, Joomla, etc.)

Our professional firmly suggests sticking to WordPress if you are a beginner because:

  • WordPress is more user-friendly compared to the other CMSs like Joomla and Drupal.
  • WordPress is free while website builders are costly and generally very limited.

Studies

  • WordPress is powering up to 29 per cent of all websites and “nontechnical person can create a website, while building a product that can scale all the way up to enterprise clients with complex needs” (Cabot, 2018)

 

Step 2: Choose a domain hosting and web hosting

Things to understand

There are two things you need in order to create your WordPress website: 

  1. Domain Name
    Is essentially your website name which represents the address where Internet users can access your website. It is the unique address on the internet that you own. Example: YourBusinessName.com 
  2. Web Hosting
    Is a service that hosts your site on the internet world. 

An easy way to understand this is if the domain name is the address of your business then web hosting is the actual business building on the internet world that the domain points to. This building hosts all the files of your website in a way that people on the internet could access it.

The good news is most web hosting services today offer domain registration as part of their offers. 

Things to consider

So you only have to choose a web hosting service. Here the author put together a list of important things to consider.

Your technical needs 

  1. Support WordPress integration and domain name management
    Since you’re going to build your site on WordPress and manage your domain in one place, you will need a web host that supports the software. 
  2. Shared Hosting
    Shared Hosting is the cheapest option but the most limited control over the server performance because your site is being hosted along with other sites. As a result, the performance of your website partly depends on the resource usage of your neighbors. (Urgaonkar, Shenoy and Roscoe, 2002) In most cases, shared hosting is more than enough for SMEs. The other two options are overkill: Virtual Private Server Hosting and Dedicated Server Hosting To better understand the concept. A comprehensive comparison of the three
  3. Scalability
    While you are a small business now, your business might grow bigger with more expected visitors and complexity of your website. Therefore, you should consider the scalability of the service you will be partnering with. Linking back to the previous criteria, see if the provider offers plans that allow you to move from shared hosting to dedicated hosting.
  4. Location
    In short, the closer the hosting server to our visitors, usually means the faster your page will load. But do not limit yourself to only local providers because some international providers have their servers across the world. ?
  5. Uptime
    This refers to the time web host makes your site available on the internet. Most web hosting services will guarantee uptime in percentage, the higher the better.
  6. Backup
    Make sure your hosting provider offers sufficient backup. Backups enable you to recover your website at any point if needed. You should look for automatic daily backup with a 7-day lifetime.
  7. Bandwidth and Storage
    Bandwidth refers to the maximum rate of data and traffic allowed to transfer across among your site, users and the internet. Hosting services with better systems, connections and networks usually offer higher bandwidth. Storage describes allowed data capacity for your website. Generally, an SME does not need more than 2GB of space.

The price

In addition to the signup cost, also be aware of renewal rates of both hosting and domain name and lookout for hidden obligations or fees.

Support

As a beginner, it is highly likely that you might experience glitches on your website.
You will want 24/7 customer service reps to help you resolve the issue as soon as possible to mitigate the adverse impact.

What we did

We chose Hostgator.

Step 3: Setup your domain name and website

Now that you have chosen a web and domain hosting service you will need to decide on and register a domain and setup your website.

Things to consider

In the matter of deciding on a domain name, you should consider not only a food name but the ending of your domain for example .com, .net, .co.uk, etc.

1. Designing a good domain name

1.1 Length

When considering a domain name, less is more. It is easier for users to type and remember shorter names. Names that require less reading are likely to stand out more. Aim for 6-14 characters or no more than three words

1.2 Brand name and website name

Your brand name and domain name should be the same, if not, as close as possible. This way, your branding effort would help grow your website. It also prevents confusion if people hear about your brand elsewhere and want to find you on the internet. 

1.3 Simplicity

Your domain name should be easy to pronounce, type and spell correctly. However, simplicity does not mean your name has to be boring nor it has to have a meaning. (Duduciuc and Ivan, 2015) Eg. Google, Bing, and Yahoo

2. Choose a domain name extensions (TLDs)

When choosing your TLD, one thing you can be sure is “.com” is the best option for businesses. The “.com” extension is probably easiest to recognize and the most common. You could also consider local extensions such as “.co.uk” and “.nl”. There are many more extensions available for you to discover.

Here are ways to deal with unavailable domain names.

You need to pay yearly to continue ownership of your domain name so you might want to learn more about expiration of domain.

2. Setup and register your website with a web hosting.

Now that you have everything ready, you can now setup your website with the hosting service

The following is a screenshot step-by-step of how we did it. 

Note that if your hosting service is not Hostgator, your step web hosting service might be slightly different.

2.1 Go to the HostGator hosting page and complete:

  1. Choose the plan (in our case the, the cheapest one)
  2. Choose a domain (we chose only “blogbrighton.com”)
  3. Uncheck “Add Domain Privacy”
  4. Choose your length of your plan (we chose the 1 month plan)
  5. Enter your information
  6. Add on services (Uncheck everything)
  7. Enter “startcode” or “savecode” in the coupon code (see which one gives you better discount)

2.2 Install WordPress by go to the Hosting tab and click Install WordPress

2.3 Put your domain in the box shown below

2.4 Fill in the information required. For “Blog title”, put your business name.

2.5 Save the information given in the final because you will need it to login as an admin. Congratulation, you now have WordPress ready website waiting for you to design

For a full video guide:

References

Cabot, J. (2018). WordPress: A Content Management System to Democratize Publishing. IEEE Software, 35(3), pp.89-92.

Duduciuc, A. and Ivan, L. (2015). BRAND NAMING: SOUND SYMBOLISM, BRAND PREFERENCE AND BRAND PERFORMANCE. STUDIES AND SCIENTIFIC RESEARCHES. ECONOMICS EDITION, (20).

Urgaonkar, B., Shenoy, P. and Roscoe, T. (2002). Resource overbooking and application profiling in shared hosting platforms. ACM SIGOPS Operating Systems Review, 36(SI), p.239.

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