As a website developer I find myself answering similar questions on my first meeting with nearly every client: What are the components? How will we tackle this project? What else is involved? What do these words mean?
Site design, architecture, content, platform, hosting, SEO strategy, social media strategy and development are all critical. If they could talk, each of them would be as determined and as demanding as a vociferous 3 year-old “But I am the most important factor! Nothing else would work or be worthwhile without me! Spend your time and money on me, Me, ME!” Just like dealing with 3 year-olds, we need to consider and pay attention to each of them, but we also need to take our own decisions based on the overall priorities and goals of the project.
The look and the feel: color palette, fonts and layout. the width of the site, colors of the background, the height of the header, the width of the sidebar, the borders of the pictures, the layout of the menu,. Hopefully you will LOVE the design of your site, and feel that it is a strong visual representation of your brand and message.
If you were building a house, the design would be the cohesion of the external appearance – the style of the building and the choice of finishes, interior and exterior, the flooring, cabinetry, drapes etc
Site Architecture – shown through the Site Map
The list of pages that you plan to put into the site, and how they fit under the menu tabs.
For a building, the list of rooms and the function of each room.
The text and pictures that you intend to put into each page. Hopefully, your content will be planned to blend in well with your design.
Like furniture and personal possessions – the content of a room can change as often as you want.
Choosing a platform is like choosing one building method over another – there is no universal right or wrong, but there is a right choice for your needs: wood frame, steel frame, high rise, bungalow, office building, below ground, above ground… As a website owner, ask enough questions of your web developer to feel confident of the platform they are advising you to build on.
Where you are going to place your site after it is built – the code alone is just a pile of code. It needs a server that will be up 24/7.
The plot of land where your building sits.
Search Engine Optimization. Work done to and about your site to push it towards the holy grail of a Page One Google Ranking.
Onsite SEO – work done on your site to make sure that the words people search on are well represented on your site.
Offsite SEO – Links from other sites to your site.
Here are some of the most important points about SEO
1. Google uses about 200 factors in ranking a page.
2. There is no silver bullet – there is no ‘one thing’ anyone can do to improve your sites SEO but many steps, all working together.
3. SEO includes everything you can control on your site, some things you can impact off your site and a lot that you cannot control off your site.
For a commercial building: the signage in the building explaining every room, the signage outside explaining the purpose and the links in directories and maps to help you get there. Print, Radio and TV Ads that you pay for to bring people in.
Social Media Strategy
How you plan to promote your site through Blogging, Facebook, Twitter et al.
For a company in a building – getting your company promoted through business networks, chamber of commerce, conferences, print articles, radio and TV coverage.
Once you and your web developer have decided on the Design, Site Map, Platform, Content, Hosting and SEO strategy, they can go off into their own tech world and build your site, already.
In building construction, this is the time that the contractors move in with their team.