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In today’s day and age, having an online presence is essential. Twitter, Facebook, and most importantly your own website contribute to your presence on the internet. Your website is the online embodiment of your company, and for most of your customers it will be the first point of contact. Only if your website is executed properly will you go beyond that first contact!

While is not meant to be fear mongering, there are important steps that need to be taken to assure that your website accomplishes what you need it to and secures clients. Building a website can be easy; the key is making sure you have everything in order going into the build and keep on top of it throughout the process.

1. Know What You Want

Having the initial vision and goals for your site nailed down will save you headaches, time, and by effect, money. When you hire your web developer, they will translate any and all ideas for your website into a digital reality. But if you don’t have a relative vision in mind, then how could a developer efficiently give you a successful website?.

Examples of goals for a website to consider:

- Educate my customers about my business

- Help my customers contact me more easily

- Inform customers of product available

While items on this checklist may seem simple to implement, not having them on the to-do list from the beginning increases the overall resources used by the end of the project.

2. It Costs More Than You Think

There is an occasional misconception that a website costs no more than a few hundred dollars. While it is possible to have a budget like this for a site, there are not many who would be pleased with the end result.

The actual cost of a website can be anywhere from $3,000 to $6,000 and upward. Cost is determined by many factors, such as number of pages, functionality features, and custom integrations to external services. For some, these numbers may come as a surprise, but it holds true that you get what you pay for in this case.

3. It Will Take Longer Than You Think

10-12 weeks is the average time is takes to build a website from the day approval is gained and the discovery process begins to the final site being launched. Why does it take such a seemingly long time?

The 10-12 weeks can be broken down into three one-month phases with each month focusing on a specific phase including its revisions. The three phases are Discovery, Design, and Development. Each phase allocates two weeks initial work and two weeks of revisions.

Having a precise vision for the site helps immensely in this stage as the developer is able to be more specific in their approach and design the first time around, and this reduces the revision time. Also, having the content –images, text, etc.–ready for the site will mean there is hardly any downtime from when work on the website is completed to when it’s a fully running website.

4. Don’t Cut Corners

Design, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and any needed functionality are all items that should be done properly the first time around. It is not ideal to launch a website with an existing list of things that need to be added or altered, especially features that could make or break your site.

Proper design will keep visitors on the page, while quality SEO will ensure that visitors will find your page easily with search engines like Google. Potentially the most important is launching your site with all the intended features. Whether these features allow users of the site to do something like make an appointment or use online bill pay, the value of these features to your customers could be worth more than the week or two setback caused by delaying the launch of the unfinished site.

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5. Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Should

Website design has come a long way since its humble origins. These days, it’s not so much a question of  “Can we do X,” it’s more along the lines of “Which approach would you like to use to achieve X.” However, if you take a step back for a moment, you may be able to eliminate the need for a certain aspect or feature..

This could be a transition, animation, or potentially a further breakdown of services that is excessively detailed.This isn’t to say that there is not a time and place for any of the prior examples, but the point is to give each decision the proper forethought. This ensures that each page will be utilized to the fullest, and if it can’t be, then we take the steps to bring that functionality or information to another page.

6. A Content Management System (CMS), like WordPress, Isn’t Always the Answer

While Wordpress is an excellent option to have when building a website, it isn’t always the perfect route to choose. WordPress can be great for blogs, e-commerce sites, and portfolio sites as well as other uses, but building these websites within WordPress is not always the best choice.

Another platform may be a better fit because WordPress sites sometimes look generic and lack the flexibility that certain sites demand. WordPress is a tool. Tools are helpful only when you put them to work properly. Sure, a hammer is useful, but you wouldn’t use to to put in a screw, hopefully.

When choosing a platform for the site, it becomes a question of whether WordPress is the right tool to build your site. Always take a moment to weigh the decisions or ask your web developer to chime in with their expertise. Taking the time to reach the best decision now will save time and energy as the site progresses.

To read more about this topic, check out article on “WordPress isn't Always the Answer.”

7. Sites Need Maintenance: Plan For It!

Your site launches, business is booming, you’re having an after party, and everything is going great. Everything will continue to go great as long as your site is properly maintained.

Just like your computer and apps for your phone, website components have updates that boost performance, fix bugs, and more importantly fix security issues. These updates are essential to keeping your site running at peak performance while keeping everything on lockdown from potential attackers.

The updates themselves are usually a click away, and are super easy to install! The caveat is that sometimes these updates can cause other components on the site to have issues or stop working entirely. It’s surprises like this that show why ongoing maintenance is crucial to avoid any lasting headaches.

The most straightforward way to go about properly maintaining your site is to ask the company that built your website if they have a maintenance package. A package of this sort would include their team visiting the site to do all the updates and ensure everything is working as intended once all is updated. This system is easy, straightforward, and keeps your website running - no questions asked.

Why Do All These Tips Matter?

It is becoming increasingly important to not only have a website, but to have it conceptualized, developed, and maintained properly. Businesses that do not secure an online presence may find themselves slipping behind competition in their industry as a result of this one discrepancy. By staying informed on these topics and using the knowledge to improve the quality of your online presence, your business may take off in an exciting and new way.