10 steps to website development (simplified)

Your website plugs you into a global community or your neighborhood, the option is yours.Creating a successful website can be overwhelming. The same goes for updating or improving your existing website. It can feel like a huge undertaking, you may feel like you don’t even know where to start.

The good news; with a little fore-thought, research and planning, creating a website can actually be a very manageable and enjoyable process.

Just like starting a 5000 piece puzzle, separating similar elements and taking it one piece at a time can simplify everything.

Let's break apart the process and ask a few questions to help you get a clearer vision of what you really want and/or need. Sometimes what you want, may not actually be what you need, only answering the following questions will help you choose the best path for your new site.

1. purpose and goals

Determine the true purpose of having a website.

2. regional market analysis

This is possibly the most important part of all your marketing strategies. While the Internet maybe global, if you are relying on local sales and traffic, you need to cater to your neighborhood.  A successful business knows as much as possible about any other business that may siphon off profits or potential customers.

3. choosing the right domain name

Choosing your domain name to specifically highlight the products or services that you offer is critical to the success of your website from all your marketing efforts.

4. prioritize tasks, design, functionality and content

Determine what is critical for your website today. Write down what you need now, versus later. Leaving yourself room to grow can be part of a powerful marketing strategy

5. site pages, content and features

6. diy vs. hiring a professional

Decide if you want to create a website yourself or if you want to outsource the development and design to an expert. Most DIY website building tools are now made with small business owners in mind, and do not require coding or design skills. Non-technical people can achieve a professional-looking result just by following the online instructions included with a good DIY tool.

The biggest issue with the DIY sites however, is control. Many of the DIY site builders like WIX, Google, GoDaddy and SiteBuilder allow you to enter your information, but changing content, ordering or even menus and logos can become a challenge. Also adding scripts, embeds, maps or video can be difficult without an understanding of basic CSS or HTML.

Another issue with the DIY website builder is the design component. Professional designers have studied color theory, typography and basic page layout to entice the viewer to do certain things. For instance, a predominantly red site provokes "action" and heightened energy, blues and greys a more muted professional feel, etc.. There is actually a science to it and if put together amaturishly, results could be less than favorable.

7. plan and develop content

Determine what website content is essential and create it. This is possibly the most difficult and time consuming part of the entire process, but it is also the most critical. SEO tricks come and go, but solid content will always be the factor that converts visitors to customers. Be brief but thorough, clear and consistent in your message. Understand exactly what the message is you're trying to convey. If you don't completely understand it, neither will your visitors.

8. promote your site!

Think about how your visitors will find your website. How would you look for your services on Google or Yahoo if you did not know about you?

9. track your performance

Understand how your website is performing and who is coming to your site. Website analytics can yield great insights into what you need to do more of, or what you need to change. You can install an external analytics program, or use one provided by your website builder tool or hosting company.

10. your website is alive, feed it!

Continually adding relevant and interesting content will ultimately keep your visitors coming back to your site, thus increasing the potential to convert them to customers.