A simple listing of some things you need to consider for your website development – whether you plan to do it yourself or hire a professional (in no particular order):
Your navigation should be intuitive.
Develop user-friendly navigation for your website. Even if you have 100s of website pages, you’ll need a good way to logically organize your site’s content so that every page can be easily found. This could be accomplished by creating sections and then using drop down or sliding menus. Using WordPress or other content management (CM) systems is also a great way to organize your website content and implement sensible, user friendly navigation.
Let visitors know how to contact you.
A simple contact link or icon placed prominently on every page of your website is essential. Providing a reliable point of content is one of the most essential pieces of information on your website.
Write good content.
If this seems overwhelming just start by writing something. Let’s say you’re a plumber and the last thing on your mind is writing content for your website. Well, no one knows your business like you do so you’re the one who has to start the process (you can have a professional refine your content later).
Start by writing a few paragraphs of content for each page of your website, considering each page as a new opportunity to find visitors. Write meaningful text that focuses on only the subject for that page. Don’t rely on photos – good, compelling text will not only make major search engines take notice but will provide you with more qualified leads. Use photos to enhance your content.
One more piece of advice: don’t be a perfectionist. Writing decent, informative content is better than writing nothing.
Understand what web standards are all about.
Well yes, this part should really be left up to the professionals but if you’ve found that website development and coding is an untapped source of enjoyment for you then by all means, dive right in! It’s important to understand what web standards mean, and how these standards will impact your website. It’s more than ensuring that your HTML validates, that you code without tables or that you effectively separate the code and layout from the content—web standards are also about accessibility and understanding who your visitors are and ensuring that everyone has an equal opportunity to view your website. For a good lowdown on web standards visit this site.
Code in HTML5 and CSS3.
That’s where it’s at nowadays if you want to be on top of things with website development. HTML5 is the latest markup language that is being used today and has a lot of new features to offer. Don’t know how to code in HTML5? Hire a professional website developer or learn how to do it yourself.
Maintain a site map page.
And have a link to it in your navigation. A good, HTML site map page can be an essential landing page for visitors looking for something on your website, especially if it’s a larger website. A good site map page can also provide the search engines with important information that can be used to improve your rankings over time. It’s important to ensure that your site map page is kept up to date as you make changes to your website. Click here to find out more about the reasons for using a sitemap.
Sites maps are still important today, and the XML Sitemap is still important for the major engines like Google.
Don’t forget to write Meta descriptions.
One of the more important Meta tags, the Meta description tag allows you to control how your page intro text is displayed in search results. A well written Meta description (for each page) can influence whether or not visitors decide to actually visit that page of your website.
Go clean or go professional.
If you envision a website using high-end graphic design and you don’t have the skills to deliver, you’ll need to hire a professional website developer who can do this for you. If you plan to develop the site yourself and your design skills are limited, keep it clean and purchase what you need online to enhance your site’s design. If you don’t have a budget and can’t hire a professional website developer, consider installing an open source (free) content management system like WordPress and use a free theme for starters. You may not start with a unique brand, but if you are determined to start with no money down, you’ll be assured of a decent outcome.
Reduce the clutter.
One would assume cluttered websites with animated gifs and bold centered text went out a very long time ago, but conduct a search via Google today and you can still find these websites everywhere. Nothing says “I don’t care what you think about my business” more than an outdated, unappealing website.
Lose the fluff.
Limit the use of “cool stuff” on your site, like too much animation, heavy slide shows, sound that can’t be turned off, etc. Don’t use too many badges or just plain stuff that really has no value to your website’s visitors. Visitors are mostly an intelligent bunch, and they are interested in what you have to offer so give it to them straight up. Besides, all that stuff usually translates into a higher website development cost for you, with no real ROI.
Keep load times in check.
Keep your file sizes manageable, limit animation, use your .htaccess file to implement rules encouraging a cleaner loading site, and take advantage of some of the free tools available to test your site and learn how to optimize it. Remember: if it takes more than an average of 6 seconds to load a web page you’ve probably lost at least half of your potential audience. Seriously. Check out this handy tool to see if your website loads quickly enough.