The 10 Steps to building a new website from scratch

In: Web Design |
22/07/11 |

Online marketing starts with a quality website. It is the place where existing and potential customers will arrive and make crucial decisions about a company’s image, trustworthiness, products and services.

Building a website from the ground up is a great opportunity to create a successful element in a company’s marketing inventory and following a structured build process can dramatically improve the quality and efficiency of the eventual outcome.

At WebPraxis web design Manchester, we have spent a number of years perfecting our web development process to provide a better, more efficient service time after time.

1. Initial meeting with the client

The start of our process involves a preliminary meeting with the client. We will make sure we get to know as much about the company as we can, including, their product/service range, target market and any direct competitors that they are aware of. We also make sure we give the client the chance to ask us any questions.

2. Keyword & Competitor research

After the initial consultation with a client, the next stage in the web site build process is to analyse our clients’ business:

  • Perform a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) of the company to give a clear summary of what we need to build on, as well as identify any opportunities there may be to take advantage of.
  • Make lists of possible keywords related to the sector the client operates in.
  • Identify direct competitors. Analyse their websites to find any trends in design and content.
  • Use the Google Adwords Keyword tool to discover suitable keyword phrases to target.

3. Architecture

Once a substantial list of keywords has been put together and competitor research has been completed we then go on to developing the structure of the website in a thematic sitemap. The sitemap is a visual interpretation of the architecture of a website, usually in hierarchical form. We will use the information we gained from the keyword research to decide what topics/areas to create pages and content on.

After a sitemap has been compiled, we then work with the client to develop content that includes appropriate keywords before we go on to putting together a website wireframe; this document depicts the site’s layout and positioning of content and page elements and allows us to go into the design process with a better understanding of what needs to be done.

4. Design

The design stage of the build involves using our newfound knowledge of the clients’ market and its competitors to put together a website which is relevant to its purpose as well as being designed in a way that puts the content where it is most useful to the user. It is also key to keep the design consistent with any offline branding and to successfully portray the company’s message.

5. Development

Now that the design has been finalised and approved we will make a start on coding the website. We follow industry best practices, making sure that all sites validate to the WC3 web standards.

6. On-site SEO

Once the design has been coded and validated, we can then turn our attention to increasing the exposure of our clients’ website.

  • Create informative, original and relevant content.
  • Manage duplicate content.
  • Place keywords in page and article titles.
  • Implement social media functionality.
  • Make the navigation simple and easy to use.
  • Include a sitemap.
  • Make sure all calls to action are above the page fold.

7. Social Media integration

Now an integral part of almost every search engine marketing and optimisation arsenal, social media is one of the most effective ways of reaching out to a wider audience as well as improving rankings in popular search engines. In recent revisions of the Google search algorithm, social media websites now make more of a contribution to the ranking of your website, making them highly important in your marketing campaigns. Also, the recent launch of Google+ and the +1 feature plays a significant part in improving search rankings and puts more of an emphasis on internet users recommending websites.

As mentioned previously, it is recommended to integrate social media functions such as Facebook ‘Like’, Twitter ‘Follow’, LinkedIn and Google ‘+1’buttons into articles and blog posts.

8. Analytics

Analytics are a vital part of our process. We use Google’s free analytics service to evaluate the progress of our projects, see where we can improve and also where we are doing well. Google Analytics allows you to monitor a wide range of statistics about your site’s visitors and be able to identify lower performing pages in need of further optimisation.

9. Launch

The launch of a new website is a great opportunity to generate company interest. Build links from other sites by submitting press releases and articles to popular PR sites and ones related to the clients’ field of business. Again, making use of social media at this stage is highly effective. Another possible interest generating technique is to run an online competition via social media sites to encourage involvement early on.

10. Ongoing site monitoring and further optimisation

After the launch of any site, we always make sure we keep a close eye on its progress and monitor its performance. This stage is valuable to the success of a web project because it is impossible to see exactly how well a specific website will perform until after it is launched. We keep track of recently launched projects using Google analytics and other tools to analyse and evaluate high performing and lower performing areas of a site.

Now is the time to put any findings into effect and optimise less successful parts of the website. This could be a case of making pages more targeted to different keywords which attract higher traffic, or optimise the content and layout of lower performing landing pages.