So you’ve come to the conclusion that you need a website.  Now what?  Here are the top 4 tips that will help you through the website design process.

1. Know your needs/wants & your timeline for completion

I’m not expecting you to know it all, but you need to do your research!

  1. Know what pages you need
  2. Know when you want the project completed
  3. Find your competition, know you audience

A guy calls one day and wanted me to basically develop a website exactly like Monster.com.  Do your RESEARCH, find out what competition exists and know what you ultimately want your website to do, whether that’s selling items, educating visitors or providing services.

2. Decide how you want to handle email

Email can be one of the biggest headaches for a web designer or hosting company.

  • Do you need large mailbox sizes?
  • Do you want mailboxes or just forwards?
  • What are your Spam filtering needs?

Do you have a company with 30 email accounts that need to be able to send large attachments?  Services such as GMail & YahooMail are dramatically increasing their mailbox sizes.  GMail gives it’s Standard and Education Edition storage 2GB’s and it’s Premier Edition users get a whopping 25 GB (up from 10 GB)!  That makes it really hard for small design & hosting companies to compete.  These are all things to keep in mind.

3. Get yourself a logo & examples of other websites you like or dislike

Feedback is king! And a logo is one of the most important parts of your marketing & branding, make sure it’s in vector format.

  • Note: In some cases your logo will greatly influence the color scheme of your website.
  • Know what colors you think you want, dark or light, I hate red, etc.
  • Find examples of web sites that you like or dislike.

Maybe you like the navigation of one and the color of the sidebar on another.  All this will help your designer when it comes to the creative process!

4. Internet Marketing & Search Engine Optimization, Do you need it?

Whether or not you need Marketing and SEO depends on your target market and your budget.

  • What’s your target market?
  • Are you selling products nationwide or just making a site for the local gun club?
  • There are plenty of ways to market your website that are free like Facebook, Twitter & Blogging but they all take YOUR TIME.

Ask yourself, do you have 5 hours a week to devote to marketing your website?  Keep in mind; marketing your site on a local level is much easier than nationwide because you just don’t have as many competitors!