A website is complex. To the visitor, however, it should be clear, attractive and easy to navigate. Here is my roadmap to achieving that end.
Who are you? What are you? What do you want to accomplish with your site? Do you want to sell something? Do you want to present your skills and abilities to obtain work? Or perhaps you want to show off your work? Show off your yard and dog? Regardless of your purpose, once determined, it can be done.
Whether it is text, video or music, you will need content, otherwise referred to as “assets,” that communicate who and what you are. It may sound simple, but if you want your website to be discovered on the vast landscape of the internet, there is an axiom: Be honest and tell your story as it really is. Choose a domain name that is easy to remember and relevant to your site, and populate it with content that reflects who you are. If you don’t have your own content, I know a plethora of talented people and/or sites that can provide it, at an additional cost. Just ask.
Search engine optimization encompasses being honest about what your site is. Search engines have a vested interest in directing their users to the proper places, and properly worded text will help them find your site. Keywords are important. If you have a site that sells cheese, then it behooves you to mention cheese in a natural way in the text on your site. This link to Search Engine Optimization on Wikipedia is very informative.
Platform or interface simply refers to what is seen on a computer screen that is used to create your site. Common platforms are WordPress, Dreamweaver, Squarespace, Joomla, and Wix, to name a few.
Front of the House and Back of the House
I guarantee a tasteful, visually appealing consumer interface, and share a desire to have your site succeed for you. There are also machinations on your site that will not be visible to the visitor, but are critical in its smooth operation. SEO, or search engine optimization, mentioned above, is one of these behind-the-scenes construction elements. In addition, all images need ‘alt’ tags, which tell visually impaired persons what the image is, via a screen reader. Yes, blind people use the internet!
Forms? Maps? Yes!
You may find that your site requires, for example, a registration form to register participants and accept payment for a conference that you are organizing. I can make one. In addition, all the information you gather in the form can be handily downloaded into a spreadsheet for later use. Or perhaps you need a map to direct people to the conference? I can make that, too. Google Maps works great.
Drafts, Revisions and Testing
Once hired, I’ll incorporate your images and content into a ‘mock-up’ of your site. The next phase is truly collaborative, during which you are encouraged to provide feedback. Do you like the font? The color? The color of the font? The placement of the images? Changes are an integral part of the process of web development, and your input allows for a final result that is exactly what you want. Your site will also require testing to ensure that everything looks correct and that all links and navigation function properly. Be aware that this takes time, but is a crucial part of the process.
Verify Your Site
You will need to create accounts with Google, Bing and Yahoo (if you don’t already have them) so that I can verify your site with them. You will also need a site map submitted to Google, so that your site is properly indexed.
Google Analytics can help you understand the web traffic to your site. For example, what pages did people visit and for how long? Google AdWords can draw traffic to your site with Google Ads. You pay a small fee ‘per click’ when someone clicks on your ad, and in return, you receive important data about the traffic to your site, which allows you to adjust the ads accordingly.
My hourly rate is $80/hour. There is a multitude of variables in developing a site, so consult with me on the parameters of your project, and I can give you an estimate of total cost. This link to “20 Signs Your Web Designer Is Terrible” explains a lot. My apologies for the first image.