A Quick Guide to the Web Design Process
Step 1: Choosing a Domain Name
You may already have the perfect domain name in mind, but if not, try to come up with a few ideas that are short, sweet, and easy to spell. Remember – you don’t want customers struggling to recall your domain, making it difficult for them to track you down online.
Once you’ve got the name, we need to check to see if someone else already owns it. You can do a quick search here. Just enter the domain you’d like and it’ll show up in green if it is available to purchase, or red if someone else already owns it.
Step 2: Buying the Domain Name
We usually recommend creating an account at GoDaddy – they have good prices and great customer service. Domains typically cost around $14.00 per year.
Other good domain registrars are HostGator and BlueHost. We don’t typically recommend Network Solutions – they usually require that you pay for customer service.
Need help buying a domain? As long as you put a credit card on file in your GoDaddy, HostGator or BlueHost account (or any other), and provide us with your login details, we can help you purchase your domain.
Step 3: Buying a Web Hosting Package
Web Hosting is basically like buying an online file cabinet in which your website’s files, photos and pages will be stored. Your domain name connects to your web hosting and that’s when the site ‘goes live’ and is up and running.
We recommend purchasing your web hosting package at the same company where you bought your domain, if possible – like GoDaddy, HostGator or BlueHost. It makes using the two products together a lot easier and faster in the long run.
Web hosting packages come in several sizes; for a small starter business, usually the least expensive option will be just fine. Costs vary but are typically around $8/month (amounting to about $96/year).
Need help choosing web hosting? As long as you put a credit card on file in your GoDaddy, HostGator or BlueHost account (or any other), and provide us with your login details, we can help you choose the correct packages or just go ahead and buy the correct items in your account for you.
Step 4: Creating Content
This is the toughest part of the process – creating the text content you’d like to appear on the website.
Pages like ‘About Us’, or a list of your services with details, and an overall introduction explaining what your company is and what it provides are essential.
Getting your contact details together at this stage is helpful – phone numbers, fax numbers, emails, an office address, etc.
Step 5: Images & Videos
A picture tells a thousand words. The next step is putting together several images to use on the website. If you already own photos or can take photos yourself, that’s great! Headshots of you or other team members, ‘action shots’ of your business in motion or a photo of your office are all great places to start.
Don’t have any photos of your own? That’s where stock photography comes in. Starting at around $5 per image (but beware that some photos can be priced at $30 or more each!), stock photos are great to use on your website. In order to use an image on your website, you must have permission from the photographer/owner of the photo, or else use a stock image.
Good sites to look for such images are iStock Photo, Shutterstock and 123rf (which doesn’t have amazing photos, but they are much more affordable.)
Most stock photo website require you to create an account and purchase a package of ‘credits’ that you can use to spend on the photos you want to buy. For instance, a photo might cost 1 credit, 2 credits, etc. and you’d spend credits from the package you initially purchased in order to buy it.
Step 6: Building the Foundation
Once we have all of the above pieces gathered together, we can start to lay the foundation of the website. At this point, we’ll take the elements and – based on our previous discussions of the colors, look and feel of the website – will create a first draft of sorts.
Once that’s done (which can typically take 1-2 weeks), we’ll send you a link to check out so you can see how the site is shaping up. You’re free to send over feedback, notes and changes for improvement, as well as any additional content you may have developed in that time.
Step 7: Fine Tuning the Site
After going back through to make the edits and changes you’ve requested, we’ll email you to let you know you can check on the progress again to make any additional changes.
Step 8: The site is live!
Once your site is all finished, you can start using it for marketing, tell customers about it, write blogs on the site and post them on social media, etc.
In terms of upkeep, there are certain simple tasks that you or a team member can update yourselves if you’re interested in learning (things like blogging, updating simple portions of text.) Any changes more extensive than that will likely need our help.