Web Design Process
Web Design is the process of creating websites to be displayed on the World Wide Web. You will need the following in order to have a website:
Register a Domain Name
A domain name is the name given to a website (e.g. YourBusiness.com). There are different types of domain names. The most popular domain names are .com, .info, .net and .org and they're considered top-level domains (TLDs). In order to register a domain name, one must go through a Domain Registrar (e.g. ENOM, Network Solutions, GoDaddy). We can register a domain name on your behalf if you like. There's a benefit in letting us do this which leads us to step two:
Setup Web & Email Hosting
Your website and email will need to be on server connected to the Internet. This needs to be an actual web server residing in a secure data center (e.g. MediaTemple, Rackspace). There are a lot of web hosting companies that offer different services and prices vary. In some cases cheaper isn't always better! Your hosting provider will give you an IP Address of your website and/or email. This address is the actual location of your server(s). You will need this information when creating your DNS records OR we can do it for you!
Creating DNS Records
Now that you have a domain name and a host to host your website, you need to connect the two. This is done via DNS (domain name server) records aka zone files. DNS records can be configured at your domain name. In short, there a set of instructions that resolve domain names to ip addresses. (e.g. www.YourBusiness.com > 188.8.131.52) The ip address is given to you by your web and email hosting provider. It's the server address of where your website or email resides online. DNS is what actually resolves www.YourBusiness.com and points it to your ip address. There are quite a few DNS records but I'll list the two main ones that you will need to direct to the ip addresses which your hosting provider gave you:
(A) Record - Website IP Address
(MX) Record - Email IP Address
Ok, so you have a domain name, web host and you have configured your dns to point to your web server ip address! Great, now let's design your website! Whether or not you want to design the website yourself or hire a web design company like Website Growers, your going to need a plan. The plan doesn't have to be as detailed as an architect schematic or a hi-res hotel, however you should give it more than 5 minutes of your time! A plan starts with a site map. A site map is where you outline the hierarchy of your website. For example, most sites have a Homepage, About Us, Products, Services, and Contact Us sections(pages). We recommend starting here and expanding each section. For example: About Us/History, Products/Product page 1, 2, 3 etc. We also recommend looking at your competitor sites or other websites you like for examples. Typically if you Google your biggest Product or Service keyword you will find out who's ranking #1 and there's a good chance they have a nice website which helps!
Next, you will want to jot down any features you want on your website (i.e. Contact Forms, Slideshows, Image Galleries, Social Media Links, Accepting Credit Cards, etc). This is important because it will likely determine what platform your website should be built on. Should it be built custom from scratch, should you use a CMS like WordPress or an eCommerce platform like BigCommerce. If you do need eCommerce website design, we recommend BigCommerce as it's the world's leading eCommerce platform. If you're new to eCommerce then we recommend hiring a web designer who has experience in this area. There is quite a bit involved. We can help execute your Merchant Accounts, Payment Gateways to Shipping, Product Options, & Filtering.
If you don't have a need for accepting credit card transactions online then you can probably rule out eCommerce. In that case, a WordPress website is probably best for you. WordPress is the world's most popular CMS (Content Management System). It's free to install on your web server, however it will need to be customized in order to look like the fancy WordPress websites you see online. This is where you may need a professional web designers help. Although WordPress is designed with pre-set templates, the inital setup and customization are a bit much for a newbie. It's similar to ordering a train set with hundreds of parts and then having to piece it together. The good news is WordPress is very flexible with thousands of themes and plugins to choose from. This really saves you a lot of money. In years past, business owners would have to pay web designers to develop these features which could easily triple the cost of website design.
Assuming you're in need of a web designer for help with your new website design, we want to see your site map and features. We will need to know this during the sales process in order to accurately quote and give recommendations. Assuming we are past that point and have started the project, we will be setting up your website platform and working with you directly via email and/or phone to publish your content (i.e. text, images, etc). We give our clients a link to the website during the design phase so they can monitor progress and comment during the process. Once the website pages, text, images and features are complete, tested and approved, we will take the website live.
Search Engine Optimization
Now that your website is designed it's time to tell the world it exists! The main person you want to tell is Google and you do this by Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is the art of optimizing your website to rank origanically on a search engine. "Organic," meaning the natural non-paid listings. Achieving high rankings is not easy, especially in competitive markets. We recommend using a SEO Company like Website Growers to assist with your sales leads. First, you will need to determine your keywords and phrases you want to rank for (e.g. Widgets, Widgets in MD). We recommend brainstorming and jotting down these on paper.It will help guide us in finding the most online traffic for your unique services. Make sure you include keywords for services and products are your competitor may not have. We can help you in this area as we use a variety of SEO tools to tell us what people are searching for, how many times they search, and what the competition looks like. After the keywords are determined, the site needs to be optimized to target the keywords. Today, optimization is a lot more than just editing the keywords meta tag. Unfortunately most search engines don't even count that anymore! They count Meta Title Tags, Meta Description Tags, H1 Headings, body content, internal links, content length, anchor text, etc. We just summarized on-site optimization, but we also must go off the site and setup backlinks pointing to your website. Not just any old link will do. The links should be relevant to the content on your website. This is a tricky task, but we can help in this area.
Once the site is optimized and links are in place you will want to track ROI. Most companies use Google Analytics to track visitors and metrics. We install Google Analytics on every site we design/build. In addition, we use Google Search Console to submit a site map of your pages to Google. This lets Google know your site is ready to be indexed and tells us if there are any issues. Professional SEO companies like ours use an array of SEO tools to monitor rankings, links, competitors, etc. We send our clients rankings reports on request and use the data to make updates and recommendations. Search Engine Marketing is an on-going never ending task. If your website sits and is never updated your rankings will decline. Google wants to see fresh current content so keep this in mind. And, last but not least content is king. The more relevant content you have on your website that is geared towards the keywords you are targeting, the better your chances of ranking higher on Google.