When it comes to building a new website there’s a lot to consider and keep track of. We’ve put together the below checklist to help you along the way.
* This is a working file, it will be updated often with new & revised information. If you have any suggestions or questions about the information, let us know in the comments section below.
Domain & Hosting
- Domain Name. One of the most important aspects of website ownership is your Domain Name. Your domain name acts as a sign post that points people in the right direction, to your website, or email accounts etc. Think of it like your phone number, the domain name must be unique and if it’s already taken then you’ll have to use something different. We suggest to our clients to purchase their Domain Name as soon as possible to make sure they don’t miss out, even if you don’t use it straight away.
- Website Hosting. Your website hosting is where your website files are located. You should always use website hosting that is geographically located in the same place as your website target audience. For example, if your website target audience is from New Zealand, don’t purchase hosting from the USA, even if it’s cheaper. However, you can get around the geographical issue by using a service called a CDN - Content Delivery Network. This is where your website files are stored on server all around the globe, which means your website will load like its local everywhere.
- SSL Certificate. The main use of an SSL Certificate is for website security. The Certificate acts as a secure encrypted bridge for information to pass between, from website hosting server to website user browser. Although optional in the past couple of years search engines have started to reward websites that include an SSL Certificate by giving the website a better search ranking. The Google Chrome web browser also notifies it's uses that a website that you are visiting is unsecure if an SSL Certificate is not installed on that website. Potentially scaring off website users to that site. ALL eCommerce websites should use an SSL Certificate due to the use of Credit Cards and personal information being transferred.
- Website Backups. No one needs a backup until you have a problem and then you need a backup! There are a range of automated services now where your website is backed up periodically. Make sure the backups are located off-site, and not on your website hosting location, encase something happens to your hosting.
Design & Layout
- Responsive Design. Everyday people are using their phones and tablets more and more to browse the internet, make purchases and communicate. So make sure your website is usable for all screen sizes. Text, images and page layouts need to resize and scale to fit the screen size.
- Clear Menu layout. If your website menu is confusing or doesn’t work correctly how can you expect your website visitors to navigate around your website successfully? A clear structure is important, so group related pages together.
- Keep your styling consistent. It can be easy to make text all different colours or fonts to highlight certain areas, but please don’t. Keep the website content easy to read and consistent with your company brand.
- Call to Actions. Your website pages should have calls-to-action that guide the website user toward the desired actions. For example: "Give us a call and schedule a meeting with the team”
- Contact Details. Always list your contact details on your website. Be that an email address, phone numbers, addresses or maps. If people want to contact you about your products or services and can’t find your details you’ve potentially lost a customer.
- Save for Web. Make sure every image is compressed before you add it to your website. Large images will slow down your website, and no one likes a slow website.
Search Engine Optismisation (SEO)
- Write Basic SEO. The Title and Description Meta Tags appear on Search Engine result listings, and help people see a preview of what the page is about. You should always write the Title and Description Meta Tags for each page. Title tags should begin with your target key phrase that relates to the page and then your company name, and be no longer than 55 characters long. Description tags need to include your keyphrase for the page, and be around 120 characters in length.
- Image Alt Tags. Search Engines and page readers use Image Alt tags to understand what the image is. The Alt tags should contain simple descriptions about the image and try to include a target keyword when relevant.
- Analytics. In order to understand if any future changes have an affect on website traffic and sales, you must first gather website statistics. We use Google Analytics to measure website traffic. Setup an account before you launch your new website, but this can be done at any point.
Before going live with your new website:
- Test any web forms and make sure they’re working.
- View the website on as many different web browsers and devices as possible and fix any layouts or errors that occur.
- Test your website speed and performance grades at Pingdom Tools and correct any relevant technical recommendations.
- Double test everything, and look for broken links.
After you launch your new website:
- Make sure Google Analytics is collecting data from visitors.
- Setup a Google Search Console account and submit a sitemap file. This will help Google index/find your website and pages.
- Update your website content. Just because the website is live doesn't mean it's finished. In order to keep a good search engine ranking you will need to frequently update the website with new content. Be that in the form of blog posts, new pages, update of existing content etc.