How to Design and Create a Website

One:  What Do You Need a Website For?

  • To simply have an online brochure for your company?
  • To generate leads?
  • To sell something?  If so, just a few things?  A whole line of products?  A membership or subscription to your site or content?
  • To build an audience via news feeds, newsletters subscribers or social media followers?

Two: Design Your Site

The next step is to figure out what your site will look like, what information it will contain and how it will link together.

  • Layout: using a computer program or old fashion pen and paper - lay out the design of each page of the site - this is called a wire frame.
  • Functionality: figure out the functionality you need - contact forms, social media links, newsletter sign up forms to simple buttons.  And the biggest of all - shopping carts!
  • Structure: determine how many pages you need.  Examples include "About Us", "Contact", "Portfolio", "Services", etc.  How many pages you want or need will have a direct impact on cost of website.
  • Styling: each page will need to be styled with it's own graphics, images and buttons.  Brainstorm about each element on the page, what purpose it serves and how prominent it's place must be.

Three: Create What's Going In It

  • Every page must have content - if you don't have that you'll have to look to outside sources.
  • Simple copy is usually around $150-$200 per page.

Four:  Build It

  • Do you need a logo or other graphic design work done?  If you are doing a slider or other types of images - do you have the photography?
  • If you have wireframes and content - the design process becomes much easier as the designer only has to worry about about the look and feel - not organization and structure.
  • When using WordPress, this is where you pick the theme.  If you want to use a one out of the box and not have to do much customizing - it is much easier to find what you need when you know what you need it to look like and contain.

Five: Take it Live

Once development is done, the site is often all yours.  Things to help make this happen:

  • Documentation
  • Training

Six:  Keep it Working

All websites must be kept up to date and periodically updated in order to meet the following needs.

  • Security:  security must constantly be updated and monitored as new hacks are always being created and being hacked is extremely bad for business
  • SEO: In order to keep Google finding you - fresh content is essential but how much more do you need?  Sites created on WordPress tend to already have a leg up but there are tools you can use to get the website ready for SEO.  These included added hyper-targeted keywords to titles, descriptions, alt tags and header tags, submitting an XML site map to search engines and optimizing your links.
  • Competition:  is always up to something new as you should be paying attention.
  • Trends: people are always looking for the newest trend so make sure your site looks up to date from a visual and design point of view.

Set Costs of Running a Website

Not only do you need to pay a developer to create and maintain the website, but there are also certain costs associated with this process.

  • Domain Name:  If you don't already own your domain name -you'll need to find one and register it.  This runs about $5-10 a year.  Our recommended sites for this are name.com, namecheap.com and gandi.net.
  • Hosting Your Website: Shared hosting will generally cost  you $60-100 a year.  There are thousands of companies out there but check with your developer to see what they use.  Mettler Solutions uses Site5 for our smaller sites and a variety of others (Digital Ocean, PythonAnywhere, LiquidWeb) for bigger projects depending on the type of system.
  • Theme:  $50-200.  Depending on the type of premium theme you choose.  You can opt to go with a free theme but you are generally more limited with your ability to customize or change the theme.  Mettler Solutions recommends using the Genesis Framework and either providing custom changes or then using a Genesis Child theme.
  • Plugins:  This completely depends on your needs.  One of the strengths of WordPress is the large number of plugins available for almost any purpose:  forms, security, sliders, page building, etc.  Usually, you can find an open-source plugin to use.  However, the best plugin for your site might be a premium one.  Here at Mettler Solutions, we couldn't live without Gravity Forms and find it well worth it's price.