Posted: 11th May 2015
Catherine Buchanan runs two web-based businesses. We asked her to point out the main issues when launching a website
First, decide exactly it is you want your website to do. Is it an advert or an interactive sales opportunity? An on-line advertisement is a good idea as long as it opens quickly and is easy to use. ‘Contact Us’ information should be easy to see and easy to use. If people have to hunt for information they will go elsewhere.
If you are going to get business from the web it is vital that search engines can read your site. The layout of the site and the type of language is vital. Before you start consult a specialist in internet marketing to make sure your site can be read by internet crawlers. Never presume your web designers know anything about this side of the business.
Anybody can set them selves up as a web designer. Go by personal recommendation, but make sure the person who recommends the designer knows what sort of site you want. Ask designers what type of sites they have designed. Examine them.
Remember it is your site and your business will depend on it. If you can’t work it then 50% of people who try and use it will not be able to! We found the most computer illiterate person we know and asked them to do the basics. It was one of the best things we did. It showed us the problems we had missed.
Make sure you have a contract that ties the designer down, especially on completion date and price.
If your provider is also going to supply support make sure you have a contract for weekends. If they do not return your call during the design stage, dump them immediately. They certainly will not be available on a Saturday afternoon when your site is down. Make sure your back-up agreement is for all services – don’t be fobbed off with you should contact X,Y or Z. That is what they are paid for. This is vital if you are taking money – people don’t return if the site doesn’t work.
When you eventually choose a website name, purchase all of the others on the list -.co.uk, .net etc. We decided not to renew one of our names and now it is being used as an advertising site for rival businesses.
Your site is a shared project – you, the designer, the host of the server, your bank and your secure money taker.
If you want to take money make sure the designer has a good relationship with your service providers and the other people in the loop. Ensure that the chain is complete.
Web design and building takes time and lots of checking – make sure you know what you want the site to do. Look at other sites and see if they are doing the same thing. If it can be done and you want it done then make sure you get it your way.