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How to create your website

There are many aspects to web design, development, optimization and promotion. Say, you have a limited budget. What do you spend your money on?

First of all, let's list see what all is it that you can spend on:

Quite a number of things to do for your website, eh? Of course, most of the above can be done before or during the design process. The key here is to make sure you have a solid foundation before you start working further on your website.

Customer research

Generally, you should know your industry and customers better. Though you should also take into account what all you have to offer, what you actually will offer is determined by demand.

When you select your niche, you should have good knowledge about your customers. What you need to know is:

  • where they live
  • what they buy your product or service for
  • the needs that motivate them buy your product/service
  • the meta-needs that drive their obvious desires
  • the factors that influence your customers behavior

Simply put, you need to know why is it your customers will buy from you. Then you need to build your site around the answer to this question.

Site structure

When it comes to site structure, it should be developed according to how your customers prefer to categorize the content you have on your site. For instance, e-commerce websites should offer multiple ways to sort the products to satisfy more customers.

It is also a good idea to have clear click paths by designing for the scent of information. For example, a homepage should be crafted to show what all you have in the best light.

Obviously, it'd be better for a professional web designer to develop your site structure.

Graphical design

Based on your customers perception and your site and page structure, a graphical web designer should create a graphical layout. A good idea is to keep web site speed in mind.

As site appeal and look matter, it's a good idea to spend as much as it is required to receive quality work. A good way to find the right designer is to find websites you like and contact the designer.

Web development

Based on the graphical layout, your web developer will create HTML/CSS templates. It is a good idea to separate styling and content with CSS to make the site load faster and edit the site easily. Generally, the future is about CSS-based layouts.

If you have the budget, you may want to have a quality web developer, who will also use semantically correct markup on your website. It will not only make the site more usable and accessible, but will also give you a slight boost in the SERPs.

Keyword research

Generally, keyword research to site content is what customer research to site development.

Of course, keyword research should also take customer research into your account as well. The keywords you will choose will determine how your visitors will understand and find your site. You can do the keyword research yourself or use a SEO developer, depending on the time and money you want to spend on this important aspect of website development.

Copywriting

After you understand what drives your customers to your site and to make their purchase decisions and after you know your keywords, you can write content for your website. It may be a good idea to hire a copywriter, if you aren't well versed with words, or it will take some time for you to learn how to write.

Search engine optimization

Generally, you can SEO your site yourself. All you need is to visit various SEO forums and subforums (Cre8asiteforums, Search Engine Watch, SEO Refugee, etc) and read the articles and blog posts about SEO optimization. It will take at least a year to learn the ropes not to rely on the professionals. Or you can use SEO optimization services.

If you have a local retail (brick & mortar) shop, you can optimize your website to get local traffic as well. Or you can use local search engine optimization services :)

Internet marketing

Just building a site isn't enough to sell your product or service. You'll need to promote it as well. You may consider building reputation and links with quality content, too.

Naturally, you should focus on providing value with everything you do to get the highest possible return.

Website usability

You can make your site usable to gain the extra competitive advantage over your online competition. As it is not yet as popular, you will be way ahead of your rivals.

You can make your site usable before, during or after the design. If you tell your web designer to pay attention to website usability, chances are that your site will be more usable from the start. However, the designer will need to know the usability principles, and such a designer will most likely cost more.

Of course, you can learn usability and correct the existing website. Nothing wrong with that, really, except for you'll need to spend at least a year on learning usability as well. You can hire a website usability consultant to speed up the process. In the current market situation, this may be one of the smartest business decisions.

Website accessibility

Website accessibility is even more overlooked than website usability. Not only you can gain another advantage with an accessible website, website accessibility is a legal requirement in the US, UK and will be such in Europe as well.

Most likely, you'll need to hire a specialist to improve you site accessibility. It won't take long and will give you the advancement you need in today's competitive market.

What can I do myself?

In reality, you can do yourself the following:

  • customer research
  • keyword research
  • copywriting
  • search engine optimization
  • website usability
  • website accessibility

Though you can research your customers more or less easily and without a lot of prior education, you'll need some time to learn keyword research, copywriting, SEO, usability and accessibility. Hiring a website optimization developer might be the right choice to save your time and get quality work as well.

What to pay for most?

Here are website development aspects that you want to invest in the order of importance:

  • graphical design
  • web development
  • keyword research
  • copywriting
  • search engine optimization
  • website usability
  • website accessibility
  • website promotion

The list is ordered in the complexity and the importance of the aspects. Though you can do some things yourself, as noted from the above section, you'd rather entrust the most important parts of website development to the professionals to achieve the highest results.

Summing up

When developing your website, it is vital to understand that you won't have to spend on some components for a while, such as graphical design and web development. That's why you need to make sure you get the highest quality work there.

Though you can study other aspects yourself by spending months reading articles and blog posts, you should consider hiring a specialist to do all the website optimization work. This way you will be able to devote to other aspects of your business that you know better than others and have an effective website, too.

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Comments

When you have your web site, are you able to see who is looking at it???
Is there records of who comes and goes on your site???
Thanks for your time!
Marina

It depends on how much details you want to know about them, Marina.

All stats software let you the IP of the visitor and tell you their country (sometimes also a town) of the visitor. If the visitor used a proxy, it will only tell you the city, where the proxy is located, not the visitor.

Some stats software let you send a message to the visitor of your website (with Woopra) or at least see the IPs of visitors, who are currently visiting your website (Crazyegg. Clicky). Some also let you see the paths (the pages) that the visitors use.

You can try: getclicky.com, haveamint.com, woopra.com, crazyegg.com etc. CrazyEgg is mostly a worthy addition to any other service, not a replacement.

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