Website Check List
Your Address on the Web
A domain name or URL is the web address where people will find your website (example: www.mywebsite.com). If you wish to register your domain name yourself, there are many companies (called domain registrars) that offer this service. You’ve probably heard of some of them like, GoDaddy, HostGator or Dreamhost.
If you’re interested in more than one domain name, multiple domains can be redirected to a single web address. And domain names are inexpensive, a domain typically cost around $10-12 per year.
- I recommend purchasing your domain name and web hosting (see below) from the same company. If any problems should arise with your website, it’s easier to troubleshoot the issue within a single account. Plus it’s more convenient to only have to keep track of one username and password.
- It’s a good idea to purchase your domain name and web hosting for multiple years. Typically, there is a discount for multi-year purchases. If you decide to go with a single year only, be sure your account is set to ‘auto-renew’ (usually the default setting), and keep your credit card information current. I’ve received many a frantic phone call from clients freaking out because their website was down. In most cases, their credit card had expired and they had failed to update their payment method. Also, don’t ignore emails from your web host. Web hosting companies love to send emails, mostly attempting to sell add-on services. This is understandably confusing and can cause people to tune out. I encourage my clients to forward me emails for their web host so I can review them. Better safe than sorry.
Where your website files live.
When someone enters your domain name into their browser, the browser knows (based on your web address) where to locate the computer that houses your website files. This computer is called a web server. Your website files then load from the web server into their browser window.
For small business websites, shared hosting can be a good option. Shared hosting servers house many websites, therefore your hosting plan will less expensive. Hosting packages generally start at $8-10 per month. If you don’t have a ton of traffic and are looking for an economical option, this may be right for you. There can be a downside — because the server host many websites, it can take longer for your website to load, depending on the volume of traffic. If your server consistently runs slow, your web host should be able to locate the problem and resolve the issue.
Dedicated Server Hosting
If you have a large website, an e-commerce site, or a website with a high traffic, you should consider a dedicated server. You’ll have an entire computer dedicated to just your website. Benefits included; higher performance, security, stability and control. However, dedicated hosting can be significantly more expensive than shared hosting. Hosting plans typically start at around $100 per month.
Logos, artwork and website content
You’ll need a logo for branding purposes. Typically, a logo appears in the upper left corner of the website and also functions as a link to the homepage. You should provide your logo in a vector based format (.ai, .eps, .pdf). Other “flattened” formats (.jpg, .tif) may work, but could require Photoshop work. If you do not have a logo, please consider my logo design services. You can view examples of my logo design here.
You’ll also need some photos. A homepage usually contains a large photo, either as a static image, or as part of a slideshow. Because the average person only views a homepage for 5-7 seconds, I would recommend having a single, powerful photo or image that represents your brand and services.
Additional photos throughout your site will help to add variety to the layout. If you don’t have photos and cannot afford professional photography (recommended), there are stock photography sites that offer imagery at reasonable prices. One popular site is iStockPhoto.
Logo Example: One Heart Uganda
Responsive Web Design
Globally, 62% of users accessed the internet using their mobile phones.
By the year 2025, three quarters of internet users will access the web solely through their smartphones. That’s nearly 3.7 billion people! Obviously, it’s important that your website be mobile-friendly. A “responsive” website achieves this by automatically adjusting to the width of the device upon which it is being viewed. The user experience is awesome regardless of the end user’s device — a desktop computer, tablet or smartphone. Thankfully, the framework of most contemporary websites is responsive by default. However, if you have an old website (6-8 years old) there’s a good chance it’s not mobile-friendly. It’s easy to find out. Open your website on a smartphone — Does it scale to fit the device? Or does it look the same as on a desktop, only much, much smaller. If it’s the latter, it’s time to upgrade to a responsive site.
Know your goals
Many clients find it helpful to write down answers to the following queries before their first meeting, so as to clarify what they hope to accomplish with their website.
- Provide a brief description of your business.
- List at least two goals for your website.
- Name three websites that are similar to yours.
Identify what you LIKE about this website.
Identify what you DON’T LIKE about this website.
Identify some things you would do differently.
- Name a website outside of your industry that has a feature that you admire and would like to have on your website.