8 Steps to Creating a Fantastic Website

Written by Rachel Richards

A website is an essential tool for transforming your users into enthusiastic customers. But, how do you take your site from “fine” to “fantastic”? There’s a lot that goes into creating a professional website that drives results: It needs to convey your unique value, provide a user-friendly experience, inform and inspire your audience, and generate organic traffic and leads. That’s a big task for one piece of tech! Here’s how we approach building websites, so that you know the effort and time that goes into creating this crucial digital marketing tool.

Quick Website Starter Checklist

  1. Define your business and user goals: Determine what you want to achieve with your new website to set the direction for the project.
  2. Conduct user, industry, and keyword research: Get to know your current state and how best to reach your target audience.
  3. Build the information architecture (IA) and sitemap: Shape your website structure and plan how users will interact with it.
  4. Map out and write engaging content: Analyze your old content, organize your pages, and create on-brand and SEO-friendly content.
  5. Create a user-centric web design: Build mock-ups for major pages, focusing on shaping a positive and empathetic experience for your customers.
  6. Develop your website: Translate the designs and populate the content into an easy-to-use content management system (CMS).
  7. Optimize your site for digital marketing: Set up analytics and develop a measurement plan to define your metrics for success.
  8. Test and launch your new website: Scan your site for any issues and transfer it to a live domain!

Step 1: Define your business and user goals

Timeline: 1-2 weeks

Understanding why you’re building a new website is important. This sets the direction for how it looks, feels, and functions. Do you need to modernize your site to appeal to today’s audiences? Are you looking to create a content hub and community for your users? Or, do you need to motivate your audiences to convert and buy from your business?

Your digital marketing agency should take the time to listen to your team and define the website’s goals. These initial meetings help us make informed decisions about the online experience and set the scope of what we can achieve within your budget.

Step 2: Conduct user, industry, and keyword research

Timeline: 1-2 weeks

Research is the foundation of any great website, because knowing where you are helps you know where you’re going.

So, be sure to delve into who your users are, along with their needs and pain points. Get to know your competitors’ websites—which of them do you admire and which of them can you outperform? To set your site up for SEO success, conduct keyword research so that your content matches what users are searching on Google.

Step 3: Build the information architecture (IA) and sitemap

Timeline: 1-2 weeks

Information architecture (IA) is all about shaping the skeleton of your website. It sets out what the pages will be, what kind of content will be on each page, and how users will interact with it all. The product of this work is the site map, which shows each page in a visual hierarchy.

A good digital marketing agency will emphasize this step, because it helps prioritize and organize your website’s structure. Remember those business and user goals? The IA gives you a plan for how your site will meet those objectives.

Step 4: Map out and write engaging content

Timeline: 2-4 weeks

What you say and how you say it can make or break your website. You only have a few seconds to win over your users, so your content had better convey what you can do for them, and quickly.

Content management bridges the gap between the IA and the web design. It involves inventorying old content, analyzing what’s working (and not), and planning out sections according to the site map. From there, you need to write stellar content! Your digital marketing agency should tap into your brand voice guidelines, marketing materials, web writing best practices, and keyword research.

Step 5: Create a user-centric web design

Timeline: 2-4 weeks

Web design is about a lot more than making websites look pretty (although that’s still an important part of it). It’s also about creating an empathetic experience that meets your users’ needs. A great design helps your audience feel the essence of your brand while making it as easy as possible to interact with your business.

Your digital marketing agency should create web designs that display beautifully across desktops, tablets, and smartphones. The designers should work closely with the writers to lay out the content in a compelling manner, and they should partner with developers to plan how the site will function within your content management system (CMS).

Step 6: Develop your website

Timeline: 4-6 weeks

The web development stage transforms your project into a real website. It involves carefully translating the designs into live and clickable pages. Menus, content blocks, buttons, images, videos, animations, forms, and more all come to life in this stage.

Your digital marketing agency should invest effort into setting up your content management system (CMS). The developed site should reflect the planned designs, but it also should load extremely fast. This will make the website user-friendly for your audience and more desirable for search engines. On the backend, it should be simple for your own team to manage and update the content. 

Step 7: Optimize your site for digital marketing

Timeline: 1-2 weeks

Once your website is built, you’ll want it to drive as much traffic and leads as possible. It’s important that your site measures your digital marketing performance while helping you generate business.

Make sure your digital marketing agency adds Google Analytics and Tag Manager to your website. This will allow you to track user data and gather insights. Other crucial steps are a 301 redirect strategy to funnel old pages to the correct new pages and an analytics measurement plan to benchmark metrics for your digital marketing success.

Step 8: Test and launch your new website!

Timeline: 1-2 weeks

Finally, take the time to test your site for any issues and bugs. Comb through each page to review that the designs work as planned, the content is correct, the forms send properly, and the SEO components are in place. Once it’s ready to go, your developers can transfer your website from the staging environment to the live domain!

A good digital marketing agency will hold content management system (CMS) training with your team. This will give you the tools to run and update your website on your own. A well-developed site should function and evolve with your business for many years to come. 

Ready to tackle your website project? Contact us today

Is it time to take your website to the next level? We’d love to help with your project. Our team brings extensive experience in creating powerful websites that perform. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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