December 10, 2007
It’s recess time on the elementary school playground. A group of third graders is playing kick ball in teams on the grass. Suddenly, there’s a big argument over whether the last point goes to the girls’ team or the boys’ team.
The argument rages on for what seems like forever — almost a whole minute of precious recess time has been wasted! In third grade, wasting recess is a crime! And it must be stopped before time runs out.
One of the girls realizes, stops arguing, looks around and declares, “Do-over”. The boys accept this proposal, the last play is forgotten, and the game starts again.
The slate is wiped clean, but the play has to be repeated
When you were young, do-overs were an easy way to resolve an argument, fix unfairness or quickly change history.
Why wouldn’t you want to be able to do this with your business website? Unlike the playground game, designing a website takes a lot of time, work and money — it’s just not a task that you’re going to want to start over from scratch again!
And, once you’ve launched one website, it’s harder to get a do-over from your prospects and clients than it is to get the other team to agree to one in elementary school.
Avoiding a do-over sometimes leads to project paralysis
At this point, a lot of entrepreneurs get scared — they don’t want to create a do-over, but they don’t know where to start down the right path. So, they put their project off, and instead stress out about getting everything ready. Plus, avoiding starting means they won’t make any mistakes. That works itself up into procrastination and full-scale project paralysis — and the website project winds up never getting completed.
The reason that people get paralyzed is because they don’t know how to plan and create a website in a way that minimizes the chance that they’ll have to re-do it. But, there are a few ways to ensure that your site will be as permanent as possible, without driving yourself crazy with all the considerations.
Five Steps to Creating a Site That Will Stick
1. Decide what you want your website to do for your business. A website should be more than just something you have to create for your business. What’s your site’s purpose? What are its jobs? Who will be coming to the site? What do you most want them to do once they get there? What do your visitors most want to know?
If you create the site with the end goal in mind, then your site will be more successful. This is because you can create every piece of the site to encourage the viewer to take a certain path through the site or a particular action. Planning the experience that a visitor will have on your site can help get more visitors to meet your goal on the site.
2. The function of your website will determine the types of content you’ll need. Look at the job you want your site to perform, and who the site is for. That will start to give you hints about the types of content you should include on it.
In planning your basic content, consider the pages you’ll need to include on the site. Also think about any subscribe forms, shopping carts, audio, etc. that would help you communicate with your target audience. Lastly, think about which of these pieces you need immediately and which you can add in later. This will help ensure your website project won’t take forever to complete.
3. Don’t get hung up on writing the text. The next step is to gather your samples and write your text for the website. A lot of entrepreneurs get stuck in this phase of the project. This is because they’re not comfortable writing, they don’t have the time to write their text, or they find that it takes a while to get the testimonials they need.
This is the one part of your site that’s easy to revise later on — so don’t stress out about getting the text “just perfect” — just get the text put together and then plan on revising it shortly after the site is launched.
4. Design the site to look timeless. There’s no way to know what design trends are coming next, and what effects would make your site look like it was designed in a particular year. Sites full of cutting-edge effects and technology this year may look passé next year.
How do you design a site to look timeless? If you create your design based on your own logo and Visual Vocabulary and keep the design generally clean, the likelihood that it will look dated is lessened. Stick close to your own brand designs and you’ll have a website that you can keep for the long haul.
5. Code the site cleanly. In order to make sure that your site will work across multiple browsers and systems and will work on future versions of those browsers, make sure that your code is clean. To maximize your search engine optimization results, you’ll want to code the site in HTML instead of in Flash so that Google and the other engines will be able to read it. Coding in HTML also makes your site easier to update in the future — you’ll want to add to your site’s text and make edits to what’s already there.
Recreating your website isn’t as easy as a do-over on the playground. By following the 5 steps here, you’ll create a website that will serve your business well for a long while. And you’ll be able to avoid having to start the site all over again!
Author: Erin Ferree is a brand identity designer who creates big visibility for small businesses. Her workbook, “Design a Website That Works”, will walk you through all of the questions that you need to answer in order to create the best possible website. http://www.elf-design.com/http://www.elf-design.com/products-webWorkbook.html