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June 24, 2010

Web Design FAQ – 10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Designing a Website

Web-Design

Many site owners make the mistake of building a website without laying out a clear plan for their online business. This is a sure set-up for failure. There are 1000s of abandoned sites on the web due to lack of careful planning. Before designing your website you should ask yourself some questions to avoid making mistakes down the road.

10 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Designing a Website

1. What Are Your Business Goals?

It’s easy to say, “I want to make money,” however, this is not a great motivator. Think of a deeper motivation that you feel passionate about e.g. “I want to have the financial freedom to spend more time with my kids as they are growing up.”

2. What’s the Purpose of Your Website?

This is the question most visitors will ask when accessing your website. Your home page must clearly explain the purpose and benefits of the products and/or services you are offering.

3. What Type of Products or Services Will You Sell?

Research the marketability of your products or services by doing keyword research. Use the free Google Keyword Tool to find out how many searches your main keywords receive every month. If there are no searches, it means there is not much demand and therefore not worth marketing.

If it is a very competitive market (millions of searches per month), it may be difficult to stand out from your competitors and create a profitable online business.

4. How Many Products Will You Sell From Your Website?

This will determine how many pages your website will have. If you’re only selling one product or service, you may only need 4 web pages e.g. Home, Product (or Services), About, Contact. If you’re selling 100s of items, you will need a database driven site to store and manage all of them.

5. How Many Variables Does Your Product Have?

Variables may include size, color, type, sku#, shipping, tax? Make sure your shopping cart allows you to include these variables.

6. How Will You Accept Online Payments?

To accept credit card payments online, you will need a shopping cart, merchant account, payment gateway and SSL certificate for secure transactions. This means you will have monthly fees and processing fees every time a customer purchases something from your website.

A less expensive option for accepting payments online is the Paypal shopping cart. You don’t need to purchase a separate merchant account, shopping cart, payment gateway and secure certificate. For a small processing fee it takes care of all this in one place.

7. Do You Have a Web Hosting Plan?

Your website needs to be hosted on a server for it to be available online. Select a hosting plan that has sufficient space for all your files and bandwidth to receive 1000s of visitors each month. Make sure you have the flexibility to upgrade your plan should you need more space and bandwidth.

8. Will You Need to Maintain the Website Yourself?

Asking this question before the design will determine what software your designer will use to build your website. If it only consists of a few web pages which don’t need regular updating, then use software such as Dreamweaver to build it. It creates clean code and you will have only a few files.

If your website has 100s of pages, consider a content management system such as WordPress, Joomla or Zen Cart. They all enable 100s of items to be stored in a database. The website can be managed (add, edit, or delete items or pages) by logging into an administration area.

9. Do You Have a Marketing Plan?

To create a profitable online business you must create a plan to promote it. Some methods may include, search engine marketing, pay-per-click, article marketing, press releases, social media, video marketing, etc. Website promotion needs to be done frequently and consistently to be effective.

10. How Will You Monitor Your Website Statistics?

Check if your web hosting plan includes site statistics (e.g. AW Stats). If not, create a Google Analytics account and insert the code on your web pages. It will track how many daily, weekly, monthly, yearly visitors you receive, where they are coming from and what keywords are being used to find your site in the search engines.

If you answer these 10 questions first, you’ll avoid the pitfalls of designing and building a website and increase your potential of creating a profitable online business.


Herman Drost – Receive a professional design for your website by visiting: Professional Website Design Maryland (http://www.isitebuild.com). To read more in-depth articles subscribe to my RSS Feed at: (http://www.drostdesigns.com)

18 Responses to “Web Design FAQ – 10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Designing a Website

    avatar Barbara J says:

    This is a well written, informative article that is quite useful.
    If I’d known this information a couple of years ago, I would have spared myself considerable stress,time and resources.
    I applaud the writer’s expertise and the confidence with which he shares that expert knowledge.
    Barbara J.

    avatar Patricia Harris says:

    I agree with Barbara…I wish I had known this information too. I think I have changed the goals, plans, templates and hosting, (everything come to think of it) with my site. All it has done is set all my efforts back. One step forward, three steps back.

    Not anymore…so thank you.

    Great post. Lots of really good info here. Thanks

    Thanks Herman for this post, definitely worth a reading. :)

    avatar Free Hosting says:

    This is good info. There are so many webmasters out there that simply never consider planning ahead.

    Each time I start a new project I make my mind of what are the results I want to achive (sales / leads), what info should I make available, and then get a notebook and pen to make some design layouts that would work best to emphasis the content, call to action and the conversion process that needs to be as simple as possible.

    I agree all the planning is important as results can differ significantly from a well planned site and something done on the go.

    John

    avatar Sean M says:

    Spot on Herman. I’d also throw in making sure that your web host is PCI compliant if you’re doing ecommerce. That’s becoming an essential feature given the hacking vulnerabilities you are exposed to with ecommerce.

    avatar Shane says:

    Great article! Today’s biz owner lives in such a fast pace world that even the most obvious things are left forgotten until it’s too late! I really like the layout plan along w/ several others that I’m going to use in order to redesign my website! Speaking of that, I do have 1 question about programs you would suggest to redesign a business website & what you know about Adobe’s Business Catalyst? I’ve been contemplating the idea of redesigning my website & while there are many programs to help you w/ this task, it seems that the market only pushes Adobe’s products like, Dreamweaver, the Creative Suite Set, Design Premium, etc. However, I was introduced to Adobe’s Business Catalyst & this seems by far the easiest & best all-in-1 website development software that I’ve ever seen! I’m not super-knowledgeable in website design, html, etc., so these are my questions:
    1) Are there any other programs like this on the market today?
    2) Is this the easiest program to redesign websites w/ to a person who has never done this before?
    3) What would you recommend to a biz owner that wants to design his/her own website?
    4) Anything else you would recommend?

    These answers will help me tremendously! If you have any questions, comments, concerns, changes &/or ideas you would like to suggest, plz feel free to contact me anytime! Thank you for your time, your help & your consideration on these matters! Have a great day!

    avatar Joe H says:

    Great post Herman, after two years of working on my website i have slowly learned these, but with so many mistakes along the way we are going to start over with a new site. Wish i would have read this two years ago and anyone going to start a site should read this post.

    avatar Wayne John says:

    Even if your site is going to only be a few pages, it’s still worth considering WordPress or Joomla simply for the flexibility they provide. Especially if the owner wants to do their own updates, but isn’t all that up to speed on what needs to be done. Sometimes it’s just easier to train them how to perform updates with an existing CMS system.

    avatar Vera says:

    #1: — This answer was a “cop-out,” to borrow a phrase from the hippies.

    Saying your business goal is to “spend more time with your family” is as vague as the “I want to make money” goal. Why? Because this is what most people want out of any endeavor, be it a new job, or a new website, or a new brick and mortar business.

    A clear business goal would be something like one of these:

    * I want to display and sell consumer products related to my swimwear business.

    * I just want to “check the box” with a very simple site that tells our potential Fortune 500 clients who we are.

    * I have a portfolio of creative work I want to display to attract new clients, or to get a job.

    * I will need a forum and a database so I can automate a process for my current clients, such as checking on orders, asking questions, etc.

    See how these are specific, and can be handed to a web designer for evaluation? You can’t tell your web designer to help you spend time with your family. You have to provide an actual business goal.

    Hope this helps.

    avatar web designer says:

    Thanks u r information

    its very useful

    avatar Andy says:

    Good, common-sense article. All web-site owners should know these 10 points, but it’s good to be reminded about them, All the same, I think the No.1 point (Business Goals) should be stronger, too. Out Site’s business goal is to Promote, Inform and Sell. Our Site’s aim is to help Marketers create their own money-making Websites, and improve their Online Writing skills, in order to become more successful with their online business. To do this we offer free articles and advice, provide useful info about Writing improvement techniques and new earning opportunities, and sell tried & tested products to help them succeed and profit more from their efforts. That is our goal – and it’s being achieved!
    Thanks, Andy.
    PS to Shane, above. A great Website Design and Editing Suite we use is Serif’s WEBPLUS X2 (or 4). It’s like a Desktop Publishing system, so easy to use (WYSIWYG) and easy to upload from as well.
    PPS. I do not earn commission from this recommendation.

    avatar Herman says:

    Thanks for taking the time to leave your comments.

    Shane

    1. I use Dreamweaver for building static sites, WordPress for CMS and ZenCart for online stores.

    2. WordPress 3.0 is the easiest program to design/redesign websites for a person who has never done this before.

    3. Also read “What makes a good web page: http://www.drostdesigns.com/what-makes-a-good-web-page/

    Vera

    Thanks for your points

    I mentioned these business goals as many people forget to think outside the box ie what’s the larger picture or purpose of their business.

    avatar Help Desk says:

    Great topic! Recommended for those who would like to start building their own sites. I think we were able to ask ourselves these questions before we started with ours. It’s just like every decision, we ask questions first.

    Nice article. Fortunately wordpress offer design and plug ins as answers to all these questions.

    avatar web design company says:

    Thanks for u r information

    its very useful

    I`ve read few of articles here and could say it was really interesting, thanks for sharing that.

    nice to hear this from you ppl

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