Website Design Worksheet

Website Design Worksheet;

  • It is our goal to help make your choice in a web design company as easy as possible. Because of this, we have created a few pages with important information in printable form. Print or send all five so you can refer back to them at your leisure. We are happy to be of assistance and please feel free to contact us!

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    This 10-step worksheet was designed to help you with the many decisions involved in designing a web site. If you are really serious about getting a web site, then follow the steps and you will be well on your way to owning a successful web site!

    Step 1: Sizing Up your Competition
    This simple yet important step will help you to determine the main purpose of your site. It will give you an idea of what specific online features you want to offer your potential clients. It will give you an idea on how you want to approach your visitors, and ideas on what you want your site to look like. The first thing you should do when thinking about starting a web site business is to search for businesses that have web sites in the same field as yours. These businesses will be your Internet competitors and you want to look them over carefully. See what online services they offer. What are they charging for a similar product? What features are on their site? Do they have online payment capabilities? List at least 5 web sites that are related to your product or service below. Pick sites that have features you might like on your site, have similar product/services as yours, or look similar to the way you want your site to look.

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    Next thing would be to determine how your business or product differs from your competitors. Are your prices lower? Do you offer a better refund policy? Do you provide superior customer service? Or maybe you offer a service that your competitors have not thought of yet. Try to list as many differences as you can find between your business and the ones listed above.

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    Step 2: Determine the Purpose of your Web Site
    There are many reasons to start a web site. Your next step is to figure out what exactly you want your web site to do for your business. Is your purpose to sell your products directly over the Internet? Or maybe you just want to advertise your “brick and mortar” business to increase brand awareness. Do you want to start an online community where people can interact with each other? Are you looking to collect leads for B2B sales with an e-mail form? It is very important that you have a clear understanding of your web site's purpose. It will help you decide how many pages your web site should have, which features you need to accomplish your goals, and how you want to interact with your visitors. Having all of this in mind when designing your site can also help to make your purpose clear to your visitors as well. For example: If your purpose is to collect names, e-mails, and addresses so you can ‘market’ your product/service to your visitors, then you may want to offer a free newsletter to them. You can have them sign up for a newsletter about your field of business, and in return you get their contact information. You now know that the subscribers are interested in your type of product/service and have given you permission to ‘market’ to them in your newsletter. When designing the site, you already know that this will be one of the main things you offer on your site! You should have a link to the newsletter on each page, and you should probably have a page about the newsletter and what it can offer the subscribers.

    What is the 'Purpose’ of your web site?





    Step 3: How do you want to do it?
    Such a simple question…right? No such luck. This step can be one of the most difficult ones to figure out. But it has to be done. One of the most important decisions you may need to make for your site is e-commerce, so we will cover that one first. There are several ways to conduct business over the net. We will give you a brief overview of the most popular ways to do it. You can go with the full-blown package which usually consists of:

    1. A shopping cart to display products, keep track of your visitor's purchases, and collect payment information.

    2. A credit card processing program that verifies valid credit cards and actually processes the charge.

    3. A secure server directory on your hosting account (https://) to protect the transfer of sensitive data.

    4. A secure server certificate, which notifies your clients that your site is truly secure.

    5. And last but not least, a merchant account with a bank.

    · You can find a service that offers all of the above for a percentage of each sale. For instance: Instabill.com, Paypal.com, and Yahoo Paydirect (to name a few) offer all of the above for 10% (or so) for each charge. It’s a bit more complicated than just that, but basically that’s the deal.
    · You can buy an inexpensive check-printing program (usually $15 to $50). Then you can add a web form on your site for the customer to enter their checking information. You then enter the information into your check program and print the check. While the first choice may be a bit expensive to set up, depending on your business, it may actually be cheaper in the long run than the second option. There are also many different online companies that are in between or offer some, but not all of the above. We suggest you do an extensive amount of research before making a decision on your e-commerce applications and of course, we will do what we can to help you find a solution that is best for you. List some of your thoughts and ideas on e-commerce here:


    You should also decide on any other features you want for your site. Here is a list of a few popular features that you may want to consider: 

    • Guest book. This is a good idea for a personal site.
    • RSS Feed. Link to live news feeds. We have a sample on our website design page.
    • Web Blog. Sample ~ California Injury Blog
    • Photo gallery. There are many, many ways to display photos on your site!
    • Calendar. Post upcoming events, meetings, etc.
    • Instant live chat. This is a great idea for customer service.

    There are many more out there than we have listed here. Do a little research to find others you may like to add to your site. Next list the features you have decided to place on your site below:

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    Step 4: Name Your Pages
    Now you should decide how many pages your web site needs. What will these pages be called, and what information you want on them?
    Some common page titles for the average site are:

    (1) Home
    (2) Contact
    (3) Services
    (4) Order
    (5) Portfolio
    (6) Links
    (7) Resources

    These are just a few possibilities. You should already have a good idea about your pages from the research you did on other similar type web sites. Go ahead and list the pages you need and a brief description below. Please use the back of this page if you need more room.


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    Step 5: Determine the “Look and Feel” of Your Site

    Your web site will be representing your business. It is (or should be) more than just an online flyer or advertisement. You should make your visitors feel comfortable, and welcome. Your page should be organized, well written, and attractive. Don't annoy your visitors by putting up pop up ads, too many banner ads, or by using scripts that won’t let your visitors leave your page.

    The colors in your site should be appealing and easy on the eyes. Try to pick colors that compliment each other. For instance: Neon green and orange are NOT good choices for your web site colors! Popular colors and colors that are known to “sell” are school-bus yellow, blue, red, and green. Take another look at our site (and others) and try to see how we use color to help “sell” (or at least bring attention to) specific areas.

    The basic layout of your pages is pretty much up to your preference. We try and capture the “feel” that you want for your site. Do you want a “fun” site or a “no nonsense” site? Or maybe you just want a “comfortable feel” for your visitors to enjoy. Just keep your navigation simple, keep your pages neat (too many bells and whistles can run people off of your site), and be consistent.

    Do you have a slogan or tagline that clearly describes what you offer in terms of benefits or features?

    We have provided an area below for you to list some of your thoughts and ideas.




    Step 6: Custom Graphics

    Of course you would like to have a variety of custom designed images on your site. Everyone does! The question is….which ones do you need? You may need a logo created for your site. You may need banners created to advertise your site. But what else do you need? Well, that all depends on the “feel” you want for your site. If you want a “fun” site, then you may need cute little images to place next to your page names. Or if you require a “business” feel for your site, you may want a “sleek” header created. Bold, technological sites may need a cool Flash Intro to help instill the feeling of “competence” in your visitors. If you have a portfolio you would like to display, you might need images of your work scanned and arranged in an attractive graphic layout. List some of your ideas for custom logos, images, or banners that you might need:

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    Step 7: Choosing a Domain Name

    Your domain name is every bit as important to your success online as your web site. If you choose a domain name like www.someone-elses-site.com/happyland/your-site.htm, the likelihood that anyone will remember it and come back to your site is remote, to say the least. A good domain name also plays a crucial part in the listings you can achieve in some of the top search engines. Example: Here are two possible domain names- www.joesplace.com and www.joescafe.com A search engine will pull up the second one for the search term “café” before "Joes." Try to choose a name that has your product or service in it. Try to get a .com if you can, or at the least a .net. Most average surfers will automatically want to put .com at the end of a domain name. If they only remember part of the name, and if it ends in .com or .net, they just might find your site again. Once you find one you like, ORDER IT before you lose it to someone else!
    List your domain name here:

    Step 8: Hosting Your Web Site

    Web hosting is basically a “place” to store your web site. Your site is stored on a server along with other websites and your domain name “points” your visitors to the proper server. Choosing a reliable web host can be confusing sometimes. What features do you need? How many megabytes and gigabytes do you need? And....what the heck is a megabyte, anyway? It can be simple if you look at it this way. Start small and work up! Talk to your webmaster and have them help you determine what technical features you need, then choose a service that gives you the minimum amount of MBs and GBs that you can get, that will also support the features you have on your site. You can upgrade to larger accounts as your traffic grows! We suggest that you do a little Internet research and find a few hosting companies with prices you like, and then present them to your webmaster (us) for further investigation.

    Step 9: Submitting Your Site to the Search Engines

    Every company which offers Web Site Submission services is in the belief that their way is the best way to gain a good position in the search engines and directories. Every company who thinks this is not necessarily wrong! Getting a top position in the search engines is a very tricky thing to do. There are so many directories out there. Many of them want different information, presented in a different format. Some require payment, some don’t. Some are spidered by robots and some are reviewed by humans. Some want you to submit your website weekly and some will ban your site if you submit more than once a month. And many of them change their criteria regularly in an attempt to avoid an engine full of SPAM! One thing most of us agree on though is…submit to each search engine or directory by hand! There are always places where you can “submit your site” for free. But most of them are automated programs and will do very little for top placement positions in the search engines. They may not submit all of the information that each search engine requires and some search engines won’t even glance at submissions made by automated programs. Here is what you can do. You can create specific pages tailored for each search engine’s criteria (called Doorway Pages). You can place little tags called meta tags in the html of your web site to help the robot spiders read and list your pages properly. You can also make sure that you have a informative site with easy navigation for the directories that are reviewed by humans. If you choose to do this yourself, it can be very time consuming, and tedious. But it must be done! We suggest that you do some Internet research on this topic and learn as much as you can, so you can either do it yourself, or at least be knowledgeable enough to make an informed decision on whom to hire to do it for you.

    Step 10: Promote, Promote, Promote…and then Promote Some More!

    This is, by far, the most important step of all! We have heard many times, from many different experts that a potential customer will view your ad, or site 5-7 times before deciding to make a purchase! They will check around and then come back. Check around some more and then come back. Then they may check around even more and then forget all about your site! How do you keep them coming back? Here is a small list of ways to promote your site. Some may work for you and some may not. Only by trial and error, documenting your results, and modifying your techniques based on those results, will you finally find the best marketing strategies for your site.

    1. Publish a Monthly Newsletter. A successful newsletter will usually have some sort of free advice related to your product or service. When a surfer subscribes to your newsletter for this free information, they are telling you two things. One, that they have a genuine interest in your product/service. And two, that you have permission to send your “advertising message” directly to them! It’s a “no-brainer”! Do it!

    2. Cruise message boards where people are asking advice about topics related to your product or service. Offer your advice freely to these people. This will help to brand you and your company as an “expert.” You should only post the link to your web site discretely near the bottom of the message (if allowed). People don’t mind that you get in a little plug for your free advice, but they don’t want to read messages that are only a glorified ad for your product.

    3. Join a Merchant Affiliate program. Some of the better sites out there will place your banner on their site for people to download and place on their site. You can pay your affiliates for each time your banner is clicked on, for a percentage of each sale they make for you, or when the visitors they refer register for something on your site. The Merchant Affiliate program should keep track of all of this for you. The best one we have seen is www.cj.com.

    4. Write an “E-Book”. You write a substantial amount of information about a specific topic all the while, subtly marketing your service/product throughout the book. Make this book free to download for everyone. Allow other web sites to give this book away for free, as well. Before you know it, hundreds of people are putting it on their site for their clients, and thousands of people are reading it without any further effort on your part!

    5. Submit an ad to as many free classified sites as you can. You may not get significant traffic from them, but you never know where your next customer will come from!

    6. Don’t forget to advertise OUTSIDE of the Internet! Business cards, flyers, yellow pages, and the newspapers can all bring traffic to your site! We can’t tell you how many clients we have won just from leaving our business cards at convenience stores, dry cleaners, gas stations, bulletin boards, or car windshields.

    Whatever you choose to try, just try something! Be creative and never stop promoting your web site!

    We hope that you have found our Web Design Worksheet helpful. If you are truly serious about purchasing a web site, and you follow all of these steps, you will have a better chance of creating a successful Internet business. As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us and we will be happy to help in any way we can!

    Good Luck!
 

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We suggest turning your volume up,
as some of our sites have music.