There's a reason your neighbor's high school kid clams he can put together a site on the cheap for you. But be careful of the deceptive upfront...
June 19, 2013 Written by Kalin
One of the most common questions we're asked is 'what do I do first' when planning a new website. Here's the first four steps in very specific order.
Develop a Sitemap
The first step in any web development project is to create a list and hierarchy of the site's pages, also known as a sitemap. It is important to create a structure of top-level pages and subpages (and categories and subcategories, if needed), and how the pages will be grouped together visually using menus.
Good questions to ask:
- Can any of these pages be combined?
- Do any of these pages have so much content they should be split into more than one page?
- Does this hierarchy make sense only to me, or will it also make sense to my target audience?
- What pages might I want to add in the future?
Flowchart Advanced Functionality
Decide on any advanced functionality needed besides standard image/text content pages. Included in a true flowchart are any additional site features such as photo galleries, blogs, polling systems, client feedback or signup methods, latest news modules, social media tie-ins, e-commerce/shopping cart systems, and countless more. Each element of the site needs to be listed and shown in some way where it will be located in the overall structure/sitemap, and how it might be linked to other pages or systems if necessary.
Develop a Realistic Budget
- There are many factors that can affect this such as
- using a custom design template or a pre-made template
- Using a standard CMS, a specialized one, or none at all
- Deciding how many overall pages need to be setup
- Determining how expandable the system needs to be - aka what are the long-term goals of the site?
- And of course many more...
Some systems, such as a blog, are easier and cheaper to implement than a full e-commerce package with a product catalog and credit card processing. All of these elements come into play when putting together an overall project cost estimate, as well as how they combine from a programming standpoint later in the process.
The most important part of this step is to keep it realistic. If you have a smaller starting budget and are asking for a solid, clean beginning stage, then you have the right idea. If you're a larger company with a healthier budget and are needing a solid site with some bells and whistles, you're still likely in good shape. However, with so many options and fancy capabilities available these days, it's all to easy to overplan and underbudget.
If budget is a major limitation then it can be time to view the project in stages. The first stage can start out smaller, covering the basics, establishing a web presence, and keeping future necessities in mind. As long as proper planning is done from the start, a site can be setup to grow progressively as new functions are required and budgeted for.
Contact a Professional Web Developer
After getting a good picture of what your project will look like yourself and perhaps with your team, now is the time to contact pro's who handle these projects on a regular basis. Websites are getting increasingly complex and so is the Internet world in general. A good web developer, like Majestic Imaging, can review your project, offer suggestions, ask questions that may have been overlooked, compare budgeting to expectations, and can assess the best course of action to take next.