Everyone in the office can agree that I am the most meticulous, direct, organized person of the group (and possibly in all of Bucks County). I like things in order, on schedule, done right, and perfected… I mean, who doesn’t? Working in the web design industry has given me plenty of experience working with local businesses wanting to improve (or begin) their web presence. For many business owners, getting to that point of wanting to redesign a website, or start fresh and new, is a big step in itself. We at Inverse Paradox know that the customer comes first and all work that needs to be done “for our own business” always gets pushed off…and pushed off… and pushed off.
It’s tough to admit you need to update your website… it’s even tougher to get up and do it! My advice for a starting point is to get organized (and it really doesn’t take that long to do).
Inverse Paradox is here to help and guide you along the way as you update your website, add in the SEO, setup some new email addresses, and do all the little tweaks you’ve been pushing off. The hardest part of my job is getting the client’s information organized so I can send it over to my developers. Sometimes (maybe even a little more than sometimes) my developers get stuck organizing information too. It’s not that we mind organizing the information, it’s that, we don’t always know what we’re looking at!
Being disorganized as a business is inevitable, but it’s really important to not reveal your disorganization on the web for all to see. The more organized you are before starting a web project will ensure that your project is completed on-time, to the quality and standards that you expect and Inverse Paradox promises, and will make future web updates effortless.
There are essentially two types of business out there for us to compare: those with websites they like that need updates, and those who want a brand new site with a complete overhaul.
The first group has it relatively easy when it comes to getting organized. If you fall in to this group, here’s how you would start: Create a “Website Updates” word document, layout all of your pages, and start listing all of the updates you wish to make. Create a folder on your computer with all related images, documents, and graphics, and refer to them in your “Website Updates.doc”. Create a zip folder, of all files and send along to us. Make sure to have your ftp info available if you are not a current client. Simple updates (ones that do not affect website layout or design) that are organized and ready to go for us will take no longer than 48 hours to be live on the web. (That’s it!)
The second group, or those wanting a brand new site with all the bells and whistles, has their work cut out for them (to say the least). If you fall into this group, it’s okay, we’re here for you! The best advice I can give to someone getting ready to venture in to a new website is to not lose focus of why they’ve decided to increase their web presence…and then… get organized!
So, if you need a new website and want to start from scratch, here is how you should begin:
- Research– look around on the web for business like yours, type out what you like and dislike about a few competitor’s sites. Also look around (maybe subconsciously) of sites you are on constantly throughout a week: what you like and dislike about those sites too. Think layout and functionality, not necessarily color and design elements.
- Site Map– what pages do you want on your site? A good starting point is: home, about us, services or products, blog, and contact. Keep electronic files of everything (please don’t make us type up your hand-written notes, it is 2010 now!).
- Start writing– Now, we can definitely help you in this department, but we certainly can’t start from a blank page… we don’t know your services, how long you’ve been in business, where your business name came from, how long your father owned the business before he passed it down to you… it’s just not feasible. Write notes and facts about your company, what your top services or products are, what services or products you’d like to gain more business in, who your partners or networks are… All of these little tidbits of information about your company will help everyone involved who works on your site. (I just want to reiterate that everything should be in an electronic file and named appropriately so when you send it to us, we know what we’re looking at.)
- Gather Images & Logos– if you don’t have photos of your business, start snapping some shots! People online love looking at pictures—and pictures of YOU (not those stock photos that everyone’s seen everywhere). Stock photos do have their place in websites, but I highly recommend you taking some original photos, or hire a photographer for some really dramatic images (we can help you with that). Photography is never a wasted investment because photos are so versatile: use them on the web, in a print ad, in editorial, frame them in your office, or for collateral materials such as a brochure. If your business offers national products, talk to your vendor(s) they probably have photos they can supply you with (for free!). Also gather up your high-res logo, maybe even logos of companies or products you work closely with, and any network associations you’re involved with (ie BBB, LeTip, BNI, LBCCC, etc.)
And that’s pretty much it! I know it seems like a lot, but keep in mind, we can guide you through the process. Creating a new website generally takes 3-6 weeks from start to finish, although this can vary greatly based on the organization of the project. So get your business information organized now and update, update, update!