Ideally, your website makes your business jump off the page. It's a living, breathing, accurate reflection of you and everything your company has to offer. The colors are vibrant, the pictures detailed and descriptive, and the layout is flawless and easy to navigate. Your customers view your site as an easy, stress free, fun way to do business with your company.

That sounds good doesn't it? If you’re picturing your current website and it's not what we just described, then start thinking about a site redesign. What if you know your site should be improved but you don't know how to make it better? What if you’ve tried to redesign the site but just don’t know enough about website design and development?

Don't worry, we'll guide you through the steps that will help you start planning for the website of your dreams.

Step One – The Basics
"What do I want my website to do for me?"

Sit down and really look at your website. Have your friends, colleagues, and clients take a look. What do you like about your website. What don’t you like about your website. Anything your colleagues think could be done to better showcase your strengths. Anything your clients think is confusing or missing? These are the key facts that help you decide what you should focus on. Even if you think you’re website is sent from heaven, it doesn’t mean anything if your clients think it’s a piece of crap. Be ready to be criticized, and be willing to criticize yourself. Once you get through it you’ll be ready to tackle the problem.

Now that you've gotten a feel for what you need to focus on, you have to try to decide what you want to achieve. Why is it that you think you are in need of this redesign? Think about what your business could be doing better. Are you looking to get more traffic to the physical location of your store, get more web traffic, spread awareness about your business, or increase online sales? There are thousands of reasons that businesses want to redesign their websites and all of them are good, but what is it that yourcompany needs to focus on.

It might be helpful to pick a goal for your site. Focusing on one goal can help the whole picture come together. You might want your site to focus around your products, the talent of your employees, or increasing awareness for a certain cause you believe in. Having these key goals for your site will help the other details fall into place.

Having a great website doesn't really mean anything unless people see it. So while thinking about the goal of your website, you might want to think about any traffic goals you might have. You might not even know how much traffic your site is receiving right now (don’t worry, we can help you find that out). Your website is a valuable tool in order to get more consumers interested in your business. Partnering with a web design and development agency can help you increase traffic through a redesign.

Another important aspect to consider is E-commerce. Even if your business doesn't currently do business online, it's never a bad thing to think about. Having your website be yet another way to sell your products could do great things for you company. It might not be right for your company, but it's food for thought.

So after all this thinking we've just made you do, you should have some idea of what you what your website should portray and what it should look like. Designing the layout of the project comes next.

Step 2 – Designing the Layout
"What do I put where, and why?"

If your website isn't easy to navigate, customers will easily become frustrated and click away from your website. A factor we call "bounce rate," which pretty much means the amount of visitors who visit your site and then "bounce" instead of continuing to look at your page. You don't want to run the risk of having your customers "bounce" on over to your competitor's site because it's designed better.

So what should you do to prevent this from happening? An easy to use classic layout is best for most businesses, but it really depends on whom you're marketing to. A fun funky layout might work for a teenage clothing store, but it might not do the same for a senior retirement home. Think about whom you’re targeting, and that can be a great start.

It's important that customers be able to navigate from different pages of your website quickly and easily. Tabs for your different pages should be displayed prominently, and your links from page to page should be up to date and working (we can help you learn how to do this too).

As a website design and development company, we've worked with many companies with different design needs. We can help you identify a strategy that works for you. Once you've designed the website, it's important that you be able to manage this website. One way to do this is CMS Integration, which brings us to our next step.

Step 3 – CMS Systems
"What does it mean, and why does it matter?"

Website Content Management, or CMS, pretty much means a set of procedures that allows your business to manage your website content collaboratively. What's so great about it? It lets a large number of people to contribute, access, and control the data on your webpage.

In most CMS systems, users have different levels of access to the data, which allows managers to set and determine the amount of data that different levels of employees within the company can access. For example, if your in a business that customers might be required to fill out a form displaying interest or personal information, you might want to allow all your employees to have access to these forms. But, you might also want another level, a product manager for example, who would be able to look at all your data, while being able to change entire sections of the website. This can be set up easily with CMS systems.

Having CMS integration not only allows your employees have access to the desired level of content, but it also reduces repetitiveness and overall mistakes. Data changed by one user can be changed across all platforms, which increases efficiency and wasted time.

Implementing this type of CMS system can be a long and hard process. Partnering with a website design and development company can make this a lot easier. Our content management services allow your website to implement multiple page editing, meaning that one user can change content in multiple locations. Our CMS services also allow your business to preview your content before you publish it, and to keep track of what certain users and groups of users can access. We also offer ongoing training to our clients so that they can learn and keep up to date on CMS.

So now that you’ve learned to manage the website, what exactly is it that your going to be managing?

Step 4 – User Interaction and Functionality
"If my customers can't use it, then it isn't worth it"

If your website doesn't function properly, then you've just wasted your time coming up with all these great ideas to make your website better. An important part of keeping your website functioning is link analysis. If your links to other websites, or other pages of your website don't work, customers aren't going to take your website seriously. Not only can it cause customers to become aggravated with your site, but it can also cause search engines to devalue your site. If your outbound links aren’t working, it will drag down your Google Page Rank, which basically ranks the relevance of your website and causes sites to be either high up on the results page, or not. You want to be high up on that Google results page, which mean you need to be aware of your links.

Another important thing to think about for your site is making it mobile friendly. With the increase of use in smart phones, this outlet is becoming one of the primary ways to view content on the web. If your website isn't compatible with the standards, you could risk losing some of these customers. To design a mobile website things like the variety of screen sizes, speed of downloading, and providing users with easy back and forward buttons are important to consider.

It's important to make sure that your customers can learn from your website interactively. Flash demos are a great way to do this on your site. You can create storyboards, animations, flash scripting, and voice-overs through flash demos.

Getting the customer involved is a great way to keep them interested, and keep them from "bouncing" as we talked about before. Having an interactive and functioning site will help keep customers focused on your website.

So far we've scoped out the project, set goals, designed our layout, learned how to manage our data, and made sure our site is user friendly. So what's left to do?

Step 5 – Development and Deployment

Development of the site often takes some companies months or years. There should be a clear and concise time line of deliverables for your site.

In addition to a strong time line, there should be a technical documentation that outlines the project technically.

Before deployment, the company should also have an assigned test plan to test the website in all different browsers and operating systems.