7 Steps to a Smooth Website Project

When building a website, one of the first things everybody wants to know is, “How long is it going to take?”  The answer? It depends. And it actually depends a lot on you, the customer.  We can’t build anything without the right assets and information. So, to make sure your website project goes as quickly…

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When building a website, one of the first things everybody wants to know is, “How long is it going to take?” 

The answer? It depends.

And it actually depends a lot on you, the customer. 

We can’t build anything without the right assets and information. So, to make sure your website project goes as quickly and smoothly as possible, here are seven things you can do to help the process along. 

1. Gather Your Assets

The first step to making sure your website goes smoothly is gather your assets. 

This step usually takes the most time but before you get started with any kind of web development project, you want to make sure that you’ve gathered all of the things that you’re going to want to see on your website, or that could help your developer or marketing agency or whoever you’re working with, be able to put together a compelling website. 

We’re talking about things like: 

  • Branding materials (your logo, your colors, your fonts)
  • Your marketing assets  (brochures, mailers, old websites)
  • Your media files (photos, videos, audio files)
  • Product information (descriptions, images, pricing)
  • Passwords (yes, you need to share your passwords but we will talk about how to do this securely)
  • ProTip: When sharing your logo, it’s really helpful if you have a logo that is transparent and ideally horizontal (particularly for navigational elements). Horizontal logos tend to work better than vertical or block logos. 

When we have these, we don’t have to pester you. So, show us your assets. 

2. Store Your Assets in the The Cloud

Once you’ve gathered all the assets you’ll need, you want to make sure they’re stored in a cloud service like Google Drive, Dropbox , or Box.net. There are a ton of different ways you can go about sharing them, but you want to make sure you’re getting everything that you’re going to use into the cloud where it can be easily shared with the web development team. 

Don’t Forget the Passwords 

Yes, we’re going to need passwords to different accounts in order to get the job done and yes there are there ways to share them safely. 

We’ll need passwords to your:

  • Registrar 
  • Your web host 
  • Your DNS host 
  • Your website 
  • Any third party apps

In many cases, your registrar web host and DNS host are probably going to be the same. However, that’s not always the case, especially if you bought your domain name at Go Daddy, but host the website on SquareSpace, Wix, or Weebly. Or maybe you’ve got a previous website that you’re moving over to a website like WordPress or Shopify

Typically your registrar is where you bought your domain so, for instance, for superwebpros.com, we bought our domain through GoDaddy so that’s our registrar. However, we host our website on WP Engine, so that’s different than where we bought the registrar. All of our DNS records are hosted on CloudFlare, which is different than our web host. 

So any of these passwords, either from your previous web developer, or from any of the other services you’ve signed up for, should be gathered and shared with us through a cloud service.

More on this later!

3. Organize Your Assets

Now that you’ve got everything gathered, it’s time to organize it. 

A helpful rule here is The Principle of Least Privilege. 

This is a security principle for organization and the idea is that you give people access only to what they need. As you’re organizing your information, you want to try and organize it in a schema that allows you to have permissions cascade down. 

For example, you might have a operations team and inside of the operations team, all of your operations people are going to have access to that folder, and inside of that folder you might have your branding assets, your documents, and your media for that team. 

Example of a folder schema:

  • Team
    • Branding Assets
    • Documents
    • Media

For really small businesses, or for businesses that don’t have multiple teams, you might just have a folder that’s branding assets where you’ll have your logos and your color schemes and your typography. Then a folder for documents, and then Media where your videos, audio files and images will be. 

Those three different folders might be all that you need and then you can share those folders as appropriate with members of your team or your development team.

Passwords

As you’re organizing, make sure you’ve got your passwords uploaded securely. 

Use programs like LastPass or Dashlane to store and share passwords. These will help you make sure all your passwords aren’t the same but also store them securely and make sure that your developer or your team can get access to them. 

Use the Principle of Least Privilege to organize them and make sure they can be easily shared and accessed. 

Use Good Naming Conventions

A rose by any other name, may smell just as sweet…but it’ll be harder to find, talk about, or share if nobody remembers what it’s called.

This brings us to one thing that’s often overlooked in the organization process: using good naming conventions. This is especially important as you start to provide or create a lot of content. 

You might want to come up with different naming conventions that work for you and your team. 

Here’s an example: {team}_{folder}_file-name

This is what we use and it makes it really easy for us to find content, scoped by team. For instance, if we’re working with Customer X, everything would be organized by the name of team (Customer X), in one view, where we can very quickly skim for what we need. 

Everyone’s brain works a little bit differently, but you might want to be thoughtful about how you name things so that they’re easy to find for both you and your development team. 

This is all part of what’s called good information management and whether you’re working on a website project or not, you should be organizing all of your information this way because at some point you’re going to have to redo a website or put together a marketing brochure or onboard a new employee. 

By organizing all of your information in a way that is thoughtful and scope-based with different permissions, you’ll be able to onboard, or communicate much more quickly and efficiently than if you have stuff stored all over the place. 

These are all great, overall practices that should be a part of your daily discipline. 

Now, let’s get a little more tactical. 

4. Get Clear on Your Goals

Now we’re ready to start building your website. But wait, before we get started, what are your goals for your site?

Different businesses need websites for different reasons and it’s important to be clear on your reasons. Let’s look at some different stages and different goals.

Early Stage: 

Unpopular Opinion: If you’re an early stage business, your website really isn’t going to be doing a lot for you. 

That’s probably not a popular opinion and there are a lot of people in our industry who would say that’s absolutely not true (and there are a few cases where it’s not). But generally speaking, if you’re an early stage startup, pre-revenue or very low revenue, your website is basically there as a brochure–for awareness, and as a reference on your business card that people can look at to make sure you’re legit. 

It’s not, by itself, going to blow up your business or get you to the top of Google.

Growth:

Once you’re in the growth stage and start to get more website traffic, you’re going to want more conversions. This is typically where you’re going to start doing things like advertising online, or maybe even offline. But at this point your website’s goals shift from informational to transactional-trying to convert visitors into leads and get a significant amount of traffic.

Advanced:

As you really start to grow, your website probably starts to become more of a resource hub and you’ll need to put together more content. Then there’s more traffic for more conversions and more reasons for people to come and linger on your website—to try and learn more about whatever expertise it is that you have to share. 

5. Prepare Your Messaging

Part of a well-designed website is great copy. Great copy will make sure you have interesting and clear messaging. 

Good copy requires some thoughtfulness. 

The reality is that the the look of the website should really be accenting the messaging, which should then be organized in order to persuade someone to do something, whether it’s fill out a form or subscribe or some other action.

Copy often gets the short stick, but it’s really important. 

As you’re thinking about your messaging, consider the following:

  • What problems you solve
  • What voice you use
  • Your one-line value proposition
  • Offers and lead magnets

6. Map Out Integrations

After that, you want to map out your integrations and figure out what systems you need to connect to your website. 

People are often unaware of how their website can help them become really productive and really efficient…but it does this through integrations. 

You might want to connect your:

  • Email service provider
  • Your CRM
  • Your Payment Processor (Quickbooks, Stripe, etc)

As you’re putting together your site, or ideas for your site, think about the manual work that gets repeated on a daily basis, the repeated work that you or your employees do every single time they log on to the computer…and then see where you can shave off effort by replacing it with software. 

7. Start a Swipe File

It will be really helpful for your developer if you start a Swipe File. 

This is where you save clips from around the web to serve as inspiration for your website. These may or may not be industry specific. 

Tools like Evernote or Pocket are really really helpful for doing this. As you browse the web, you want to be clipping things that have great design or cool functionality.

You might notice a website with great widgets, or nice illustrations, or icons that you really like…whatever those things are, if you’re using something like Pocket or Evernote, you can be clipping those into a service that’s easily shared. Once they’re shared, your developer or your designer or whoever you’re working with, can say, “Okay, cool. I can absolutely do that,” or “No, we can’t do that.” 

Again, streamlining this process is all about sharing and communication.  

If you’re doing all these things — gathering your assets, organizing them in the cloud in a meaningful way, creating goals and good messaging and connecting and sharing resources, then the process of building a website will go much more smoothly. 

Delivering these items can shave weeks, if not months, off of your website process. 

Know you need a new website but not sure where to start? Reach out, we can help. 

Allison Spooner

Allison Spooner

Allison Spooner is a professional content creator and author. She helps tell the stories businesses can't tell themselves and writes snack-size fiction for those that think they don't have time to read.

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