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How to Build a Website for Your Business in 8 Easy Steps

By: Matt McWilliam
President of MJM Design

You are obviously reading this article for a reason, you need a website for your business. In my personal opinion, every small business, large corporation, non-profit organization should have their own website online. Why doesn't every business nationwide have a website? You got me. The internet is like a free Yellow Pages directory or library just waiting for your customers to log on and find your products and services for free! In this article, I will show you the 8 Easy Steps to Getting a Website for Your Business Online.

1) Research
If you are going to publish a website for your business, you are going to want to make sure you out do your competitors right? I know I would. I would want my site to be brighter, cleaner, more organized and easier to use than my competitors. Not to mention, I would want to make more sales or bring in more visitors than the competition. I recommend starting out by searching for your competitor websites and see what they are doing, you might just be able to find some great ideas that will work for you and better your business.

2) Layout & Design
Now that you have a feel for what your competitors are up to on their websites, you can start to get together ideas for the layout and design of your website. Now, you can either leave this up to your website designer (in the next step) or if you are picky and particular, like me, you will need to visualize the layout of your website. Draw it on a piece of paper if you have to, I frequently grab a blank piece from the printer feed and start sketching away. Start with a rectangle (similar to the shape of your screen) and have at it.

3) Locate and Hire a Professional Website Designer
I would prefer to stay local, but like myself, I have clients nationwide that desire my website design & development services. I find that a lot of clients want to meet me face-to-face because of the fact that they will spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on something that they can not physically hold on to.

4) Request a Price Quote Estimate
Just like me, many other website designers (atleast the professional ones) will have some way to request a total cost estimate for your website project. This is normally a free service in the form of a web form that will ask you for basic information about your project such as number of pages, timeline, budget, design specifics, etc. Be prepared to enter this information as it will greatly help that designer give you an accurate quote. If you leave something out and request it later, it could slow down the project or dramatically increase the cost. Be sure to submit several different quotes and feel free to shop around as each designer will have a custom price estimate suited to your needs.

5) Decide on a Website Designer
Once you have received responses back from website designers look over all of them (there may be a lot depending on your area) and choose a designer that gives you the fairest price and expresses and understanding in the result you are going for. Deciding on a designer might be the most difficult task as you don't want to hire a 14 year old who will waste your time and you don't want to hire a busy designer who will put your work off until you demand it. Like I said, I suggest staying local and requesting a face-to-face interview. Understand that you may not be his/her only client at the time and there might be a short delay in production. Typical small business websites should only take 5 to 7 business days max from design to publish and should range in cost from $250.00 to $2,000.00 based on specific needs, turn around time, features and other factors.

  • Make sure your Website Designer offers the following:
  • Free Quote Request
  • Is capable of custom website designs
  • Can accomplish any work you give him/her for the price
  • Previews of the work
  • Design revisions/changes to previews
  • Satisfaction Guarantee/Money Back Guarantee
  • Does not require full or large payment up-front (typical sub-contractor scam)
  • Transfer of full ownership once work is completed
  • Provides a professional invoice for work completed
  • Offers multiple file delivery options, CD-ROM, uploading to server or zipped file attachment

6) Working With Your Website Designer
Feel free to be open and express your design needs and requirements. Remember, this is your website and you have hired the designer to do the work for you. This is similar to ordering business cards, you will need to tell the designer specifics like layout, page/category names, the goal your website is trying to accomplish and what info you would like on the site. Being specific will help get the design idea across to the designer which will allow him to be more productive and efficient in the design process. In turn, resulting in a more accurate design with a fast turn around.

7) Previewing the Designer's Work
During the website design process, you will be interested to see how far along the designer has come. You can request to have periodic updates sent to you at which point you should be able to customize and critique the design. I call these previews which are emailed to the client for approval of the work. The client can review and refine my work. Each client of mine is entitled to unlimited design revisions until satisfied or their money back. Once the website design meets the client's requirements and the designer gets final approval, we can move on to the next step which is finalizing the entire website and publishing.

8) Finalizing and Publishing
Finally, once you have given the designer the final approval he/she will create the entire website. Keep in mind that the entire website is not created just based on the preview. This is just to show you an example of what the site will look like when complete. It is very time consuming for designers to create entire websites and this avoids investing time and money incase the client backs out. Be prepared with the text (also called copy) and information, prices, descriptions, paragraphs, etc. that you want to display on your website. Some web designers will charge extra to create copy for you, but you can save a lot if you write it out in a Word document or email and send it to the designer. He/she can copy it in to the site in specific locations you request or strategically based on design knowledge of the site. Once the site is complete, the designer may require payment before uploading or sending you the files he/she created. Make sure you get an Invoice for your records and request a hard copy back up if the designer is uploading the files for you.

© Copyright 2007 MJM Design. All rights reserved. This article was authored by Matt McWilliam for MJM Design. Matt McWilliam is the owner of MJM Design located in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. Read more about Matt McWilliam.

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