We always emphasise the importance of planning your website’s design, the reason for this? Just have a browse around the internet and you will find copious amounts of bad websites born out of poor planning, and I’ am not just talking about the atrocious colour scheme.
Let us take a look at some of the choices you must consider when creating a website.
Commercial vs. Personal
I use commercial and personal in the broad sense, as there are a lot of different types of websites that could be categorised within these.
Choosing the main focus of your website is an important first step, as a commercial website focusing on making money through products or services would be fundamentally different in design than a website created for your family and friends, used simply to post pictures and to keep in contact with each other.
How are they different?
Let’s take two websites, one is an ecommerce website that sells DVDs, CDs and games, the other site is for a family to post images of their kids and holidays etc. Let’s take a look at how each site functions and what they require to be successful.
E commerce Website
The ecommerce website is all about getting traffic from various sources then converting that traffic into customers. In order to get a healthy stream of unique visitors to the website, it is crucial that you rank high in search engines such as Google, Bing etc. A problem that many ecommerce websites encounter is the high level of competition, unless you are servicing a niche market you are likely to be going up against popular companies such as Amazon, Play.com and Barnes & Noble etc. This makes it difficult to rank high in search engines and it also requires you to provide a better service at cheaper prices if you ever want to compete with the big boys.
When we see the word optimising within the same context as website, most people immediately think of search engine optimization (SEO), however, there is another form of optimization, which is just as important, and that is, optimising your website for the best possible user experience. If people find it difficult to navigate and difficult to find what they are looking for on your website, you can forget about that conversion rate rising, there are plenty of websites for consumers to choose from, don’t lose possible customers due to poor design!
Our theoretical website (we’ll call it DCG) is entering into an overly saturated market, with billions of results appearing in Google for the keywords ‘DVDs, CDs and Games’, how can we hope to rank high for these keywords when up against such fierce competition? The answer is simple, we don’t. Amazon and similar websites are well known all over world and Google, Bing etc knows that they are the real deal, which result in these companies getting ranked high for a lot of the products/services they offer. So, going for the same keywords that these website rank high for would be a waste of time and money. Instead, we would focus on our items individually; optimise each products page with unique, relevant content using data gathered from researching how people search for the items you are selling. There is of course, much more variables to consider, but I don’t want to get into SEO too much, as it’s a whole different topic of discussion.
The advantages of using a content management system (CMS) are many, for example:
Listing thousands of products, many of which we may need to edit, and the addition of new products everyday can be extremely time consuming. Having a content management system allows you to (even those of you who are not tech savvy) edit and add new content very easily, if you are able to use Facebook or Microsoft word, you will be able to use a CMS with relative ease.
- Many CMS offer plug-ins or have built in security measures to protect against hackers and spammers.
- Multiple users from all over the world can access and edited the website through the CMS.
- These are only a few of the perks that come with having a CMS, there are many more!
Developing a website for your family and friends to post pictures and maybe chat with each other is rather easy when compared to the time, work and constant up-hill battle involved in running an ecommerce website. Why, you ask? Well, let’s see:
- No need for SEM (search engine marketing), the target audience is already known, and since it’s your family and friends, it should be pretty easy to get them onto the website!
- No competition!
- No need to rank high in search engines.
- No pressure or stress, you’re your own boss!
One element that an ecommerce and personal website should both incorporate is a CMS, not only will it make uploading your images and news easier, but it would allow your grandparents, who are not at all computer savvy, to add their own images and posts!
Of course, this isn’t the only kind of personal website, for example, your goals would be different if you were making a blog or a non-commercial film review site, you would need to rank high in order to get viewers, you would need to do some SEO, there would be a level of professionalism expected from you which could lead to stress etc.
Whatever kind of website you decide to create, remember to plan the design before you start!