The end of the year is fast approaching and you may be looking ahead to 2018 thinking – now would be the perfect time to start planning my website (and you’re right.) There’s no better time than the new year to kick off a new project.
However, before you begin, there are three super-important “must-haves” you are going to want to make sure you lock in first.
A solid logo that represents your brand, is authentic and can be replicated across multiple platforms.
Your brand’s presence is everything. It conveys who you are, what you stand for, who you serve and how you conduct your business. It’s a personal expression of a business and should be a cohesive experience for your target audience. One of the most important aspects of your brand is your logo. A well-designed logo is unique, represents the tone of your company and sets the overall aesthetic of the remainder of your brand’s look.
A well-designed logo is also easy to scale use in multiple applications – be it a small icon shrunken down to fit onto a business card or your Facebook profile image, or scaled-up on a large sign, vehicle wrap or billboard. You should be able to foresee your logo as a recognizable mark that your audience will remember for years to come.
When it comes to website design, since your logo helps set the overall look and feel for your brand’s style, having your logo ready to go when you begin designing your site is critical. Many people miss this step and simply add their logo after the fact.
Remember, brand is all about cohesion – all pieces of your brand must work together. Having your logo ready to go before the design process begins, will help your designer create a look that speaks to your brand and binds everything together into one unique experience for your target audience.
A creative yet easy-to-read and easy-to-remember domain name.
Your domain name is the physical address to your website and it reflects your brand. Having a strong domain name is important – and sometimes more difficult to come up with than most people think.
First, you want a domain name that matches the name of your company in some way. After all, this is the most recognizable and memorable option since it is basically just the name of your company. So, you head over to GoDaddy to look for your desired domain and yikes, you run into the dreaded problem new companies are experiencing these days…
The URL with your company’s name has already been taken. Yep, it is 2017 – almost 2018 – and that means that people have been creating websites now for a good amount of time. Unless your company’s name is incredibly original, chances are that www.abcname.com has already been registered.
Let’s say your company’s name is “Corner Cookies.” Well, as you might have guessed cornercookies.com is already being used by someone else – even if they are in a state across the country from you. Or, whomever bought and registered the domain, is just “squatting” on it, waiting to use it or waiting to sell it off to the highest bidder – often at a steep entry point.
Don’t fret though – you have some options here and they don’t require changing your business name.
- If you believe that the majority of your website traffic will be coming from sources other than typed-in, direct traffic you can consider a different extension like .co, .net, or even one of the new top-level domains like .shop, .cafe, or .eat. While there are some downsides since most people are used to .com and the fact that most people still don’t know that some of these new top-level domains exist, it won’t matter too much if the majority of your website traffic is coming from Google search, social media or other external referral sources.
- Consider adding your location to your domain name. If you have a local business and do not intend on expanding to other markets, adding in your location should not be a problem. So, if Corner Cookies was a local San Diego shop, you might consider “cornercookiessandiego.com.”
- Try brainstorming action words to make your URL fun. Many restaurants and online stores do this now. You can add words like “shop,” “eat,” “enjoy,” “visit” to the beginning or end of your URL, creating something like “shopcornercookies.com.”
Follow these best practices as close as possible. While it may sometimes be difficult, try your best to avoid these major no-no’s when it comes to deciding on your domain name.
- Don’t let your URL be too long. Your URL should be short and sweet – easy to remember and easy to type in. It shouldn’t be a mouthful to say, let alone type into your browser.
- Avoid using hyphens at any cost. Most people will completely forget to type them in when looking for you.
- Make sure to dig a little and check if your domain is at all close to someone else’s trademark. You don’t want to get into hot water over this.
- Purchase related domain names like easy misspells or other well-used TLDs (.co, .net). You can redirect these to your domain. And, even if you don’t want to use them now, you might want to later and you do not want someone else to snatch them up – or squat on them in order to sell to you at a higher price down the road.
- If you plan on using social media – and you should – check your social channels to ensure that your domain can match your desired social handles for each platform.
Web hosting with a reputable Managed WordPress Host like WPEngine.
Many times, hosting is an afterthought for most businesses. The decision on who to host with many times is made based on cost – mainly who the cheapest provider is. While those extra savings at first might seem great, cheaper hosting sites sometimes provide minimal security features and, will could leave customers hanging should problems arise (hacking or increased traffic loads.) And should problems with a hacked site arise, the costs and time involved to resolve can be painful.
Managed Hosting companies like WPEngine have enterprise-quality servers that are fast and reliable with great customer service. The hosting costs more, but you will have a faster loading site with features that make you less vulnerable to hacking attacks than you would with cheaper companies.
WPEngine also provides daily site backups – so, you always have a copy of your site available should something happen. And, they take care of all the WordPress core security updates that need to be made on your site to keep it safe from hackers.
Fast load time is integral to maintaining a professional experience of your brand. There is nothing worse than a site that won’t load – it can make your brand look dated, inefficient and negligent to its customers.
While these three “must-haves” may seem easy to create, they do require some thought and consideration. You really do want to have your logo, your domain and your hosting company locked in before you begin any website design project. Rushing and waiting until the last minute will prove counterproductive, so get started on these early to ensure a successful and more relaxing website design and development process.