By Monica Pitts
It doesn’t matter if this is your first time or your 50th time doing your website. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing it by yourself or if you’re doing it with the help of a company or a freelancer. The amount of time it takes you to get through this project is going to come down to one thing: how organized you are.
0. Get Organized
We’re actually going to start with step zero because if you aren’t organized, your website project will go nowhere fast. Think back to when you were a kid and got tasked with a team project.
Those projects prepared us for situations like these in the workplace.
In those projects, there were the people who didn’t do much of anything. Then there was the person who did almost everything. Or, you had a great, organized person who delegated and made sure everybody got their stuff done. If that was you…you are MONEY! Because…
That’s the person you want to be in your website build.
1. Create a Project Plan
Your site is a marketing bridge. And there’s no way you’d build a bridge without a blueprint and serious specifications. So first, you need to make a plan. Think of it like a blueprint for your site.
Start by looking at your current site and documenting what you do and don’t like. Then, look at your competitors’ sites. What pages and functionality do they offer? You want to have similar stuff on your website.
Once your research is done, make an outline of your pages.
In your outline describe what will go on each page of your site. This will be your checklist when building the pages.
2. Decide how you’ll get the text written for your site.
Once you’ve figured out what you want on your website, you’ll have to decide where all the information is coming from.
For example, your about page will have your mission, maybe a timeline and your staff pictures on it, so how will you get all that stuff?
First – Look at what you already have.
Proposals, presentations, award submissions, and brochures are all materials you can repurpose and recycle to make into website content. It’s so much easier to start with something than to start with nothing.
Even if you’re going to your vendor’s website to get photos of your products and services or product descriptions, you don’t have to leave them exactly as they are. You can always dress them up and make them more your own.
3. Find Your Photos
The third thing you should do is to find your photos in advance and keep them organized.
It takes time to find the photos. And it’s easier to do it en masse than on the fly while building your pages.
4. Name Your Photos Clearly and Logically
Naming your materials something that makes sense will save you buckets of time in the long run.
With one exception…
For stock photos, do not to change the file names.
Save stock photos in a logical folder structure, one folder per page, but don’t change the name. Changing the name of the photo makes it far more difficult to find the photo again in the stock photo library if you ever need to download the image again.
For all other images, name them: [page_name][image_description].jpg
Name the images like you’re describing the photo plus the page name it’s intended for.
For example: If it’s photos of staff members, name each photo the name of the page plus the name of the person in the picture. Like this: Staff_Monica_Pitts.jpg
Your designer doesn’t know who Missy, Monica and Margaret are. They just know there are three pictures of ladies they don’t know. So make it clear.
5. Prepare to Write Your Text
If you are responsible for writing the content for your website, you need to prep for it. If you are going to have someone else write the content for your website, you need to prep for them to do it.
If you’re not writing it, ask for interview questions in advance.
Most people are not awesome impromptu speakers. Most people have to think about what they’re going to say in advance. So, if someone else is writing your content for you, ask for questions in advance so you can poll your team for answers.
If you’re writing your own content…
Pretend you know absolutely nothing about your company, and create an interview guide for yourself.
Start by thinking about the questions that people ask you all the time about the products or services you offer.
Then, consider what questions you would ask someone if you were going to buy that service. You’re super informed about it, so what would you ask to determine if they are the right provider for you?
What you’re doing by creating these questions, even if you don’t answer them in an interview, is creating a rubric to check your work against. You’ll know when you’re done writing for a page because you will have fulfilled the criteria.
6. Migrate Events, Posts, Newsletters and More in Mass
If you already have an existing website, do not, I repeat, DO NOT manually enter all of your events, all of your posts, all of your blog posts, all of your newsletters, anything that’s going to stay the same with your website redo.
Ok, ok. If you only have 10-20…then it’s probably alright to do it by hand. But otherwise IMPORT!
8. Outsource Part of or All of the Project
I know this may sound obvious, but outsource part or all of the project. If you outsource something that’s not your jam, you can focus on other things that you should and can do with this website build.
Even if you’re not outsourcing the entire website building process, think about the things you could have somebody help you with, then outsource those. It could be professional photography, copywriting, editing, setting up the template for your site, anything. All those things are on the table for other professionals to help you handle and take a load off your shoulders so your website can get done faster.
Whether you will be outsourcing or insourcing, remember you can’t start without a blueprint. Take the time to document your project from the start. Your plan is going to be the thing that allows you to get your website done efficiently.
Monica Pitts is the founder and Chief Creative Officer of MayeCreate Design. She spends her days constructing a marriage of form and function; creating art with her design team to grow businesses through websites and online marketing. Monica considers herself an artist, marketer and web dork with the ability to speak geek and English.