Ultimate Detroit Design Checklist | Detroit Website DesignAugust 5th, 2019 by Bob Ottaway
Our most-asked questions we get before a website design, apart from “Do we do SEO?” (and the answer is yes), is about planning a website design and keeping it on track. We know that navigating the website design process can be complicated.
Unfortunately, designing a great website isn’t just about getting creative and making the most beautiful website on the internet. If you don’t take care in your URL structure, file organization and content optimization, you can’t count on making back the investment you’ve made.
Your website can, and should be, a revenue generator for your company. Often, companies launch a new website that ticks all the modern, aesthetic boxes, but after a few months, they don’t see the return. Many companies stop believing that it can ever bring in money!
We’ve seen it happen, and we don’t want it to happen to you. Don’t let your website become a black hole for your firm’s resources. Use this website design and website redesign checklist to guide you through the preparation, writing, design and steps to launch a website.
Questions to Ask Your Michigan Web Designers Before You Hire
You might want to consider hiring full-service Michigan Web designers for your project. You’ll have a one-stop shop for web development, digital marketing, marketing strategy, analysis of digital experiences, hosting and SEO.
However, in order to make the best decision on a firm, make sure to settle these questions before you hire:
1. Do you have a full-time project manager on staff?
You need a reliable contact at the company who you trust and who can find the answer to any question you have.
2. Are your developers full-time?
Any company that specializes in web design should have some full-time developers in their employment.
3. Do they specialize in [your company’s specific needs]?
Ask about integration of social media or any special CMS (content management system) needs you might have. Other items might include shopping cart design, coding languages, experience designing for your industry vertical, app design, mobile-first design and more.
4. What is the timeline?
For most sites, expect the timeline to be 4-8 weeks from when they get started. Any longer and the company might be over-billing and unable to provide great customer service.
5. Do they have SEO content writers on staff?
An SEO specialization is a requirement for choosing a website design company in 2019. It will be hard for your website to rank with search engine optimization if a great foundation is not made from the very beginning.
Planning A Website: Website Design Checklist
✓ You know what features your website needs to be competitive in your industry.
Do they have a shopping cart? Then you probably need one too. If they have a mobile app, think seriously about what you need to stay competitive.
✓ Your features are finalized.
Many website design companies call this a “Requirements Document,” and they can supply a template to help you get started.
✓ You have a simple, full-featured CMS system chosen.
Your web designers should help inform your decision. Options range from WordPress to Joomla and Magento for shopping carts, and there are many more options out there.
✓ You’ve decided on a domain name.
This should be memorable, descriptive and, optimally, contain the most important keyword you would like to rank for.
✓ You have consistent branding.
Especially if you have an established brand, you want to stay consistent. If you’re starting up, a designer will be able to help you choose a winning combination.
✓ You have impactful, descriptive images.
If you don’t have images of your business, get some made. Nothing beats high-quality images of you, your offices and/or your product/service.
✓ You have original image files.
This will ensure the highest image quality possible. Images can always be sized-down with good clarity, but they can’t be sized-up as easily.
User Experience Web Design Checklist
✓ You’ve mapped how you think users will flow through your website.
What action do you want users to take? Create a user profile. Where do they live? How old are they? What’s their gender? Why are they shopping for your product? Most of the buying in the United States is done by women. Make sure that you know who is buying.
✓ You have an organized URL structure.
This will help users and search engines navigate your website and understand what you’re all about with ease. If users don’t understand your website, they’ll leave.
✓ Create a favicon.
This is the tiny image that appears in the browser tab. Success is in the details.
Website Development Checklist
✓ Create a website design wireframe and mockup.
Whether you’re working with a web design company or working inhouse, you’ll want your designer to create a navigation wireframe (a view of the homepage navigation) and a design mockup so that every one is on the same page.
✓ Choose a theme for your website if you’re using a CMS.
CMS programs all have a variety of pre-built themes that help you get a head start on your new website and provide many helpful, pre-built features.
✓ Reserve a hosting service.
There are many great web host services out there. If you are working with a web design company, chances are that they offer full-featured hosting at a good value. If not, GoDaddy, Bluehost and WordPress Engine all offer hosting services.
✓ Website testing.
When the development team has a fully-featured theme developed and content is placed, make sure that you test every part of the website prior to launch.
✓ Create an overview of Key Performance Indicators and share with your developers.
Decide on what the most important action you want users to take on your site is and share with your development team how your company would measure website performance success. This will help everyone understand the broad goals of the new design.
✓ Note any apps or outside tools that need to be integrated.
These can include CRM integration, mobile apps, analytics tools, auto-response email campaigns and other third party tools.
✓ Your website has a neatly organized file structure.
Make sure the back-end code of your website is clean and well-organized. This will help search engines crawl and index your pages.
Website Content Checklist
✓ You’ve done your keyword research.
Knowing the important keywords for your industry is vital. This will help guide you during the writing process.
✓ Optimize all content.
There are great programs to help you know if your content is optimized, such as SEM Rush and Moz. For the best results, many SEO agencies in Detroit offer one-time SEO audits or no-contract SEO.
✓ Important content can be reached in 1 click without scrolling.
Create helpful internal links on each of your service/product pages to help users reach related content easily.
✓ Your content is helpful and educational.
It might be tempting to go for the “hard sell” at all times, but users (and search engines) prefer website content that helps users to make their own decisions.
Website Launch Checklist
✓ Add tracking and analytics to the website.
Make sure to verify the site in Google Webmaster Tools and verify that Google Analytics and Google Ads tracking codes are measuring conversions properly. You might also choose to use software like HotJar to track how users flow through your website.
✓ Exclude your office IP address and any other source of internal traffic from Analytics.
This includes the home IP of any key employees or remote employees.
✓ Use an uptime monitor to notify you when your site goes down.
Pingdom and NodePing both work very well.
✓ Keep a backup copy of your website.
Also make sure to keep this updated, especially if your company manages their own web hosting.
✓ Create an XML sitemap.
Set up your Yoast plugin or create your custom XML sitemap. Make sure it is updated every time a new page or post is added to your site.
Post-Launch SEO Checklist
✓ Title tags are fewer than 70 characters.
All pages need to have unique titles.
✓ Meta descriptions are fewer than 160 characters.
Be descriptive and concise. It should read easily and explain what the page contains while being optimized with the target keyword.
✓ Each page has a target keyword.
Make sure it appears in the title, meta, heading and in the body text. Avoid “keyword stuffing” (the act of placing a keyword repeatedly in the text where it doesn’t make grammatical sense).
✓ All images have alt tags.
Use keyword-optimized alt tags that are descriptive of the image.
✓ Check your microdata markup.
Use Schema.org to figure out what types of microdata markups you need. Address schema is highly recommended.
✓ Check that any old URLs are 301 redirected.
Confirm that all redirects are working properly on launch. Only redirect to content that is relevant to the old page to prevent soft 404 errors.
In conclusion, it’s a big job and you can see that when done properly, fully and precisely, it will serve you well.