12 Point Checklist For Creating a Website





Creating a website can be daunting. Same goes for updating or improving your existing website. It feels like a huge project. You may feel like you don’t know where to start.

The good news is, with the right help and the right tools, creating a website is a very manageable process today.

And it all starts with a good plan. To get started, think through what you need to do. Start making notes to keep track.

The following website checklist, provided courtesy of Verisign, will guide you as you consider key issues and what is involved.



1. Purpose and Goals

Determine the purpose of your website. Is it an ecommerce site designed to sell items online? Is it mainly an informational brochure for your business? Is it a blog that you intend to update regularly with posts? This will be your starting point.

2. Domain Name

Choose and register a domain name for your Web address.

3. Priorities

Determine what is critical for your website today. Can you start with a simple site and add more bells and whistles later? Write down what you need now, versus later.

4. Site Pages and Features

Develop a list of your website requirements. For example:

  • Number of website pages
  • Amount of website storage (images and videos mean more storage space)
  • Tools such as online forms, blogs, customer reviews, maps, slideshows
  • Links to or integration with social media
  • Video and/or audio players
  • Shopping cart
  • Tech support
  • Mobile device optimization (so your website looks good on mobile devices)
  • Easy way to make content updates

5. DIY vs. Professional Service?

Decide if you want to create a website yourself or if you want to outsource the development and design to an expert. Most DIY website building tools are now made with small business owners in mind, and do not require coding or design skills. Non-technical people can achieve a professional-looking result just by following the online instructions included with a good DIY tool.

6. Website Builder

Choose a website builder. This can be either a do-it-yourself tool, or a professional service that sets up your website for you according to your specifications. Do an Internet search or ask colleagues for recommendations.

7. Hosting

Your site will need to be stored on a computer accessible over the Internet in order for visitors to reach it online. For that you’ll need a Web hosting company. Some website builder tools include hosting — just use the tool, follow the instructions, and it will automatically get the site online for you. Or another approach is to choose a hosting company first (such as the one where you bought your domain name), choosing one that offers a website building tool or service.

8. Connect Your Domain Name to Your Website

If you choose to use a website builder tool that places your website online on the builder’s domain name instead of yours, redirect (also known as web forwarding) your domain name to where your website is located. That way you will have a Web address that’s easy for customers and the public to remember, so you can build up your brand with and to make marketing easier and more effective.

9. Plan and Develop Content

Determine what website content is essential and create it. What information will your visitors find valuable? At a minimum, make sure your website shows your business’ contact information such as your company branded email and phone number, as well as any required information your line of business may require such as a state license number. Note: Your domain name can be used to create a company branded email. Check with your hosting company or the company you bought your domain name from.

10. Promote Your Website!

Think about how your visitors will find your website. Put your Web address everywhere possible including business cards, social media, advertising, and online business directories. Experiment with paid search advertisements to attract pay-per-click traffic to your website.

11. Track Performance

Understand how your website is performing and who is coming to your site. Website analytics can yield great insights into what you need to do more of, or what you need to change. You can install an external analytics program, or use one provided by your website builder tool or hosting company.

12. Keep Up a Cycle of Continual Improvement

Continually optimize your site and develop useful content to your visitors based on what’s working.

More in: 16 Comments ▼

Amanda Stillwagon


Amanda Stillwagon As Chief Marketer for Small Business Trends, Amanda oversees online marketing, email marketing and social media marketing for the Small Business Trends group of sites.

16 Reactions

  1. Aira Bongco

    You also have to determine your brand early in the game. This will prevent you from any brand confusion afterwards.

  2. Nice post! I would also add selecting a CMS to this list.

  3. I would add in competition. You need a firm understanding of the market you are targeting and some of the key terms people use to find that particular market online. This will have a major impact on the content of the website.

  4. Hey Amanda,

    This is a great list for people looking to get started planning their first website, awesome job!

    We put together a similar checklist for people who want to start using their website for content marketing that I think you and your readers would find valuable as a next step – http://tresnicmedia.com/inbound-marketing-website-checklist/

  5. Hi Amanda!

    Thank you for this practical list of requirements. It helped me a lot in discussing the specifics of the website we are developing with our service provider. Now its up and running. We are now in the process of continuing site improvement with the help of site analytics.

    In addition to this could you also provide tips on blog development and social media page creation? It would help us and many of those who would like to tap a broader audience/ clientele base using the internet.

    More power to you and may your kind prosper!

    Cheers,

    Josh

  6. Hello Amanda,

    Thanks for sharing those excellent points. When it comes to point 1 (Purpose and Goals), everyone should decide which platform should be used to create a website. It can be a CMS website created with WordPress or one created with HTML, JSP or PHP codes.

    When I was starting out, I made a huge mistake by creating a website with JSP and I struggled a lot. It was very hard for me to find a hosting provider that supports JAVA. Also, it is important to design your website with search engine optimization (SEO) in mind because not everyone can go with PPC.

  7. Hey Amanda this is a great checklist for any entrepreneur who wants to take their business online!

    In regard to point 4, having your website optimized for mobile devices should be a must. The last time I checked, Google is giving more preference and “search engine love” to websites with responsive web design (websites optimized for mobile devices).

    In regard to points 5 and 6, if someone were interested in building and updating their website by themselves, I would recommend using WordPress or some other Content Management System (CMS). This way you don’t have to mess with coding or other technical stuff. It’s a matter of choosing your own theme, plugins, and organizing your content.

    In regard to point 10, you can either spend money or spend time generating traffic to your website. You can buy traffic using pay per click campaigns (with Google, Bing, or Yahoo), or you can spend time promoting your website via article marketing, video marketing, document sharing, or social media. There are numerous other methods, but this would be a good start to someone brand new online.

  8. Hi Amanda,

    #1 Purpose and Goals seems to be the ultimate key to not wasting a ton of money and time.

    Just ask yourself… Does my business 100% operate online or is it an extention of my offline current business?

    100% online? = Use a professional
    Extension? = Use a free service

  9. You also have to determine your brand early in the game. This will prevent you from any brand confusion afterwards. In addition to that, I would add in competition. You need a firm understanding of the market you are targeting and some of the key terms people use to find that particular market online. This will have a major impact on the content of the website. However, thank you for this practical list of requirements. It helped me a lot in discussing the specifics of the website we are developing with our service provider. Now its up and running. We are now in the process of continuing site improvement with the help of site analytics. In addition to this could you also provide tips on blog development and social media page creation? It would help us and many of those who would like to tap a broader audience/ clientele base using the internet. More power to you and may your kind prosper!

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