6 Steps to Building Websites Your Prospects Will Love

From building websites functionality and appearance to coding and navigation, there are many steps to consider when designing and developing a website your prospects will love. But some factors weigh more than others. Having worked on sites for both small startups and large corporations over the years, we have developed a sweet list of essential steps to ensure a successful site.

Step one – Web Host
This might seem too trivial for first place on the list, but don’t underestimate the importance of your web host. Your choice will ultimately dictate the way your site handles and it could make or break your user’s experience (keep in mind that the average someone will wait only 2 to 3 seconds for a page to load). Things to consider when choosing a host:

Capacity for size and speed
Server readability
Cloud hosting
Customer reviews
Control panels

Still need help? Here’s a great article on How to choose the right web hosting

Step two – Content Management system (CMS)
All content management systems are not created equal and what works for one website might not be the best fit for another. Rather than relying on what others use or recommend, you will want to look at the features a CMS offers and how it supports the immediate and future needs of your proposed website. In addition to such things as licensing, support, accessibility and security, you will want to consider these:

• Functionality
• Managing assets
• Customization
• User interface
• You might also want to take a look at: 10 things to consider when choosing the perfect CMS (via Smashing Magazine)

Step three – Wireframing

When building websites, this is where it starts to really count. A wireframe is basically a blueprint of your entire site and helps develop hierarchy within your webpages. It helps determine how the user interacts with the interface. Remember, if a user can find something within 2 clicks he or she will leave. Here’s a website with a list of applications you may find helpful: 20 of the Best Free Online Wireframing Applications

Step four – Responsive design

Responsive design is often called “future-proofing” because it allows you to program one site that will work on any number of different screen resolutions. Google now uses mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal, so if your site isn’t responsive then making it so should be your priority. Related to this–a key factor when building websites for mobile is font size. You’ll want to test for legibility on all different screen sizes. An application we often use when designing responsive designs is LiveView, which we wrote about in our recent blog post: 5 Resources Every Web Designer Should Use.

Step five –  Clean Code and SEO

The best way to ensure that your website will get noticed is to have clean, well-written code. Avoid using a wysiwyg (“what you see is what you get) application, such as Dreamweaver. This will add unwanted code, which can cause a host of issues, including longer load time. Instead, use a good text editor such as Sublime. Also, make sure you use proper tags for each page, and optimize all images for faster load time. Lastly, and the best piece of advice we can give, is to have internal links and backlinks to improve your site rankings and get your name out there.

• Test the speed of your website – website grader url
• Compress your images to the smallest size possible – tiny png or tiny jpg

Step six –  Styleguides

Often overlooked, but a styleguide is essential for a seamless process from design to programming. Remember, programmers are not designers and may not understand the finer details of your designer’s work. Don’t leave anything to guess work—provide a detailed style guide. Here are some of the information you’ll want to include:

• Hex colors to ensure accuracy from design to programming
• Size of photography
• Fonts and weights
• Spacing between elements
• Any special rollovers or animation