Thoughts about website development


Having a website is part of doing business. How can you get your website up and running without breaking the bank? What are the key points you should be thinking about?


Work with a professional. Unless making websites are your business, work with a pro. You can make better use of your time by focusing on your craft and delegating when possible. A site that is well-designed should be able to grow as your business grows, without added development costs.
Do a lot of thinking. Think long and hard about your business goals and what your site must do to meet these goals, as well as to meet the expectations of website visitors. Having a clear vision will help (1) eliminate the need to re-do work, (2) streamline the process, and (3) establish a clear scope of work.
Choose your domain name wisely. Your domain name is the website URL that you type into the address line of your browser. A domain name should be as short as possible and easy to remember. Purchasing your domain name for multiple years can save money.
Use a reliable web host. Let’s just say that cheaper isn’t always better. Ask for recommendations from colleagues. When the time comes to purchase hosting, you can purchase under your name or your business name (to maintain control).
Ask for an open source content management system (CMS). The industry is flooded with CMSs. Popular ones include WordPress and Joomla. Be careful when choosing a CMS. WordPress is a great choice for a blog, but may not be the best choice for other situations. Open source choices cost $0 and (usually) have supportive communities. Building a website within a CMS will allow you to do much (if not all) of your own website maintenance.
Create a responsive website. People use multiple devices (e.g., smart phones, tablets, laptops, and more) when interacting with websites. Your site needs to look fantastic, and provide a superior visitor experience, on all of these devices.
Craft top-notch content. The #1 reason visitors will come to your site is your content. Review your portfolio to determine what you want to include and how you would organize everything in a way that makes sense to visitors. Good design should support your content, not overpower it.
Establish clear communications. This helps to keep you and the person you are working with on the same page. Ask for things in writing (e.g. proposal, work plan, payment schedule, scope of work, etc.) to help maintain clear communications.
Essential elements. In my opinion, these are elements that (most of the time) should be included on a website:

  • About us page. People want to know about you.
  • Contact page with a form. Including an email link is good, but sometimes people want to fill out a form. Use a CAPTCHA with that form to help reduce spam.
  •  Search feature. This is handy for content-heavy sites (e.g., a magazine with dozens/hundreds of articles).
  • Call to action. Tell visitors what you want them to do. Do you want visitors to sign up for your newsletter? Do you want them to download something (e.g., white paper)?
  • Website analytics. You can learn a lot from website analytics, such as how visitors found your site and what pages they visited. Google analytics is excellent, and it’s free.
  • Social icons. Let people know where they can find you, and connect with you.


Keeping costs manageable. You don’t need to spend several thousand dollars to have a website created for your business. (1) Instead of working with a full-service agency, you can work with a freelance professional or an advanced student. You can find these people via LinkedIn or through RISD’s job board. (2) Start with a smaller website (fewer pages). If your site is built within a CMS, you should be able to add more pages in the future. Having a website is part of doing business.


Leave a comment

Avatar About the Author:

previous arrow
next arrow