Checklist: Start a Site

What Do You Need?

  1. Why do you want a website?
  2. Who’s your audience and what do they want? If they say, “You need a website!” what do they mean? Do they want to point friends to your site, buy from your site, check your reputation, get more information about you?
  3. How much can you afford at this point? What’s your overall marketing budget?
  4. Media your customers use: Regular website, mobile website.
  5. Who will maintain the site? Do you need training? How web-savvy are you?
  6. Do you already have a logo, visual style?
  7. How many pages, what’s their content?
    • Home: Usually who we are and what we offer. Weekly or daily information such as special deals, new products, and so on; and static information such as location, services, etc.
    • About us: Biographies of the principals, years in business, major projects, etc.
    • Contact Us: Address, phone number, email, email form, an online map that customers can use to get to your location.
    • Links/Resources: to businesses with which the company has relationships; professional associations; related organizations; news stories.
    • Blog: Set up, link to, include as a page on the site. Could be the site itself.
    • Calendar of events (non-profits).
    • Gallery of photos, artwork, products.
    • E-commerce: Sales pages (database) and shopping cart, SSL security.
    • Donations: SSL security, PayPal or other payment system (non-profits).
  8. On all pages:
    • Contact information.
    • Facebook & Twitter buttons.
    • Citysearch, Yelp, Merchant Circle, and other pages on which the company has a presence.
    • Link to home.

What the Web Designer Does

  1. Develop a visual design that appeals to the target audiences.
  2. Find a host for your site if necessary. Criteria are good price and good customer service.
  3. Non-profits: Research and recommend an organization that will handle donations, fundraiser and event payments, memorial gifts, and other financial transactions using separate forms and receipts for each type of transaction. This organization needs to be able to accept checks and Visa, MasterCard, and American Express cards; has low fees; is secure; will transfer payments to your bank account upon request; and offers good customer service and recordkeeping.
  4. For-profits: Research and recommend an e-commerce system and product database.
  5. Develop and implement a search-engine optimization (SEO) plan.
  6. Set up Google Analytics to track how successful various pages and keywords are (you decide on the success criteria).
  7. Provide a “mechanical translation” option on all pages, and help you write and edit your existing text to make it more readily translated.
  8. Provide a method for making type larger and smaller on the page.
  9. Provide an SSL (Secure Socket Layer—i.e., security system) for each page on which people can enter personal data or from which they can go to PayPal.
  10. Include a CAPTCHA system to reduce spam coming from online forms.
  11. Ensure that the text on the pages will print out correctly (no text cut off on the edges, for example).
  12. Include buttons that let readers change the text size as needed.
  13. Optimize the text for audio screen readers and add a “Skip to the Main Content” link at the top.

Required from Client

  1. Content for the pages.
  2. Review of drafts and changes within a reasonable number of working days.
  3. A single point of contact for questions and decisions.
  4. Purchase of the URL (website name) and hosting service.
  5. A copy of Dreamweaver or Contribute for site maintenance if you will maintain the site yourself.
  6. A Google account login and password, for Google Analytics and Tools access, if desired.
  7. Payments as per the letter of agreement.

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