In this article I am going to outline the process that I use for creating a website for a client.
This is the process that I have used to develop a website for Astles of Nottingham – this is a new florist and greengrocers shop based in Nottingham that also wishes to establish an online shop for both parts of the business.
Choosing the Domain
Rather than base our domain name around keywords, we chose to use the name of the business – Astles of Nottingham.
We decided not to include the ‘of’ to slightly shorten the domain name to make it easier to put into the browser. Also the keywords are ‘Astles’ and ‘Nottingham’ – these are words that customers will put into the search box when the business is established.
We decided to use the ‘co.uk’ suffix because it is a UK based business but we did also buy the ‘.com’ and redirected this to ‘co.uk’ just in case customers put ‘.com’ into the browser (or a competitor decides to buy it and divert the traffic to their site -this actually happened to me in a previous business!).
Establish where the website is to be hosted. I own Reseller Hosting so in the majority of cases I set up my clients on my web host but it is important to ask first!
It is important for both branding and professional reasons to set up hosted email addresses and to forward these to my customers normal email inbox as appropriate. (This is in addition to their Google Gmail account which is set up when they create their Google account below.) This is important for the Contact Form on the website.
I asked my customer who the top 3 competitors are to her business and she gave me about 10 names. Most of these businesses have relatively poorly-designed sites although we did pick up some great tips from one or two of the sites!
It is a great idea to scope out the competition and in particular check out what keywords they are targeting so that you can get more ideas for your keyword list – see below.
Choosing The Theme
My customer wants to make alterations to the site i.e. input products and also blog posts. I needed an easy interface and WordPress is ideal for this.
We decided to use the Avada Theme because this is the top-selling theme in Themeforest.net which means that it will be well-maintained and supported, most of the glitches will have been dealt with and it has loads of design options so the site can be created exactly as my customer requires.
I went through some of the demo design options, of which there are many, before we opted for a simple, clean design that is totally different to that of any of their competitors.
The downside of this theme is that, because it is fully-loaded’ set-up is comparatively complex and time-consuming as you need to track down the correct settings – and there are a lot of them.
Logo & Font
I then discussed the required font and logo with my customer. As luck would have it, they had an old photo with a font on it that they wanted to use. This related to a greengrocery business that had been in the family many years ago.
It is quite hard to track down a font from a photograph because there are literally thousands of font variations!
We eventually settled on ‘QTCoronation’ which has been used to created the ‘Astles’ logo. This took quite a bit of time but was well-worth the effort.
With regards to font size, I increased all the default font sizes in the theme to make the site easy for customers to read.
We wanted a colour scheme to run throughout the business. The shop is very ‘green’ in colour so we settled on green. However, I recommended a ‘light’ feel to the site so we decided to use white, light grey, and green as our colour palette but use the green as an accent colour.
The important thing is to find a colour palette that is aesthetically pleasing (- there are plenty of colour-palette sites that can help -) and that the colour palette is used consistently throughout the business to reflect the brand.
One of my favourite sites is the Robert Welch cutlery site which simply uses white and black and shades in between!
Graphics & Icons
Websites are a visual medium and graphics are an incredibly important element of website design. I therefore spent an afternoon with my customer trawling through graphics sites to find a home page graphic that reflected their business and my customer approve of. The home page is critical because it is the most used point of entry for visitors.
The best converting websites are those that do not have a lot of distractions and the customer can easily navigate to find what they want.
For this reason, the front of the website is a simple graphic that reflects what the business sells – vegetables, fruit and flowers. The customer can then do very little else other than to find out ‘About’ the business or visit either the ‘Greengrocers’ shop or the ‘Florists’ shop which is the whole point of the site.
From the website developers point of view, a significant amount of time can be spent on selecting and customising graphics. It is important that graphics are optimised for the web i.e. compressed and sized correctly to improve page-loading speeds.
This aspect of web-design is a major time-consumer and possibly not well-understood or valued by the customer.
I discussed the basic page structure for the site with my customer and we came up with a relatively simple starting structure. Also, with the addition of the online shop, many of the pages created relate to the efficient operation of the shop.
Because the business will sell a lot of products online, it is important to group the products into categories.
The two main product categories are ‘Florists’ and ‘Greengrocers’.
Within the ‘Florists’ category, we came up with the following sub-categories:
- Online flowers
- Valentines flowers
- Wedding flowers
- Funeral flowers
- Corporate flowers
Within the ‘Greengrocers’ category, we came up with the following sub-categories:
- Veg boxes
- Dried foods
Grouping products by category makes it easier for customers to find what they are looking for on the site and is a critical part of creating a website structure that works and is intuitive to use. Of course, categories can be added and deleted as required by the business.
This is the area where most of the competitors fall down and the reason why their websites receive less traffic than they might otherwise do – poor keyword research. As a result, their websites are optimised for relatively few keywords and often for keywords that they can never rank for.
For businesses servicing a local community, selecting keywords can be systematic as follows:
City State Keyword
Keyword City State
City State Abbreviation Keyword
Keyword City State Abbreviation
Keyword in City
Keyword in City State
Keyword in City State Abbreviation
Keyword State Abbreviation
Keyword in State
Keyword in State Abbreviation
Using this methodology, and selecting the business name and products and services offered, and even suburbs of a city, it is possible to develop a more comprehensive keyword list with which to work with.
When I showed the keyword list that I developed for ‘Astles of Nottingham‘ to my customer, they expressed surprise at the size and scope of the list.
Google, Social Media and Traffic
Each business needs to create a Google account. Why? Because around 85% of the search engine traffic is generated through the use of Google.
Also, I integrate my clients site with Google Analytics and Google Web Master Tools to keep a handle on traffic and to optimise the site.
Also, for local businesses, it is important to create a business profile in Google to get page one rankings in Google. Businesses need to verify that they own the business and fully-complete their profile.
The same process of creating a business profile needs to be followed for Bing because there are still many users of Bing as a search engine and it is important to pick up the additional 10% of traffic.
In addition to Google+, my customer has opted to connect her site to a Facebook page and a YouTube channel so that she can drive traffic through these media. She opted not to use Twitter and LinkedIn may be added in future.
It is important to consider a strategy for getting traffic to a clients website – possible options include:
- offline promotions driving visitors to the website
- social media
- PPC – including Google Adwords and Bing Advertising
In addition to SEO and social media, my customer will be running a monthly draw for a free bouquet or box of vegetables for new subscribers and registrants to her online shop. Once she has their contact details, she can then send them an email to bring them back into her website or store.
Plugins add additional functionality to WordPress. Using the Avada theme meant that I needed to download 4 plugins to make it function properly at the basic level – this included 2 slider plugins, Contact Form 7 and the Woocommerce plugin for the online shop.
The Woocommerce plugin is quite complicated and time-consuming to configure as there are a lot of potential settings to consider. For this reason, it is important to run through the settings with my client to ensure that they understand and agree with the settings that I have applied. For example, some products are zero-rated for VAT and others are not.
In addition to these plugins, I am adding the following plugins:
- ‘Regenerate Thumbnails’ to resize thumbnail graphics (free)
- ‘SEO By Yoast’ to SEO optimise the site – this is currently the best free SEO plugin available in my opinion but it takes some time to set up properly.(free)
- Backup Creator – this is a premium plugin by Robert Plank that enables me to automate the process ofbacking up the site on a regular basis.
- WP Sonic Defender – this is a premium plugin that moves the -wp-admin’ page to a new location to defeat brute-force attacks and has a number of addional security features.
- WP Legal Pages to create the legal pages for the site (premium)
- Google XML Sitemaps (free)
Plugins need to be selected with care as too many plugins can slow down the page load speed. On the other hand, you need the site to do what it needs to do!
I asked my customer whether she was affiliated to any Trade Associations as adding these to her site will potentially lend more authority and credibility to her business.
There are many online trade directories – adding my customers business details will improve search engine rankings over time
There are a number of options for creating the site content:
- I create it
- my customer creates it
- outsource it
- a combination of the above
The ‘About’ page will be written by my customer as she wants to cover her families long history as greengrocers in the Nottingham area. This will include some vintage photographs to illustrate this history.
The ‘Delivery’ page was created by researching competitors sites – it will need refinement in the light of operational experience.
My client wants to be able to add and delete products from the online shop. To enable her to do this, I will create a video showing her how to do this so she can create most of the shop content although I will support her with graphics etc.
Blog posts – I suggest that my client creates these (another training video will be created) to cover the following:
- promotions and special offers
- new products and services
- market news such as ‘in season’ produce and price variations
- forthcoming events such as valentines day, mothers day etc that relate to seasonal product sales
- winners of the customer monthly draw
- the initial shop launch
Some of these articles will be created around the targeted keyword list that I have created for my customer to drive SEO traffic to the site and to notify existing customers by email to drive them back to the site with a view to purchasing more.
The point about ‘Content’ is to agree with the customer who exactly will create it and to agree deadlines for completion – for many customers, this may mean that I end up doing the majority of the work to ensure that it gets done.
My customer is opening her shop on the 5th February, in time to sell flowers for Valentines Day.
Understanding my customers expectations for delivery of the website is important because if the time-scale is tight, it enables me to prioritise my work e.g. in this case create the Valentines products in the online shop before anything else!
As you can appreciate from this article, to set up a business website requires quite a bit of work if your purpose is to build on strong foundations. Unfortunately, many so-called website designers skip some of the necessary steps – particularly those that relate to invisible benefits or are deemed future ‘upsells’ to the customer.
In my opinion, 95% or more of business websites are not for for purpose, receiving little or no targeted traffic and poorly designed. Without traffic, a website is just so much digital dust and almost completely useless to the business owner – web designers know this but do not explain this to the customer. Without results, a lot of websites become stale and out-dated because the website owner has no incentive to invest further time or money.
By covering the rigorous process that I use for creating a website for a client, hopefully this has been helpful for you – this is for a small local greengrocers and florists i.e. a local business rather than an authority blog, sniper site or membership site.