You know that you need a website for your business. It needs to have some compelling content, including a quick overview of who you are, what you do, and your services offered.
In this post, I’ll share some of the questions I ask my clients as we start creating a new website for their business. Whether we’re upgrading a site that they’ve had for a few years or starting from scratch, I use this set of questions as we dive into the work.
#1: What does it need to do for you?
When I first meet with clients to build a new website or upgrade an out-of-date one, this is at the top of my list of questions. Then I always go a bit deeper to see what their long-term plans are for their site, their services, their business.
#2: What else?
Yes, this is one quick way to go deeper into the conversation around building a new site. It is so easy to look at what we need a website to do in the short term. I ask this question to look at the bigger picture of what’s going on within their business.
Building a website, whether it is a new site or rebuilding an old site, requires a bit of planning for short and long term business needs. Some business types need an online shop, while others plan to host videos on their site or podcast episodes. Starting with a robust enough website platform to support their long-term needs and a quality hosting service will set their business plans up for success.
A lot can go into choosing the best website platform for your business website. I break down my three of the top website building platforms here.
#3: Which online services do you need or want for your business?
Making sure that your online services work with your site is typically called the site’s integrations.
Preferred integrations are an essential factor in choosing which website platform to use, now more than ever. For example, Squarespace will only directly integrate with MailChimp for an email marketing service. If you already have your list in another email marketing system and like it there, this may not be a good fit for you. For more on popular email marketing options, check out this comparison post.
(On a side note, Squarespace offers the option to push your email subscriber info to a Google Sheet. You can then import into your email marketing system…but many small business owners find this repetitive task isn’t one they want to add to their to-do lists.)
Another standard integration that my clients want for their websites is the ability for prospects to book appointments or sessions with them. I prefer Acuity Scheduling for most of my clients and this integrates nicely with Squarespace.
With all the above in mind, WordPress has plugin options to allow many integrations, including both MailChimp and Acuity. For this reason, I recommend WordPress for most businesses.
#4: How fast do we need this site to be?
In website designer speak how quickly your site’s pages load is often referred to as the site speed. A site’s speed is determined by a complicated mix of functions happening across your site when someone visits it. One of the top reasons for a slow loading site is server speed.
Your website’s info will need to be stored on a server somewhere. Many small businesses either do not have the server space onsite (or possibly no server at all), so hosting the website at their business location isn’t an option. This situation leads most small businesses to search for a reliable hosting service with good customer service, quick site speed, and a simple admin interface.
There are two options that I recommend to my clients for hosting:
Yes, you see that correctly. I have two recommendations. I’ve worked with many other hosting services and have had lukewarm to abysmal experiences with each of them.
FlyWheel has consistently provided stellar customer service to my clients and me. I’ve noticed that their hosting tends to allow for a decent site loading time compared to other hosts, and their admin interface is relatively simple.
Make It Fit You
Before you hire a website designer, take an inventory of your short and long term goals for your business. Look at what your site will need to be able to do to help you achieve your goals. Will it need to host a lot of videos or your podcast episodes? Do you plan to sell items on your site, including books or planners?
Creating this list can take a few weeks or a month. I always recommend keeping it in a running document that you can add items to as you build out your bigger business plans. A Google Doc, Word doc, or notebook tend to be all that’s needed: nothing fancy.
Remember, you don’t need to have the solutions to how your site will achieve each item on your list. It is for your website designer to weigh in on how to accomplish each item, what costs may be involved, and what each item will take to be ready for your site’s launch.