Does your website need updating? Some new photos, nicer colours, or a complete re-org? Do you need your website to be “responsive”, or readable by phones and tablets? Has your website manager left and you need someone to take over?
Have you outgrown your website?
Most websites now use a content management system, or CMS, because they make it easy to update stuff from time to time without contacting a developer, or to allow other to contribute to the site. A CMS acts much like a computer program, so you just get a few basic pointers on how to work it, and then you edit and add pictures much like any program on your computer.
Joomla and WordPress are a couple of popular content management systems. Joomla is robust in the amount of information it can seamlessly store, organize and retrieve. It’s a workhorse with a bit of a learning curve for users, but solid and reliable. WordPress is actually a system for blogging, but it’s easy to configure it to act like a website. It’s good for small to medium projects and is easy to learn for most users.
Do you need to change how your website looks?
Coding with HTML, CSS, XML renders layout, style and behind-the-scenes directions. It can be used to build simple websites from scratch, or to change existing website themes.
HTML organizes elements on a page. Is there a big box with other boxes inside? Are there bullets or a menu down the right side of the page or left? Or both?
CSS give colour and shape those elements, like the kind of font and what colours go where.
XML stores information behind the scenes, to get the attention of search engines, or to spring into action on a device used by the visually impaired.
Can people read your website on a cellphone?
Expanding a website on your cellphone so you can see the teensy weensy writing is fiddly business. Websites using responsive design are mobile friendly, with nice big writing and blocks of info that settle comfortably onto a small screen.
As the use of tablets and cellphones for browsing websites grows, so does the need for responsive design.
Is your website showing up on a search?
SEO is about tossing treats to search engines like Google and Yahoo so they’ll come and sniff some more. Simple steps include submitting an XML site map, heading, title and description tags for each page, strong internal links that are well labelled. More effective is good organization and keeping your content fresh, relevant and interesting, so that people “like” it on Facebook or tweet it. That really gets the attention of the search engines, and then your page ranks higher.
What would happen if you lost your website?
This is what people don’t think about until their site goes down in flames, or gets hacked. Then what? A backup is, or should be, a duplicate of your current site that you can just pop back into place in the distressing event that you lose your site, just like any backup file for a computer failure.
Don’t fall into the trap of being so enthusiastic about whatever you’re offering that it becomes about YOU and not the user. Case in point: the veterinarian who just remortgaged her house to buy top notch surgical equipment wants to display it on the home page, when what sick pet owners want to see is happy, bright-eyed pets on examining tables. Don’t show the means to cut up their pet!