After a recent discussion with a potential client about the investment required to develop a new website I left the conversation feeling rather deflated. I couldn’t believe that in 2018 someone was looking for a cheap website – without any comprehension of the amount of work that’s involved.
Mulling over our chat I came to the conclusion that the person probably had no understanding about the development requirements of a modern website – and why would they? In fact why would any business considering a new website be any different? I don’t ever recall seeing a task list.
As web developers, we study continually and implement the ever-changing, best-practice techniques into each new project and continually adapt to Google’s rule changes as a matter of course.
NB: This is by no means an exhaustive list and I may have omitted items … but it should provide a clear picture of exactly what modern site design entails.
1. Identify where your customers are (local, national, international etc).
2. Select a web developer that comes highly recommended and who will provide a detailed proposal and quote.
3. Conduct keyword and competitor research
4. Choose a website platform – we recommend WordPress. (Incredibly, almost 1/3 of the Internet now runs on WordPress – approx. 100 million websites).
5. Create a site map of the content to be included
6. Write or source content about your business, products & services (min. 300 – ideally 1900 words per page).
7. Source good quality photographs (at least one per page).
8. Collate other media assets (videos, pdfs, podcasts etc).
9. Gather up testimonials & reviews.
10. Make a list of websites that you like (it’s helpful for your developer).
11. Provide correct contact details & opening hours
12. Provide corporate colours, company slogan and other marketing collateral.
13. Set up a robots.txt file to prevent Google indexing the website during development.
14. Resize, crop and optimise images (www.webrezizer.com will help if you’re not a Photoshop guru).
15. If your images are the correct size this will help you optimise them (www.tinypng.com).
16. Ensure images are given meaningful names (to help with your SEO) and named correctly – don’t use _ between words. (2017 Holden Commodore SV6 Black.jpg is a lot more useful to Google than IMG_3837.jpg)
17. Add meaningful Alt tags (alternative descriptions) to all website images.
18. An image sitemap and the use of caption tags also help Google to better understand your content.
19. Add hyperlinks to your content (both internal and external links) if relevant.
20. If videos are included ensure that they resize to fit different screen sizes (a container may be required).
21. If a large Google map is to be included it will require an API key to be generated, installed and verified.
22. Create a Google Analytics universal account.
23. Install Google Analytics tracking script or code.
24. Set up a quote and/or contact form with validation.
25. Style the form fields for better presentation.
26. Generate and install a Google reCaptca (anti-spam) API key.
27. Add the reCaptca code to the contact form.
28. Create a thank you page or insert a tracking script to measure submitted forms.
29. Submit form(s) to ensure client receives them.
30. Install Yoast SEO plugin.
31. Generate XML site map(s) for pages, posts, images etc.
32. Review sitemaps – remove unwanted items (eg. Admin pages or shopping cart and checkout if the site doesn’t have a shop).
33. Create and add a favicon (this is the business logo that appears in the browser tab).
34. Add social media icons that link to the relevant business accounts.
35. View and test all pages on a phone and tablet
36. Remove excess spacing and unwanted elements
37. Fix typography issues (long words in large font sizes often don’t display well on a phone)
38. Ensure all phone numbers are click to call (optionally, these can also include tracking)
39. Test for any broken links and other display issues
40. Create mobile desktop icons (4 sizes)
41. Ensure Google Map and any other embedded elements resize correctly
42. Make sure text is easy to read and that buttons are easy to click
43. Test the viewport (to ensure the site doesn’t move from side to side)
44. Optimise the key pages of the website based on the keyword research findings:
45. Optimise the remaining pages to make them as relevant as possible.
46.Add schema and structured data markup to key pages (eg. Home, Products / Services, FAQ etc).
47. Test pages with Google’s structured data testing tool (fix any issues)
48. Run a GTMetrix Site Performance Report (to check Home Page load time and areas for improvement).
49. Implement GT Metrix recommendations (that don’t break the website) to get page load score as close as possible to 100%
50. Move site from development to live environment.
51. Find and replace all link paths.
52. Re-point name servers (if required)
53. Purchase an SSL Certificate (if required), many hosting companies now offer the free Let’s Encrypt certificate that auto-renews.
54. Install, configure and test SSL Certificate (Google recommends that all sites now run under https)
55. Re-test quote / contact form to ensure it still works – and that the client receives the request.
56. Remove the robots.txt file (or modify it to allow Google to index the website)
57. Connect the website to Google Search Console
58. Add code snippet or upload verification file to validate site
59. Test sitemap with Google to ensure there are no issues
60. Fetch and index site with Google for desktop and mobile
61. Repeat steps 56-59 for non-www version the site
62. Create Microsoft Bing Webmaster account (optional for Australia – Bing has a 10% market share)
63. Submit the most important pages to Bing search engine
64. Create a redirect file so the URLs of the old website point to the relevant pages of the new site
65. Add tracking script to record “Click-to-Call” website phone numbers
66. Audit existing business listings and online references
67. Claim, setup and optimise Google My Business account
68. Claim, setup and optimise Bing Places for Business account
69. Claim setup and optimise Apple Maps account
70. Claim, setup and optimise Yelp Account (Google, Apple & Microsoft all rely on Yelp for business information and reviews)
71. Claim, setup and optimise the top business directory listings and map services (eg. Yellow Pages, White Pages, Where Is, True Local etc)
72. Publish Google Posts regularly
73. Add UTM Tracking Code to Google My Business & Bing Places for Business Website URLs
I have not included AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) which will benefit some businesses, or dwelled on standard layout, design and content publishing tasks. Online shops with eCommerce also add an extensive list of different tasks.