The essentials to consider before creating your website


Those who regularly pass here probably know it; I started full-time as a freelance web integrator / developer almost 2 years ago. Since then, I eat websites every day, for my greatest pleasure because even if everything can not be pink all the time, I can assure you that I am happy to get to work every morning (yes, it exists).

My time is divided into two main types of interventions; on the one hand as a freelance provider to web agencies for various missions, on the other as a “webmaster / site creator”, in the sense that I take care of the creation of websites from A to Z needs of small businesses, associations, artisans …

And even if each project is different, I find of course some similarities, especially on the process that leads to their start. And it is unfortunately at this stage that many mistakes are made if we have not taken the necessary hindsight and analysis time.

Because before considering aesthetics, the technology used, the beautiful slider with our beautiful pictures of products that we will put home … there are some fundamental questions to ask.

I thought that asking these questions clearly here could be useful for both my current and future clients as well as for the Internet users here.

A website … but why?

The worst reason to start a web site is precisely not to have one; just do it “because you have to,” “because everybody is doing it,” without questioning our needs and our specific goals.

They can be varied and multiple, some examples:

present their activity to the curious who are looking for information about us,
become known,
present the list of its products and services to make customers want to visit our store / contact us,
sell products directly,
to distinguish oneself from its competitors,
create a database of customers / prospects / contacts / products …,
present an event / register participants,
answer common questions that you are usually asked by phone, mail or mail (and therefore reduce your workload)

This analysis is essential because it will clearly define what the future site should be (and not be) by determining:

the type of site to create (showcase site, merchant site, news platform, …)
a first idea of ​​the various essential / optional elements that will have to be found there,
an idea of ​​the budget to devote to it. You will easily understand that the issue is not the same between a site “showcase” presenting your activities and answering the practical questions of your customers, and an e-commerce site generating a large part of your turnover.
possibly for those who have some knowledge in the field, a first idea of ​​the technology or technologies to use. It is still a little early to go to the end, but we can at least restrict between the use of a content management tool or not (CMS type WordPress, Drupal, Prestashop …), a CMS specialized in e-commerce or not … Of course take the advice of professionals on the subject seems essential to me.

Who are the targets? What are their expectations ?

In the process of creating a website, it is quite easy to fall into the trap of developing a tool that we like, before really considering what are our targets, their expectations and their needs.

The answer to this question usually follows quite logically from the previous step:

If our goal is to sell products, the target will be customers who want to buy our products, but probably also get practical information (detailed product characteristics, time and delivery method …)
if our goal is to allow registration to an event, the target will be potential visitors who want to get useful information and register easily,

This summary analysis can (or should?) Go much further with the technique of personas.

This is a technique widely used in design and marketing that consists of accurately describing fictitious people corresponding to one or more “typical profiles” of users of our site. We generally describe:

basic elements of their identity to make them “real”,
characteristics that may affect their experience with our site (familiarity with the web, patience, …)
their goals
scenarios of their use of the site
The goal is to get really “in the skin” of the target (s) of its website, to ensure that they meet their needs as best as possible.


What actions should your targets do after the visit to your site?

This is again a question logically following the previous one; the description of the various users of our website and their expectations makes it possible to define precisely what actions we would like them to perform after their visit:

– buy a product,
– to contact you (by form of contact, mail, telephone, visit on your site …)
– remember you,
– register for your event,
– subscribe to your newsletter or follow you on social networks,
– share your content on social networks,
– …

The entire design of the website should then be thought of to facilitate the attainment of this objective.

We often hear about the term “call to action” in web marketing, usually referring to the visible buttons representing the main action desired by the owner of the site: “Add to cart”, “Subscribe to the newsletter” , “Contact us” …

Of course, we’ll make sure these action buttons are highlighted, but that’s not all! The complete structure of the site must be designed for easy navigation, complete information of the visitor so that he can in all circumstances achieve his goal … and therefore yours.

What do your competitors / partners / customers do, or just other sites in the industry?

It is better not to have blinders in the very rich and ever-changing world of the internet. If this is one of the prerequisites of professionals in the sector to keep informed about what is happening, developments, good and bad practices, I also often recommend to my customers to be interested in what happens in their own sector of activity.

I ask them if they know the sites of their competitors, partners, customers / suppliers … and what they find relevant, useful, or just right in their eyes.

This allows you to keep an eye on what is happening in the industry, possibly to check that you have not forgotten anything in your own analysis, or even to give us some good ideas.

Attention, it does not mean to become a true copy of what already exists, quite the contrary! The idea is precisely to be able to determine how to stand out. I come here precisely.

How to stand out? What makes your difference?