Getting started with a new website can come with a lot of questions and can be confusing due to the number of steps involved and tasks that have to be done and set into place. My goal is to simplify that process and provide a crystal clear roadmap of exactly what will happen and what’s expected of each party involved. Below are some details outlining the steps in getting started.
The first step is to fill out the onboarding form. This form is designed to capture all of the basic details about you and your company as well as your primary goals for the role that your website will play in your business. Don’t worry about being 100% complete as we can always add to this information later if we need to. This form should just serve as a starting block so I can get an overall idea of who I’m working with and what you’re looking for!
The first few questions on this form aim to acquire your basic business information. Details like your official business name, phone number, address, and email address are important to ensure that I consistently and accurately add this information to all of the necessary places on your website!
Branding and Social Presence
Next, I’ll ask you a few basic questions about what your primary goals are for your website. I’ll have you upload your logo, tell me any business taglines or slogans you want to use, and what geographic locations you serve. I’ll also ask you to copy and paste the links to any and all social media accounts that belong to your business that should be added to the site.
Finally, I’ll get the information that I need to set up your domain name and template/layout (if applicable). You will also have the opportunity to tell me your unique ideas for your site, advanced features that you want to include, or special pages that are required! The more information that you add here, the better I will be able to see your vision for your website!
Depending on your industry, I may also ask some specific questions related to the special steps or requirements for your website. For example, I will ask my real estate clients for their MLS information and IDX preferences.
Domain Name Setup
If this will be a new website, setting up your domain name will be the first actionable step I take while I prepare your WordPress environment on WP Engine. If I am redesigning your website and you need to keep your old site live while the new site is under development, then I’ll set up your domain name a bit later. I don’t want you to lose any business on your current website while your new website is being created.
Setting up your domain name consists of updating your domain’s host records to point to the server that your website will be hosted on. This is done at your domain registrar (such as Godaddy, Register.com, or Network Solutions) by logging into your account there. There are two ways we can make this happen:
Update the host records yourself
I’ll tell you what host records to change and give you the necessary details. You can then log in to your account and update it yourself or email customer support at your registrar and see if they will update it for you.
Let me take care of it
Many of my clients prefer to give me temporary access to their account at their registrar so I can quickly go in and update the necessary information for them. If you prefer to have me update the host records of your domain, let me know and I will be more than happy to do it.
This stage is where I will work closely with you in gathering and creating the necessary content for your website. Some of my clients know exactly what text and images they want on each page and some don’t. Either way is okay! The first step for me is to come up with a basic page structure and discuss with you what information should be on each of these pages. Below are some basic examples of what I will need from you.
If you have a logo, great! If not, I can work with you to create one that perfectly fits your business and branding. During the onboarding form, you will be asked to upload your logo if you have one. Please note that I need uncompressed files of all formats that are available to you.
Images can make or break a website. My goal is to use high-quality, optimized images that look great on any device and load fast even on slower internet connections. It’s typically a bad idea to include poor quality or blurry images anywhere on your website.
If you don’t have decent images that are required for a page, don’t worry! I can help you take the necessary photos or find beautiful stock images that perfectly fit the situation.
Please ensure that any text that you give me to include on your site is spell-checked and accurately represents your products, services, and/or business. You know your industry better than me! To save time, please send me any text you get together in a plainly written email (no phone text messages or attachments please!).
I will also ask you to send me the links to all social media profiles that you want to include on your site. Make sure you differentiate between personal social media profiles and business pages if I am going to include both. (For example, a real estate agent may want to include their personal Facebook profile for their bio section but their official business page at the bottom of their website.)
I will also ask for any other resources, videos, PDFs, etc. that should be included on your website and any specific requirements on how they should be presented.
Working Together Efficiently
The most important part of getting the content together is getting it on time. If we discuss that you are responsible for coming up with a list of things I need, I greatly appreciate getting this information to me in a timely manner. This will allow me to keep the process moving quickly and succeed at meeting your deadline!
Website Creation and Review
This is where I get busy creating the design of your website and uploading your content. There are a lot of steps here and how long it takes will vary depending on the scope of your individual project. I normally estimate that the time it takes me to completely set up a website is between 2 to 6 weeks but, again, can vary by industry, scope, and getting the content on time.
Other than creating the design and uploading your content, there are also other things I’m doing like installing plugins, adding on-site SEO, and activating any 3rd party services or accounts necessary. I’ll make sure and give you access to any accounts that are set up during this process.
While I am setting everything up, it’s common for my clients to come across additional content or ideas that they want to be added to their website. If this is the case, I encourage you to give me your new ideas or content as soon as possible so I can reduce the amount of rework that has to be done resulting in additional costs. Like all additional setup or monthly work, I’ll let you know how much it will cost beforehand so you’re not surprised by additional expenses at the end of the month!
After I complete your website, I will submit it to you for one round of review. This is where we will discuss any changes to the content, design, or functionality that I need to make before the website goes live. Additional rounds of review are available, however, any new changes that are requested after the first round will come with an additional cost. I will let you know if this is the case before proceeding.
The WordPress Dashboard
When your website is complete, I’ll introduce you to your WordPress dashboard. Your dashboard is where you can log into the back end of your website and add/edit pages, posts, custom post types, products, or any other information relating to the content on your site. I strive to make the WordPress dashboard as simple and user-friendly as possible, but I do understand that everyone comes with different levels of experience with systems like this. This is why I offer direct email, call, and text customer support when you need it. I also include daily backups of your entire website files and database so you never have to worry about making a mistake that can’t be undone!
By default, I limit access to some of the more complicated settings or features that WordPress includes in the dashboard. This is to keep things simple and easier for you to find what you need while leaving out some advanced features and settings that you probably won’t need to mess with often, or at all. However, this is 100% your website and I will give you full access to every part of the site should you request it. I understand that owning a standalone website is probably one of the reasons you chose me to build it!
Ongoing Support and Maintenance
Going forward, I will completely maintain and upkeep your new website as well as provide direct customer support via email, call, or text. My highest priority is keeping your site secure, functioning properly, and looking perfect 24/7.
I’ll continually keep your website up-to-date, secure, backed up daily, and include 5-minute uptime monitoring so you can have peace of mind knowing that if any issues do arise, I will deal with it immediately.
You will also be able to continue using any premium tools, plugins, themes, or third-party services that are integrated into your site without having to pay for a license. This is due to the fact that I own developer licenses for each of these services/tools allowing my clients to access them at no cost.
Not only do I want your website to look and function great, but I also want it to perform excellently too. From time to time I’ll contact you with some tips, strategies, ideas, or advice if I think it can improve the performance of your website and make a bigger difference to your business overall!
If you have any questions regarding the steps to creating your website, please contact me anytime to talk!