We all know we need websites. What we do with them varies – some are very interactive, some are more like static brochures that you have to hit yourself in the head to add content to regularly. Some are eCommerce based to generate income. The variations are endless. The part that doesn’t change is the prep work way before you start designing a website or having someone design it.
Some of the answers you need to determine the type of website you need:
- Will it have eCommerce?
- Do you want to gather emails/names for a drip or email campaign?
- Is any of it private where a password is required for premium content?
- Will it feature articles written regularly and by whom?
- Do you need to bring in other business management tools such as IDX, HubSpot, SalesForce, and more?
- Will there be many authors working on the site?
- Can you budget for other people to help you create content?
What about the rest of the prep work?
- Do you have a domain?
- If so, do you control the domain records?
- Do the name servers point to a server you have access to? If not, changing this could bring down many services if you aren’t aware of the current set up.
- Do you have an SSL certificate in place?
- Do you have an email marketing system or CRM that will need to work with the site?
- Where is your mail hosted? The MX record is critical to know this and make sure you don’t muck that up.
- If you move your site from existing hosting situation, will it affect your mail? Sometimes hosting companies have the mail tied to domain registration, site hosting. Eliminate one of those pieces and the mail can disappear without warning.
Don’t forget social profiles:
- Are you changing your URL? If so, you’ll need to change links on all social profiles.
- Do you have links on LinkedIn business page, FB business page to specific landing pages on your existing site? If so, remember to change those later.
It’s about that list I’m always talking about. Remember the LIST of all profiles, access, logins, etc. that are tied to your online presence? You need this list to save time and frustration. This will also prompt you to fill in any holes. Recently, I had a new client who wanted our team to clean up his social presence. What we found is that not only did he have three LinkedIn profiles, two YouTube channels, two Google business pages and three Google+ profiles, he also had five GoDaddy accounts. We were able to consolidate all of it to create a clear path to his credibility and new site.
Just in the real estate industry alone, there are many reputable companies that specialize in development and hosting of sites for this industry, tying in IDX solutions, CRMs and more. With that in mind, I’m finding my time lately is best spent helping these brokers and other small business owners gather what is in place, research solutions of tools for them and helping them implement so they can turn the regular content over to junior staff members, interns and leave the site maintenance to these specialized hosting companies. I’ll keep creating content for them and reviewing what is in place to make sure it is all working as expected.
That being said, there are also a ton of scammy companies who rely on canned content that is the same as your competitors to populate pages. They retain control so you are stuck relying on them and their timelines of outsourced staff members to get your site current.
Some things to ask them to vet:
- Is the content you are creating for me unique?
- Who else in my market is using your services (links and TALK TO THEM – even if they are competitors)?
- What is their feeling on SCHEMA markup? They should know what you are talking about. This is NOT the same as SEO, it’s part of it, but not the same. If they try to tell you it doesn’t really matter or is the same, hang up.
- How about SSL certificates and HTTPS compliance? If you are using plugins or pulling in scripts from their sites, will you still have the “green padlock” on your site?
- What is their back up and restore policy? How easy?
- Will you be able to add to the site easily? Navigation? Change out home pages, stock pages? Modify listings, products, add users and plugins? You don’t want to be stuck.
- How are their templates modified, especially if they used a standard set of them – can you easily change colors and branding or do you have to go through them?
- What SEO plugins do they use?
- Can their site include YOUR generated Google Analytics tracking code? You want to control all these aspects – nothing for YOUR online presence should be under THEIR names.