1. Your website isn't going to do much good if you don't actually use it.
Congratulations! You've just paid for a well designed website! It has all the fun tools that you asked for, including a blog, photo galleries, streaming video and contact forms. Now what?
From this point forward, the website is your baby. It can market your business and spread the word on your organization, but only if you login every once in a while and give it a whirl. Spend time on it as often as you can updating information, posting new photos, and adding valuable content. If you are a church, make sure to update the calendar, post sermons and add photos from recent events. If you are a business, post articles that your customers would find valuable. Explain why you matter, and why they should spend money at your organization.
If you don't have time to work on your website, consider enlisting a volunteer for your non-profit organization, or hiring someone to update it. Most web design companies, including this one, would love to help manage your website, and can do it without costing an arm and a leg.
2. When it comes to design, please trust our experienced professional opinion.
This may sound like we don't want your input. We love your input! It's what helps us understand your industry and make sure we know exactly how to serve you best. We know that you understand your clients, customers and constituents better than we do.
It is this trust that we would love for you to reciprocate. Whether we are designing a poster or a website, many thousands of hours of work, education and experience are guiding our design decisions, from what fonts and colors to use, to the overall layout of the piece. We want to take care of you, and we want your marketing piece to be effective. Trust us, we are on your team!
3. When you hire an agency or freelancer to build your website, you need to contribute your expertise.
As designers, we live in the world of colors, shapes, software and computer code. By and large, we don't know what it takes to run your business, what your customers are looking for, or how your non-profit functions.
We can build the structure of the website, but to make it a true website, we need content. Content includes information about your organization, information about your products and services, information about your staff, contact information, photos and videos. We can even assist in creating this content, but we still need information to go on. If you are starting a brand new website project with an agency, be prepared to answer lots of questions. The sooner you provide this information, the sooner you've got an excellent website.
4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) doesn't happen overnight.
As web developers, we wish that we could launch your website on a Tuesday, and by Wednesday morning, your website would show up at the top of Google search results for every single key word or phrase you'd like.
Alas, that is a super power that we don't have. In fact, no one has that ability. In our experience, getting your site on the first page of results takes anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks. Getting within the top five may take even longer.
There are many, many reasons your site may not be at the top of a search engine page. But to summarize (too) briefly, there are many thousands of other websites competing to get that top spot who have been out on the internet longer than your site, and you need to establish some credibility. I'll write up another post talking about how to establish this website credibility at a later time. The good news here is that, while time consuming, it's not technically difficult. Most clients can handle it on their own if they know what to do.