Washington, D.C. is known for its street layout following a grid pattern. This means that most of the streets throughout the city are named following a specific pattern; for example, in D.C., most of the east–to-west streets were named using letters and the north-to-south streets were named with numbers. It seems simple enough, doesn't it? One should only need a basic understanding of mathematics and the alphabet to navigate the nation's capital. Well, my friends, it's not true.
D.C. isn't just intersections of straight lines that horizontally and vertically cross one another to make a clean graph of streets that come ready and easy to navigate. There are diagonal streets, side traffic signals, half traffic circles, parks placed smack dab in the middle of intersecting streets, missing alphabet letters, intersections that merge upward of five or more streets at a time, and so many one way streets I lost count. This is not to mention the restricted parking zones for specific times of the day, the year, and residential areas—and, of course, there are pedestrians and bikers everywhere to consider.
Mapping Out Your Website Plan
We aren't here to dissect the traffic patterns of a city following a grid system, but the metaphor is helpful in explaining the intricacies of website development. Much like the streets of D.C., creating a conversion focused website isn't as simple as "ABC" or counting "1-2-3." Navigating the many maps of website development takes time, effort, consistency, and patience. However, similarly to our above metaphor, it is absolutely possible to learn your way around the many demands of search engines and website development. With willingness and dedication, you too can learn the system and all of the exceptions to the rules.
Tips to Get You Started
Referring back to our metaphor of D.C. streets, the city is also separated into four quadrants. The four sections have an axis that starts at the U.S. Capitol Building. Here's a tip: if you ever get lost in Washington, D.C., you can refer to this central point and find your way back or you can map out where you want to be from this central hub.
In regards to website development, in order to get from point A to point B with your online marketing, you need to make sure you know where you are and where you need to be. Identify which quadrant of development you're currently in and then determine the best route for getting to the quadrant you'd like to be in. Remembering, of course, that there is more than one way to get to your end goal.
Consider the following as you plan:
Design: The design portion of any marketing material has always been important, and that is never going to change. Focus on creating a design that both reflects your brand and captures your audience. Right now, simplistic imagery, story-telling, and open designs are trending, so it is a great time to jump in and get started.
Content: As mentioned above, telling a story on your website is a popular approach these days—and an effective one. Not only can you tell this story with beautiful images, but you can reiterate your message and the points of your story throughout your main text sections. Whatever you do, make sure the story is worth reading and remains focused on the problem you are attempting to solve for your audience.
Technology: Website technology should support the goals of the design and content elements while also enhancing the experience for the user. All of the systems and functionality on the site should be developed in such a way that makes a visitors browsing experience better than they expected. For example, if your website has any kind of animation feature it should animate for an intentional purpose and not just for the sake of having movement on the site. For more about technology and user experience, visit this post.
Domain: Purchasing a domain name is a small detail in the grand scheme of things, but it can have a lasting effect for years to come. Domain names are what carry the reputation of your website; it's the front door of your website home. Be wary of purchasing "optimized" domain names or domain names that are too far off the track of what you're selling. For examples, if you're in the plumbing industry, pick a domain name that's related to your business name or what you're offering.
Analytics: Tracking how your website's performing is one of the most important steps in campaign development. You'll want to consider if your website is performing as it should, under performing for your expectations and/or where you'd like it to improve in performance for the future. Using some kind of developer tools is helpful in this area.
The above are some of the core items to consider when building a website, but they aren't the only considerations you should have. Unless you're planning to quit your day job and invest the time and efforts it would require to become a professional website developer, you will want the benefits of hiring a team of experts to help you along the way. After all, you're likely attached to your day job and looking to build a website so that your business will grow into something grand.