Website Design & Development Checklist

There's a lot to consider when you begin the process of having a website designed and developed for you. For most people, knowing where to start can be quite daunting. This quick reference guide is intended to show you the most essential elements you will need for your website.

The 2 Essential Elements for all Websites

  1. A domain name
  2. A web hosting account

Domain Name

Your domain name is your website address on the internet and gives you an online identity or brand. It's a valuable part of your business identity and is an important marketing tool that can help customers find and identify with your business. (source: business.gov.au Register your domain name).image of how domian names work

Your domain name gives you, and only you, 2 things:

  1. the right to host a website, and
  2. have email @yourdomainname.

You don't have to have email if you don't want or vise versa, you don't have to have a website but can still have email. Most people require both.

Web Hosting Accounts

A web hosting service is a type of Internet hosting service that allows individuals and organizations to make their website accessible via the World Wide Web. Web hosts are companies that provide space on a server owned or leased for use by clients, as well as providing Internet connectivity, typically in a data center. (source: wikipedia, Web hosting service).

You can choose to host the site yourself or have your developer host the site for you. Unless you know your way around servers, it is best to let your developer host the site for you. You can expect to pay a monthly hosting fee, and this normally starts at around $25 p/m and goes upwards from there depending on a variety of factors, such as, the size of your site, how many databases you are using, the bandwidth required, where you want the data center that is hosting the site to be (Australia is more expensive), etc.


Elements not compulsory but good for SEO

301 Redirects

If you need to change the URL of a page as it is shown in search engine results, we recommend that you use a server-side 301 redirect. This is the best way to ensure that users and search engines are directed to the correct page. The 301 status code means that a page has permanently moved to a new location (Source: Google, 301 Redirects). 301 redirects are very useful for maintaining whatever rank the old page had in the search engines and transferring it to the new page. It also means you can remove old pages and free up storage space on the server and lower web page load times.

Custom 404 page

A 404 page is what a user sees when they try to reach a non-existent page on your site. This may be because they've clicked on a broken link, the page has been deleted, or they've mistyped a URL (Source: Google, Creating useful 404 pages). Sites with no custom 404 page have higher abandonment rates than those with a custom 404 page. Users need to know that while they didn't find the exact page they where looking for, they may have found a similar page on your site. Take a look at our custom 404 page.

Favicon

A favicon is a graphic image (icon) associated with a particular Web page and/or Web site. Many recent user agents (such as graphical browsers and newsreaders) display them as a visual reminder of the Web site identity in the address bar or in tabs. (source: W3C, How to Add a Favicon to your Site). Look up to your top left of the browser window and you will see a miniture version of our logo. This is a favicon and servers don't like seeing no favicon.ico file in the root directory of your web hosting account. Even if the file is blank, it still should be there.

A Robots.txt file

A robots.txt file restricts access to your site by search engine robots that crawl the web. These bots are automated, and before they access pages of a site, they check to see if a robots.txt file exists that prevents them from accessing certain pages. All respectable robots will respect the directives in a robots.txt file, although some may interpret them differently. However, a robots.txt is not enforceable, and some spammers and other troublemakers may ignore it. For this reason, we recommend password protecting confidential information (source: Google, Block or remove pages using a robots.txt file).

A Sitemap

Sitemaps are a way to tell Google about pages on your site we might not otherwise discover. In its simplest terms, a XML Sitemap - usually called Sitemap, is a list of the pages on your website. Creating and submitting a Sitemap helps make sure that Google knows about all the pages on your site, including URLs that may not be discoverable by Google's normal crawling process. (source: Google, About Sitemaps). You can submit sitemaps manually, or wait for serach engines to find your pages. It is best to submit a sitemap as soon as your site has been built. If you are running a content management system, it will usually build the sitemap for you. If your site has been built in XHTML, it will need to be manually updated and added to the server.


Things to Consider

  1. Email accounts
  2. Aesthics/Functionality/SEO
  3. Objectives