Building a website (when you’re not a web designer)
An important part of a successful public relations career is the ability to be adaptable and to learn as you go. Whether it’s figuring out how to craft the perfect pitch, write engaging social content or, in my case, building a website from scratch, learning on the job is both challenging and rewarding.
Throughout my time in college and building my portfolio, I’d learned about WordPress and Weebly and had a general understanding of websites, but I had never done it for someone else in a professional capacity. My most recent project has been just that, and it’s been an exciting and interesting experience.
Here are four key takeaways:
The most important step of creating a website is preparing all the details before you actually begin designing. Determine which platform you’re using, what the URL will be, what the interactive capabilities need to be (Buy things? Book trips?), how many pages need to be included, and so on. Sitting down with a list and going through each of these things will make the process much more straightforward.
To keep your site organized, create a site map. This could be as simple as an Excel grid or a document with a flow chart. This shows how the site is organized and is especially helpful if you’re working with a web developer – the more straightforward, the better. Use your site map to determine how pages will be organized together – main pages, sub-navigation, etc. – and this will guide your content development.
Yes, just like almost everything else in PR, writing is involved. Once you’ve decided what the pages on the site will be and how they’re grouped together, you can start writing content for each of the pages. Remember to include as many details as possible, but in a way that readers will understand and without making the pages too copy-heavy – show, don’t tell. Think about yourself as a reader – what would you want to see if you were visiting this web page? Anything that could give the reader more information or make them more likely to engage with your company should be included.
This is the most important component of the entire process. Communication with the client, your team and, if applicable, your web developer, is what makes everything possible. By keeping everyone in the loop regarding deadlines, content and everything in between, the process will be much smoother and (hopefully) everyone will end up happy.
Because websites are such an integral part of an organization’s brand, developing them is no small task. Using these tips will help you conquer your next website project and deliver something great to your clients!