As your businesses or political organization continues to use the digital frontier to target and reach your consumers, it is critical to focus on easy steps to maximize the effectiveness of your online footprint. In this article we will specifically discuss 5 steps that will take your next website project from mediocre to great.

The Platform

The first step in building a great site is to leverage other people’s code. While there are a number of different ways to do this, you can start with using a content management system (CMS) like WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal…But, the team here at surgeRED swears by the versatility of WordPress themes.

WordPress is THE most used platform on which websites are built. To give a little perspective, WordPress is used more than four times as often as the next most popular CMS, which is Joomla. This gives a great incentive for top-notch developers to write code for WordPress.

With WordPress, themes, plug-ins, and good documentation and technical support for writing are just a few of the advantages you will be able to enjoy. It will also be cheaper and easier to find specialized support for custom projects in WordPress due large and competitive market.

Cost vs. Quality

We touched on the fact that there are a large amount of high-quality WordPress plug-ins, themes, and more, but not all of this code is free. The fact is that it is often worthwhile to fork out some cash for added functionality.

This rings true even outside the CMS world were you will need to purchase domain names, web hosting, and even hiring your developer. When you purchase a cheap server you are investing in a slow website, and a cheap web developer is going to require longer timelines to provide you with a lower quality, and less functional site.

To find the right notch on your Cost vs. Quality scale, you should focus on getting no less than 3 quotes for any web project. You can also look for companies who will include hosting and maintenance in a package along with your site development.

Click here now to request a quote from our team.

Site-Specific Plug-ins

A standard WordPress site is rarely launch-ready out of the box. Most standard quality sites will require customization. In the form of added design or functionality, customization will improve user experience and performance over the life of your website.

Whether the changes are CSS, Javascript, PHP, or something else, it is smart to add these tweaks to a site-specific plug-in, rather than adding them to the existing theme or to particular pages. The reason for this is that you are probably going to need to update your theme and plug-ins over time. As soon as you make these updates it will remove any of the changes you made because those files will be overwritten in the update. However, site-specific plug-ins avoid this issue completely.

For more tips on maximizing the efficiency of your site-specific plug-in, reach out to our development team.

Speed and Security

Websites come in all shapes and sizes, but some things are held in common by all of them: A slow site is a bad site, and an insecure site can be even worse.

Speed and security are also related. A fast website can defend better against some hacking attacks as the server won’t be as easily overloaded. Of course, a hacked website can also be significantly slower, or fail altogether, depending on what sort of changes were made.

Speed and security can be boosted by utilizing fast and secure code, choosing Linux for the server operating system, using a caching system, optimizing images, using a security system, and adopting a minimalist approach to web development. With a minimalist approach to web development we use large files such as video and custom scripting sparingly.

It’s critical not to cut cost when purchasing server resources. It is often a great way to speed up a site, and your relationship with your hosting company can play a huge role is correcting security issue.

Think Outside the Website

The last problem with the way websites are traditionally designed is that the web developer is far too concerned with the website. The thing is, the best website in the world will receive no traffic and produce no benefit if no one knows it exists.

Social media, targeted ad placement, and an overall thriving ecosystem must be built around a website for real success. The website content needs to be useful in a way that motivates people outside to come to the website.

In politics we have the tendency to build websites with a short life-cycle. Sometimes this is appropriate. Sometimes it isn’t. For a sustainable website that is going to be around for a while there needs to be some mechanism to drive revenue toward continued optimization.

One great way to do this is to ensure that the site itself is generating some sort of quantifiable benefit. It could be something direct like accepting donations or a having a store right there on the website, or something less direct such as making sure you have an email newsletter sign-up and social media integration so that you can generate a buzz around your brand which might lead to sales down the road.

On that note, be sure to sign up for our newsletter! In exchange for you helping generate a buzz around our brand, we will be sure to continue to provide you the most up-to-date, actionable information you can find.

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