Many don’t know that if your website is going to make a compelling first impression and capture the hearts, minds, stomachs, and everything else, it can’t just exist – it needs to be done right. Naturally, doing it right, the first time, isn’t always easy. If you hope to push the boundaries with your website, you’ll need to make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons – and that you’re taking the right approach.

Before you even think about embarking on your next website project, you’ll want to follow these four key steps.

Do: Set a clear objective

A website that doesn’t have a clear business objective is a website that should never have been made. Your website should be designed to add value to the company as well as your users in some way or another – and to do that, you need to set a specific, defined objective. Want your target audience to fill out a contact form? Invest in your business? Buy a bunch of things? Pledge unquestioning trust and devotion?

Whatever it is, figure it out before you get working on your RFP. A website that doesn’t have a purpose is nothing more than a vanity project.

Don’t: Rely on everyone’s opinion

Lower rank employees tend to defer to team members with higher status and salary when decisions have to be made. And while the highest paid employee on your team can offer expert insight in a heap of things, it can be troublesome to rely entirely on them, especially when it comes to creative.

So yes, it’s a collaborative process and it’s worth listening to anyone who has constructive feedback. But when one voice becomes dominant, it threatens creative integrity and dilutes the potential of your website.

Don’t: Make decisions by committee

Then there’s the other side of the story: everybody wants to get involved with the nooks and crannies of the project, and nobody wants anything to do with the results.

Again, this isn’t to say that other people’s voices should go unheeded. But when everyone from the sales manager to the HR director to the CEO to the janitorial team are getting involved, you’ve got a problem on your hands, and too many voices in your head. The process invariably becomes less about the message, and more about not offending anyone – and your website becomes the creative equivalent of a cardboard box.

Do: Work with professionals

When you have the resources available to work with a professional web agency who can help you with the elements you’re unfamiliar with, why wouldn’t you? A single, seemingly inconsequential decision can harm your website project irreparably. And if you want to make something that truly stands out, you’ll give it the entire attention it deserves, and put it in the hands of those you can trust.

Producing the right result

It’s important to note that simply following these steps isn’t an assurance of success. A great and successful website depends on a variety of different factors, some of which you’re completely powerless to affect (Hi, Google Ranking Factors).

But if you put the requisite effort into it, if you collaborate productively with a qualified web agency, and if you give the project the attention and resources it needs, you’ve got every chance of creating a boundary-pushing website.