Looking to hire a web designer or don't know where to start when designing your website? Keep reading to be in the know for five things that will help you start your website project.
I remember when we bought our first fixer-upper house. I was handy, and crafty, and savvy, but I was so out of my league on some things. There was no plan, no strategy, and no timeline. Big mistake. This was way before HGTV and other fixer-upper shows were popular so the hubs and I winged it.
That strategy cost us extra money but more importantly lots of extra time since we had to make changes to changes to the original change. Same goes for your website. Like a house, there are things that need to happen first so that you don't have to tear it down and start over again.
The idea of having a website designed to be a friendly, informative user experience is to set it up correctly from the get-go so that you can continue to enhance and not keep reinventing the wheel.
Ready to get started? I'll share with you my favorite tips and steps that make up my Roadmap Strategy for designing a client engaging, effective website.
1. START WITH THE FOUNDATION
Before you begin planning your website you need to know the who, what and why of your perfect client. Your website is not about you, it's about them. You should know exactly who you will serve, what offers will address their needs and what message you will put out there to start the conversation.
You might not have this figured out just yet or maybe your smack in the middle of a rebrand and still working out the kinks and that's just fine and dandy. If that's the case, stop right here because you're not ready for a web designer yet. Instead, I recommend putting up a landing page to have a presence because once you become clear everything will change.
2. ADD IN A MARKETING STRATEGY
Website design consists of at least 50% planning because you need to know everything about your clients, their journey, how they fit into your journey and how you will attract them. Many people think build it and they will come, but why throw spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks when you are talking about your single most important marketing asset?
Your website is the base for your business to convert leads into clients and sales and before you can do that you need to attract that person to your website. There's a lot of ways to generate traffic and attract new visitors but you can't do that without a marketing strategy. A few things you need to take into account is your lead capture process, your content strategy and how you'll promote your business. If you're not sure where to start you can schedule a website audit today.
3. DON'T OVERLOOK YOUR COPY
There is no website development without website copy because they go hand in hand like PB&J. Website design is there to add pretty to your message, grab the attention of the visitor and compliment your written words. The copy (aka words) is what makes the reader connect and lead to the sell.
Your copy will determine if someone will buy what you are selling, it's that important. Writing for the web is different than writing an essay or book. And it's easier to write for others than it is to write for yourself. Telling your story is key and using the right words is essential. If you're challenged about writing for yourself then it would be better to hire a copywriter or at the very least learn some good tips for writing your web content. Whatever route you take you need to have some copy nailed before development can begin.
4. STRATEGICALLY SELECT YOUR IMAGES
There are two types of images you need on your website: images to enhance your message and images to build trust. Enhancement images are those that add visual interest to your messages like stock photography or illustrations. Trust images are headshots, lifestyle shots and other photography that show the real you.
When using stock images make sure you have the right to use them. Don't jack images from Google and plop them into your copy. There are plenty of free stock sites that allow you to use images without attribution and there are even more where you can purchase a license for use. Using other's images without permission is a costly mistake many people make. To be a little different you can crop, edit and brand your images so they look different from the others who use the same photo.
Professional headshots and photography have become affordable especially with digital cameras and media delivery. Please don't use selfies and think that is going to help build trust even if are a personal brand, get a good round of headshots. A professional photography can make your best self-shine with their knowledge of lighting and positioning. Some photographers offer make-up and hair styling too but be sure that they enhance your look and not completely change it.
5. ALWAYS INCLUDE THE LEGAL STUFF
Every website needs the legal basics to keep you covered while telling visitors how they can use your site and how you protect their privacy. These pages are often overlooked because you might not think they apply to you. Remember all the GPDR notifications when the new guidelines were implemented in May of 2018? That applies to you too if you are an online business.
Plain and simple, it's good business practice to have the necessary pages. There are some good templates and resources available that while generic are great starter options but you may want to check with a legal professional to have a policy tailored to your online business.
Some other legal pages you'll need are disclaimers, including affiliate disclosure because you are making money from selling other's offers. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has provided the “Endorsement Guide” document that addresses a number of social media advertising and marketing best practices and requirements, including the requirement that there must be disclaimer made available when affiliate links are used on a website.
By following these five tips you will be well on your way to hiring a designer that has your best business interest in mind or have a good foundation if you are taking on the project yourself. Remeber though you need to factor in a realistic budget for your project.
Your website is an investment and it should be treated like any other essential business expense. When hiring a web designer be cautious if someone quotes you a lower price that is generally below the norm. Prices are subjective so it's important that you truly understand what you are getting for the cost. At the very least, part of the process should include the tips above.
There is no such things as good, fast and cheap. And I'd use caution when your designer touts fast and cheap. For your budget, you'll want something that looks appealing but more importantly, you'll want functional and user-friendly.
Have other website questions?
Schedule your complimentary website audit where we put the fun back in the web design process while giving you down to earth actionable website tips.