I can make you a website. I can make it look pretty, make it functional, and make the user experience lovely and effective. And I want to make you a website.
For some, the idea of creating a website is overwhelming. And listen, I get it. I feel that way about accounting and baking bread. I find that it’s helpful to focus on the things I can do well (like gathering receipts or ingredients). Seriously – HOW do you know when you’re done kneading? I’ll never know.
Before designing a website, it’s crucial to follow a strict web design process that includes thorough planning, defining goals, researching target audiences, and creating a well-structured sitemap. These steps lay the foundation for a successful web design project and ensure the end result aligns with your objectives and resonates with your audience.
So, let’s talk about what you can do before we start the design part that will make the whole experience a lot less stressful – and fun!
- Decide on the goal of the website. What are you trying to accomplish? Do you have a product to sell? Do you run a non-profit that needs an Internet home? Do you have a retail shop or restaurant where you want to advertise sales and specials? Know what you want to do. For most people, this is the easiest step.
- Know your ideal client. Think about your most enjoyable customer experience. WHY was it so lovely? Build a profile (and get specific!): Who is he (or she)? What is their age range? Are they single or partnered? Do they have children? Are they stay-at-home parents, or do they work outside of the home? What is their income range? How do they spend their spare time? How much time do they spend online? Is their time online mostly on a desktop computer or laptop – or are they mainly online from mobile devices? And most importantly – do they need the product or service you are selling? Keep your ideal client in mind when you’re writing your copy (step #5).
- Determine the voice of your brand. You’ve built your ideal client profile: male, mid-thirties, single parent, annual income of $45,000 – $65,00, likes to run marathons in his spare time – and mostly visits the web from his mobile phone. What does a conversation with him sound like? Don’t know? Take Abby Kerr’s free Discover Your Voice Values self-assessment.
- Know special offers you want to highlight and pages and hierarchy of your site. What do you want visitors to do upon landing on your site? Do you want them to sign up for your newsletter? Do you want them to purchase a program or course? Do you want them to download an e-book? Let me know what you want a new visitor to do. We’ll want to talk about navigation; be sure you know what content you want to make available and how you want visitors to reach it.
- Write your copy or hire a copywriter. This can be the part that proves to be the most challenging, and it doesn’t have to be. If you are not a good writer and you have it in your budget, save yourself a lot of time and frustration – hire a copywriter. If you don’t have the budget for hiring a copywriter, take an e-course or two. I have a list of resources for both of these that I’m happy to share! If you are a good writer and confident you can get your message across (keeping in mind steps #1, #2, and #3) – give your project the time and respect it deserves, and block out a day or two for writing your copy. I can build you a beautiful website, but if the content isn’t clear and doesn’t speak to the ideal person in a consistent voice, you may not be reaching people who need your product or service.
- Consider any particular functionality. You know who you’re talking to, what you want to accomplish, you’ve got the navigation figured out, you’ve got the copywriting done or in process. At this point, you probably know in what ways you want to serve your community. Let’s talk about how we’ll accomplish that. Will you want to include quizzes, forms, downloadable files, shopping cart? Once we’ve got that down, proceed to step #7
- Assemble any images, graphics, audio, and video you want to include. And the more efficient we are with that stuff, the more time and energy there is for the fun bits! It’s just more efficient to spend 30 minutes gathering the necessary assets and sending them to me than for me to send you multiple messages asking for logos, headshots, videos, etc.
- Fill out my style survey – determine design direction, keeping the goal (#1), audience (#2), and voice (#3) in mind. This is the last step before we dive into design! We both have an obvious idea of who your ideal client is, what you want to say, and what you want your visitors to experience upon landing on your site. Let’s determine a cohesive look and feel that represents that experience.
Where are you in the process? Whether you’re on Step 1 or 8, I’d be happy to connect and see how I could help.
If the budget doesn’t allow for hiring a web designer (yet! you’ll get there!) and embarking on your first WordPress project, you may be interested in my WordPress in 60 consults. An hour of my time, where we talk about the need-to-knows of WordPress, is a great way to get the foundation you need to start.
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On Branding, Weddings, and Authenticity WordPress web designers – this one’s for you