You may well have been trying to build your website for a while now. Your mind is crammed with ideas and concepts and you know you have a fantastic product or service that you want to showcase.
However, every time you get slightly close to putting those ideas into action, you hit a brick wall and you’re right back to square one with a giant question mark staring you in the face. I am going to break it all down, reduce the whelm and help you turn your ideas into a reality.
In this post, I’m sharing 10 elements to have in place before you start building your website to ensure it’s as painless as possible (and that it’s worth the time and money investment you’ll need to get it launched).
1. Domain name
Navigating the world of domain names can be unnerving if you aren’t entirely sure how to get one or even where to start. With a myriad of companies out there offering their services, it is easy to feel engulfed and you may end up selecting one that you are not entirely happy with.
It’s crucial to give it as much thought as you can when choosing a domain name. Yes, you can change it later but if you obtain the right one to start with it will be a lot easier moving forward; especially if your domain is linked on social media and your email setup, or you have gone as far as to have business cards and stationery produced.
Firstly, keep it as short and concise as possible. It needs to be memorable, easy to read, easy to say and easy to hear…. Yes, that’s right – easy to hear; will it pass the radio test? Imagine hearing an advertisement on the radio, or you’re speaking on a podcast, and they broadcast your domain name. Will your audience remember it? If it is long and complicated, chances are it’s not going to be memorable. Try to avoid using numerals, abbreviations, and dashes. Another important point to consider is your extension. If you can – try to secure .com as this speaks to a global audience.
Exceptions to this rule are if you are locally based or only reside in one country then you can opt for .co.uk or .de or .fr, depending on your location.
If you are opting for a .com extension it may well be worth purchasing the extension .co.uk as well. You can then point your site traffic to the primary site. Owning both extensions will mean you fully own the business name and you avoid the risk of others purchasing your name with a different extension. Check your domain does not have a common word that is easily misspelled, or when read opens it up to other connotations. Unless of course, that’s your intention.
So I know that it can be hard to understand what hosting is? Here’s an analogy that I like to use. Imagine the street where you live; your house is situated on your street; your street hosts your house, and therefore you own a small plot on that street.
When it comes to hosting your website, think of it in the same way. You are going to be purchasing a plot of space on the internet.
Depending on the platform you use to build your site; you may well have hosting built into the price so always check first.
You are also going to want to check how robust your hosting provider is. You want a reliable and stable host (you do not want your house to fall down).
So, before you sign up, do your due diligence and read the reviews. Does the hosting site keep an eye on performance? Because performance is going to determine your site speed which is crucial to securing and keeping your audience on your site. If your site is not loaded within 3-5 seconds, you will lose half your website visitors. We are an impatience bunch aren’t we?
Ensure your host has the right tools in place to optimise your site, do they have a caching system, do they review their site, do they have back-ups in place in the case of server crashes because unfortunately, it does happen sometimes, even for the biggest websites.
I fully appreciate that navigating your way around hosting and site set up may appear intimidating so if you are thinking “I can’t possibly do this” fear not – we can take care of the technical stuff for you.
We provide website hosting for free, as part of our website management service packages, on a fully managed private server, handling your security and content backups, to name a few things. This gives you peace of mind that everything is taken care of in the background, giving you the time to build your business and focus on your clients. It starts from as little as £39 a month (just over £1 a day) – find out more here.
3. Choice of platform
What kind of website do you want to create? A personal website might have a cleaner, simpler design, while an online store requires a different set of strategies and resources. Ultimately a site platform is going to be a very personal preference.
If you’re looking for a platform that is simple to use with a powerful content management system, that will scale with you as your business grows, then WordPress is your best option. However, if you’re a small business and looking for a low maintenance design and don’t mind that it may not be as flexible without needing custom coding and development, then Squarespace may well be your better choice. We’ve actually got a post on this topic that goes more in-depth into reviewing WordPress and Squarespace, read it here.
WordPress is our platform of choice and if you’d like to chat about our different website packages, make sure you book a free discovery call with me today.
4. Logo and branding
It is unlikely that you have ever seen a big brand business without a logo. A logo has a major impact on how your customers will perceive your brand so naturally you want a logo that is going to be outstanding. It defines your brand identity and you need to choose something that delivers your vision. However, do not get too bogged down with spending so much time on your logo that you lose sight of building your own business.
Logos will inevitably evolve and change with you and your business, so have an idea in place and let it naturally evolve with you. Nonetheless, the points to remember are: does it portray my business and the nature of my business and does it speak to my audience?
If funds permit; you may want to look into sourcing the help of a Brand Designer who will work with you to create a full brand identity. Alternatively using a site such as Canva will offer up hundreds of logo templates that can give inspiration and will let your creativeness flourish naturally. Templates in Canva can also be tweaked to align with your brand and brand colours. If you are visual and creative a mood board can be a fantastic way to help you find inspiration for the colours and branding of your site and logo.
5. Fonts and colours
There is an entire host of psychology behind colours as they depict both our emotions and our mood. The colours need to speak to your audience, for instance a children’s brand may use bright colours and artistic fonts, whilst a brand whose sole focus is to speak to rock band enthusiasts may opt for shades of black or charcoal grey.
Try to choose a maximum of two or three colours that really compliment each other and that align themselves with your vision and how you want your brand to be portrayed.
As well as the use of colour in your branding; the choices we make for our font is just as important. The choice of typography brings everything together, from our website content, email templates and logos and by choosing two simple designs and maintaining them across all platforms will help to create a sense of consistency. Ensure your fonts are simple and easy to read across all devices as what looks great on a desktop may not flow so easily on a mobile device.
6. Brand photography or stock photos
Great branded pictures and imagery is a must when it comes to website design, and this is especially important if you’re a service provider or consultant. It’s important to build a brand that can be trusted and your customers are going to want to see you, they will want to get to know you and who you are. Invest in good brand photography as the entire user experience will be diminished if you’re not displaying the best images and photos.
Ensure any stock photos that are used are high resolution. There are a range of sites offering stock photos, either as paid subscriptions such as Shutterstock or Social Squares or free sites such as Unsplash, Pexels and even Canva.
7. Great content and working with a copywriter
Care and attention and the ability to produce great content will convert your visitor into a paying client.
Your content needs to be relatable so consider the language that you’re using. Are you offering them a solution to a problem, what are their pain points and are you connecting with them and conveying your unique selling point? Once you’ve produced your content; read it back to yourself, does it make sense? If you can, read it to others, your family, your partner and anyone that will listen and who will offer honest feedback.
It’s also important to continually review your content and revise to ensure its relevant and still current.
You may well have the best designed website but unfortunately your site traffic may suffer if your content doesn’t flow and is riddled with mistakes and grammatical errors. If this is something you honestly feel you may struggle with, it may be worth investing in the use of a CopyWriter, someone whose profession is to write content for sites.
8. Email service provider and a plan to capture leads
How do you nurture your audience and turn them from a passing visitor into a paying client?
The most effective way is through engagement and email mailing lists. When planning your site, you need somewhere to capture your audience, to hook them in and get them to know you by increasing their trust of you and your mission.
It’s a little like dating – we’re trying to attract the right customer.
You’re getting to know them, letting them get to know you and then making them fall head over heels in love with you and your brand. Try not to hit them with a hard sell straight away. It needs to be a slow and nurturing journey.
Offering up a freebie, or lead magnet as you may have heard it called, is a great way for you to draw them what you’re doing is essentially offering them something free in exchange for their email address.
Now that you’ve hooked them, how do you keep them? By setting up automations and a flow of emails to follow the initial freebie. Try to cater the follow up emails to align with the original freebie.
9. Why use Google analytics
Web analytics is important when growing your business as it will provide you with the correct visitor data and help you to identify their behaviour once they’re on your site. Analytics will help you to modify and shape the success of your business whether you have a site that is predominantly information based or you have an online store, either way it’ll help you to understand the behaviour of your visitor to enable you to deliver better results.
Ensure you keep track of your audience, where they are coming from, what pages on your site are they visiting and how long on average do they spend on each page. This helps you work out what marketing channels you need to pay attention to.
10. BONUS: Useful integrations that’ll save you a ton of time.
Are you still going back and forth with clients over email to schedule a meeting?
“Are you free on Tuesday?”
“No, what about Wednesday?”
“Ok sure, shall we do 9pm?”
“No I can’t, but I can do 7:30pm for 45mins”
“ Do you mean PST or GMT?”
There’s a much better way to do this, that will also save you time. Have you heard of Acuity? This can be a real game-changer when it comes to setting your availability for different appointment types and essentially is going to afford you a greater level of control over managing your day. Acuity allows clients to make their own appointments online and you can even ask them to fill out a form at the point of booking, which gives you everything you need to know about them before you’ve even met them.
Are you still feeling overwhelmed? Would you like to chat about our different website packages? Book a free discovery call with me and let’s get you a business website that helps turn your ideas into reality.
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