Launching a New Website? Check Out These Designer Tips
Launching a new website? Well, let's start with a toast to you! CHEERS!
And now that we have a little bubbly in our systems, let's make sure you're setting yourself up for success. After all, when it comes to web design, time and money can fly out of the door if you aren't careful.
Building a website is hard work. It takes ambition, a ton of data and research, and some know-how. But once you set it up the right way, your website will pull it's weight for you so while you're busy doing all the things for your business like creating your products or services, curating your social feed and working with your dream clients, your website will be working for you.
But I have no idea what I'm doing...
Well you're in luck... because this is where I come in. You may be struggling with what to say and how to get those visitors from landing on your website to SOLD... but before you start a freak out session here, let's take a breath and figure this out together.
And who are you to be giving me advice...
I'm Kelly! I'm a brand strategist and web designer who helps small businesses build the brand strategies and websites that dreams are made of.
Pretty websites and clever branding just don't open wallets these days. You need branding and a website with beauty AND BRAINS.
With more than 20 years of design experience under my belt, my passion is helping small businesses build their businesses on a solid foundation of thoughtful branding and intuitive websites that captivate, connect and convert.
So, let's build you a website that the internet can't stop talking about.
Here are 5 questions to consider when building a website:
1. What are you selling and who are you selling it to?
Seems simple enough, right? Uh... no.
Before you start building a website, you need to SERIOUSLY understand your brand at it's core starting with these questions:
Who are you?
What do you do?
Who do you do it for?
What makes you different from the competition?
Think branding... but REAL branding. Not a logo or a nice color palette. We're talking your brand personality, mission and vision, brand voice, what products or services do you sell and who are they for, your competitive advantage, and yes, your brand visuals like your colors, logos, imagery, etc.
As of January, 2021, there are over 1,197,982,359 websites around the world. Compare that the year 2000 when there were 17,087,182 websites. That's almost 100 times less than where we are today.
In a never-ending, exponentially growing sea of websites, if you don't know who you are, who you're for and what makes you different, you'll be going no where... FAST.
Call me a branding nerd, but I am a huge advocate for psychology-driven branding. Think Brand Archetypes and Meyers-Briggs Personality here. Brands function like living-breathing beings, so shouldn't your brand have a clear and defined personality with characteristics and traits that are relatable, likeable and trustworthy? The answer is yes, my friends.
The biggest and most prominent brands out today have some serious brand personality which was found through identifying their archetype and staying laser-focused on that personality. Once you have identified your brand personality, you need to start laying out your brand mission and vision, your brand voice, your ideal customers and identifying your competitive advantage, and then you can go to the visuals.
Want to get started understanding the WHY of your brand? Snag a copy of my FREE copy of the Brand Substance Guide here.
2. What platform is right for you?
Ah... the age-old question: "What website platform is right for me?" Ok, so I've got to be real here... this question is a bit more personal and will look different for everyone depending on how comfortable you are with technology, how custom you want your site and how much you want to put into developing and maintaining your website. Some key areas to consider are:
How much money do you want to invest in building a website?
How much knowledge will each platform require to build and maintain a website?
Do you want to hire a professional to build your website?
If I choose to hire a designer, will I be able to maintain what they build on my own?
Do you have the time to maintain a website?
Which platform has the most flexibility & customization options?
Which platform offers an ecommerce option that has an SSL certificate?
Which platform can work seamlessly with social media to give my customers a better experience?
Which platform can work with email marketing?
Which platform can offer the option of blogging?
Do I need to know how to code?
Which platforms offer templated designs vs. custom design?
3. Do you understand the basics?
Before we start designing your website, we need to understand some web design basics. Tips on how to craft the perfect-looking website are a dime a dozen these days, but one thing all good web designers can agree upon is that understanding the basics of a website and how to optimize it is an often overlooked and undervalued, key factor to a good website. Once you understand the basics, your website will work for you 24 hours a day.
Probably the most unsexy part of web design is the basic, behind the scenes stuff no one sees. But guess who (or what) sees that stuff... search engines. And those search engines are like the gate-keepers. Give them what they want in the form of good keywords, good user-experience and quick site speed, and they'll open up a flood gate of organic traffic for you. Ignore them, and they'll not only ignore you, but they could potentially black-list you.
This past May, Google announced a huge algorithm update that will effect how websites rank in their search engine. Some of the latest updates included a factor called Page Experience which includes all the aspects of how a person interacts with your website. From being mobile-friendly to the page-loading speed, how long they stay on each page of the site to the visual experience they have with your site, you need to pay attention to this update and make sure you're checking off all the boxes.
Often times, when working with clients, they are so focused on the visuals of the website and how it's going to look that I have to reel them back in and do some basics first, then we can get to the pretty-stuff. I say it all the time, but pretty websites aren't opening wallets these days. We need websites with beauty AND brains. I like to start with a good-ole' google doc before I consider opening a web builder. I map out a website from the keywords to the layout, to the experience of website and website words, and everything in between, then I start to design it.
Some things to consider BEFORE design your website:
Keyword research & SEO: Keywords are the driving force behind search engines, Google being the largest of them all. Research industry-specific keywords and phrases that have decent search volume (think 250-5,000 searches per month) to sprinkle through your websites copy and each page's individual description to start ranking higher in google search.
Site Speed: How fast or slow your website loads has a huge influence on how a user interacts with your website. Run a site speed test through a tool like Web Page Test or Uber Suggest to get insights on how fast your website is loading and areas where you can improve.
User-experience: Before you start physically working on your website or building in web-building tool, consider drawing out a map of your website. How will it work? How will each page link to the next page? Where do you want your visitors to go and how are you going to get them there? The point of your website is take your visitors on a journey from point a to point z with purchasing your product or service the end result. Focus on how this experience will look for them and map it out along the way.
Google Analytics: Link a Google Analytics account to your website to see useful data and understand your audience better, how you are acquiring said audience and the behavior patterns of your audience. This data helps you to see areas that you are totally killing it and areas that you need to improve or remove.
4. Do you know what you need to include?
This looks a little different for every business and every website, but there are some basic items your website should include if you want to keep people engaged.
Homepage: Your home page is the first, and probably the most important page of your website. When someone lands on your website, you have a matter of seconds to grab their attention and get them engaged and scrolling before they are clicking that "X" button. Think of your homepage as an airport terminal: it's not the final destination but more like a series of funnels to take a visitor from coming through our doors to their final destination. Make sure your home page is engaging and has the following:
A captivating headline that clearly explains what you do and who you do it for.
What products or services you provide
Who you are
A way to contact you
Clear calls-to-action or next steps
A crystal clear header navigation bar
Links to your social media
Social proof or testimonials
An email opt-in
Product or Services Page: The most profitable part of your website, your shop or services page should be organized and easy to understand. Much like the homepage, these pages will convey very specific perceptions. Organized, easy-to-understand and eye-catching pages should tell a story: they should nip at that problem your customer is having or be that must-have thing they are pining for, explain the benefits of your product or service and exactly what they get if they click "purchase." From crystal clear product descriptions to shipping rates, delivery time and sales tax, take your time and make sure you leave no question unanswered.
The About Page: Have you ever heard that your about page isn't about you? Well, it kinda is... it's about you and how you and your brand fit in to your ideal customers life. Most small businesses don't realize that their about page is one of the most landed-on pages on their website. Before most people will want to work with or buy from you, they will want to know you. Who are you and what makes you better, more knowledgeable or a better fit to help me with XYZ? Make sure you include a photo of yourself, your credentials or track record, who your business is for, what it's like to work with you, vital information about your or your business they should know and identify clear next steps or calls to action you want them to take.
The Checkout Page: The experience your customers have with your shop goes from the first time they see your image, logo or product all the way through the checkout process. Often times I see beautiful websites with amazing products, captivating about pages and energetic blog posts, but they neglect to pay attention to one of the most valuable pages on their website, the checkout. Make sure you are giving them the best possible experience from start to finish and including an easy checkout process, clear shipping, tax and any other associated fees, and last but not least, include an order confirmation and shipping confirmation email to keep them in the know on what to expect.
5. Are you leveraging your website to work for your business?
You have your website optimized and ready to go... now what? Your website shouldn't be a set it and forget it thing.
You should be continually adding to it through adding new products or services, updating photos, images and information and adding a blog or a stream of articles that compliment your brand. And the biggest key to leveraging your website... EMAIL MARKETING! Before you even start building your website you should have a landing page that your driving traffic to to sign up for a free offer or discount code when your website launches. From there, they should be taken through a series of emails welcoming them to your brand, your business, who you help, how you help and what services and products you offer. Regular email should be sent out at least 2x a month with tips and tricks, updating them on what's going in your business and showcasing new products or services, recent clients or testimonials and more. Leveraging your website with a stream of automations and regular emails will work like your virtual sales agent 24/7.
So, forget the frustration and overwhelm. Grab a FREE copy of my Website Planning Guide to help you strategically plan out your website like a pro. SNAG A COPY HERE >>
Partner this that with this checklist to make sure your website is optimized and working for you, not against you.
So grateful and glad you're here!
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord, not for man." - Colossians 3:23