So, you've started a business, have great products or a brilliant service and you're looking to get a website up and running to attract more customers and start growing your business but you're not entirely sure where to start? Well, keep reading...
Many small businesses don't have the budget for a web designer when they're just getting started but there is nothing wrong with DIYing your website to get the ball rolling.
Firstly you want to consider what you want your website to do for you. Is it a portfolio, or do you need a store integrated into your website? Is it simply for marketing or does it need to feature a booking system. Whatever your needs you can generally make it work using a web design platform like Wix, Squarespace or Shopify. Take a look at our other post to figure out which platform is best for you.
The best advice I can give you before starting your website is to get in touch with a brand identity designer and get a quote. Once you have a brand identity in place it will make the whole design process much easier.
Having a strong and consistent brand identity that identifies with your target audience and represents your business accurately is vital for new businesses. amongst other things, it helps make your business look more legitimate which builds trust and familiarity with potential customers. Your brand designer should also provide you with a brand guidelines document. This document will make it really easy to keep your brand consistent across all touch-points from digital to print.
Now we have the top three things to consider out of the way let's get into the nitty gritty.
Layout and navigation
It is really important for all business websites to be easy to navigate and free of clutter. Keep everything clear, ensure you are leaving plenty of *'white space' between images, text, and other assets to make it really easy for the visitor to see everything clearly.
If you have the budget I recommend paying someone to do your copy writing for you for the most effective copy writing however, you can definitely still write effective copy writing yourself.
What constitutes as effective copywriting you ask? Well firstly you want to avoid using too much jargon or words, terms and phrases your audience wont understand. Always keep the working simple so that anyone can skim read and still know what you're talking about without needing to get a dictionary out. You also want to keep text fairly minimal.
Don't bombard your visitor with text as this will only put them off and they'll click out of your site. Make it really easy for them to get the information they need without sifting through lots of text. Simple, to the point messages are key here. We live in a digital world where you can get a lot of information really fast. Nobody wants to feel overwhelmed when they visit a web site and they especially don't want to feel like their time is being wasted.
Lastly, ensure you do some keyword research and use any effective and relevant keywords throughout your website. This will help with your search engine rank.
The images you use on your website are incredibly important. Using irrelevant stock imagery can leave your audience feeling uninspired and frankly a little cautious. Basic stock imagery is often linked to brands that aren't very trustworthy or even legitimate.
Pay for a photographer to take professional photos of your products or if you are a service based business then why not have a photoshoot with your team and work space. Show real client interactions and some behind the scenes. Above all else, ensure you are keeping your brand consistent. Do some research before talking to a photographer, consider how you want to present yourself, the business or your products. Look at what competitors are doing and if you feel really lost then just ask your photographer for some advice.
Store/scheduling or other integrated systems
These design platforms tend to have a whole host of integrated tools at your disposal, you usually have to pay a small feel to use these tools but they are usually really worth it. When using one of these intergrations it is so important to explore every single setting available. Attention to detail is key here, if something is missed when setting up an online store for example it could lead to a bad customer experience which we absolutely do not want. If you are stuck, these platforms often have someone you can contact to support you with setup but if in doubt, just google it. It is super likely that someone else has had the same issue, concern or question you have.
Getting on google
Now we're looking at the technical stuff. Once again, I really would advice hiring someone to do these parts for you but if you do not have the budgets then we have some advice to get you off the starting line. Applying basic SEO to your website isn't as daunting as it seems and design platforms make it even easier by talking you through the things you can do step by step. Look our for the section on your dashboard called SEO or 'GET ON GOOGLE'. You'll also want to keep an eye out for your SSL certificate. Some platforms sort this out for you automatically but if not then a simple google search should point you in the right direction to obtain one. This is simply a certificate linked to your URL that assures any visitors that your website is safe to visit.
Set up a google business page too. This is a really powerful tool and could show up first in search results even if your website doesn't. You clients and customers can leave you reviews here too which is really handy for your google ranking, legitimacy and visibility.
Finally, set yourself up with a blog and post as often, and consistently as you can. There are many benefits to writing a blog even now in the age of social media. Blogs can not only make you money but they also help improve your ranking in google. Keep that in mind when you build your website.
We really hope some of this information is useful for you and your website design journey. When it is possible it really is worth talking to a web designer or developer to start to level up your website and in turn your business but there is absolutely nothing wrong with DIYing it to get you started.
*White space refers to the black space around a design, image or text box that allows the asset to breathe. Take a look at other websites and see how much space they are leaving around their assets.