(About 8 minutes to read.)
Don’t just sit back and leave your website completely in the hands of your web designer!
Here’s how to plan your website whether you are building it yourself, or getting a full-custom service. A little planning will ensure your wesite meets your goals, connects emotionally with your end customer, and helps to build your brand.
This is a gigantic list of action steps you can take to make your website more powerful and authentic. Try to start this list before you meet with your web designer in order to get a more successful website — and potentially save time and money on your website development quote!
Don’t worry, these don’t all have to be done at once, and your web designer can likely help you with them! However, the more thought you put into these items, the more your web designer will have to work with.
Consider this a starting point – and jump in wherever you feel inspired.
Planning Your Website Part 1: Content, Color and Style
These are the things you will need to think about in order to make your website strong and on-brand.
1. How to Plan Your Website’s Colors & Styles
What color combinations & styles and company brands are you drawn to? You might look around your home, your wardrobe, or anything you’re drawn to, for inspiration.
If you already have a brand logo and color palette, consider whether it still fits you? You can update your colors regularly, without having to re-do your other marketing collateral. Think of adding a new highlight color, or some additional accents for certain themes.
Create a Vision Board
In web design, we call this a “mood board.” It’s easy to do. First, collect images that inspire you. Then, focus on the ones that have the “feeling” you’d like for your website. You can do this off-line, and just take photos or make a collage of your collection – or you can use Pinterest or a Word Document to collect photos off the Internet. Try to think outside the box — collect images from fashion magazines, artworks, packaging, book covers and everyday life.
For inspiration in planning your website mood board, check out mood boards on Pinterest here: https://www.pinterest.com/explore/mood-boards/ . Just remember, your mood board does not have to look professional — it’s just a visual brainstorm!
For the DIY’er, design tools like Canva.com and PicMonkey.com can help you make a great mood board. If you don’t yet have a logo, it’s important to have one at this stage. Start with a simple stock art graphic, try an online logo maker, or hire a professional logo designer, depending on the level you are at with your business.
2. Plan Your Photos & Images
Quality photos & images are super important in creating an exciting professional website. Plan now to get your photos together! Your web designer cannot do an amazing website without your amazing photos.
If your personality is important in your business (and in most businesses, it definitely is!), I strongly encourage you to get a professional photoshoot.
If you have products in your business, you’ll need product photography. Products that are photographed well will sell better online. Ideally, hire a photographer to help. You can also learn to do it yourself. (Try googling tips for Product Photography DIY.)
If you are doing a professional photoshoot, make sure you plan a few outfits with colors & styles that represent your “brand.” Do the colors in your outfits match the colors in your branding?
Consider getting professional hair and/or makeup for your photos, as they will be a big asset to your marketing.
In addition to your recommended photoshoot, can you assemble any of these types of photos?
- Photos of your Product
- Photos of you working with a client
- Portfolio Photos (photos of your work, if applicable)
- Client Before & After
- Your Before & After Photos (if you’ve made a transformation in your life or business)
- Stock Photos (I’ll share a list of stock photography sites in a future blog post.)
Have you heard the saying, “Content is King?” There are so many reasons why you are going to need great content for your website. It’s not enough just to “leave it to your web designer,” or slap in some generic content.
Your content needs to come from what you know about your business, your clients, your challenges and your goals. If you choose to write your own content, make sure you learn a little about SEO Copywriting strategy, as well as advertising strategy. To make an impact with your content, hire a professional copywriter or writing coach to help. (Check out my content packages here.)
Here are some questions that will need to be answered in your content.
Your Website’s Purpose:
- Who is your ideal client that you want to attract?
- What do you want your brand & website to represent?
- What makes your website, brand or business special?
- Brainstorm a list of the questions people might type into Google, to find out about the services & information you provide.
- Who are you? What is your story?
- What are your biggest accomplishments (related to your business)?
- How do you help your clients?
- Think of who can give you a great testimonial. I will provide you with some copy & paste questions you can use to get testimonials.
- I suggest thinking of anyone you might be able to “Endorse” on LinkedIn. This means leaving a review for that person. Then, you can invite them to leave one for your in return. Not only will these reviews help you on LinkedIn – we can also use them for your website.
Services/ Products Page:
- What does your business do?
- What is your pricing system?
- How can people hire you?
- Do you offer packages? What are the details?
- How will people get in touch with you?
- Do you want any “live” features, such as Instant Online Chat, or a calendar where people can book a consultation with you?
- What is your “elevator pitch” about your business? Who do you help, and what do you help them with?
- What is the main action you want people to do on your site? It might be to Call You, sign up for your email list, or select from one of your packages.
- What are the top ten questions people ask you, related to your business or services?
- What are the things you most want to write about?
Planning Your Website Part Two: Get Organized
Here are some of the technical things you can set up for yourself while you plan your website. Your web designer may be able to help with some of these things.
1. Set Up a Website Planning Folder
Set Up Dropbox (optional)
It’s important to create a space for everything you’ll add to your website. You can do this by setting up a new folder on your computer, but I always recommend setting up Dropbox. Dropbox is just a folder on your computer… but you can connect it so your web designer will also have access to everything in this folder.
For example, you can put all your photos into our shared Dropbox folder – and your web designer will automatically get them too. This is great when photos are too “large” to be sent by email.
Some clients prefer not to use Dropbox, in which case, you can set up a different solution. The important thing is to keep your photos and info organized and easy to access.
To get your own Dropbox:
- Sign up for a free account at Dropbox.com.
- Once your account is set up, download the Desktop version of Dropbox.com. Use this link to do that: https://www.dropbox.com/install
- Click the Big Blue Button that says “Free download”
- When your download is complete, click on the file it downloaded and allow it to install.
- Check the Option to have a Shortcut on your Desktop, so you can easily find the Dropbox.
- If you double-click and open the Dropbox, you will see it is just a set of files.
- Let your web designer know when you have this done, and which email account you used when you signed up for the account. Your web designer can send you an invitation to share a folder with them.
2. Register Your Domain Name
A domain name is the address of a website, without the “http://” at the beginning. For example, my domain name is leapontotheweb.com.
If you currently have your own domain name(s), your web designer will need to know the domain name(s) and your registrar account login info.
(Your registrar is the company where you registered & paid for your domain name.)
If you do not have a domain name yet, you’ll need to find a domain name that’s available.
All our website packages include a domain name — we can help you choose it, and we’ll do the registration for you. (You will be the registered owner, of course!)
How to Pick Your Domain Name
Find a Registrar and Try Out Domain Names
Try out a few domain names to find out if they are available or not. I really like NameCheap (namecheap.com), but you can also use Go Daddy or a number of other companies.
See if your name is available as a domain name — if so, you may want to grab that! Not everyone gets a chance to register their own name anymore!
However, depending on your business plans, you may want something with descriptive words in it. For example, “ultimatehealth.com” or “healthcoach.com.” (These two are probably taken already.) Finding an available domain name sometimes takes a little brainstorming & a lot of trial-and-error.
Remember, keep your domain name fairly short and memorable!
3. Set Up Social Media Accounts
If you currently have social media accounts, make a list of the page names and login information. Your web designer will need the links, and may need to login to your accounts. Only do this if you have high trust in your designer (and a contract!). You can opt to make your web designer an admin or manager on your Facebook Page.
Which Social Media Accounts Should I Set Up for My Business?
If you don’t have business accounts already set up, I recommend setting up at least two.
For most people, the best accounts to start with are a Facebook Page and a Google Plus Page. Facebook is still the largest platform, and Google Plus is important for your Search Engine Ranking Factor (SEO).
Tip! If you’re interested in designing fun photos for your social media accounts or blog posts, grab a free account at the online photo editing site, Canva.com.
Depending on your business and your available time, you might also set up any of: Pinterest, Instagram, SnapChat, LinkedIn Business Page, Twitter. (Pinterest drives a surprising amount of traffic!)
4. Associations, Awards & Logos
If you’re a member of any associations, or if you’ve won awards, make a list of these, and add links to pages where you can get their logos. Or upload their logos to your Website folder (you may have set this up in Step 1).
Better Websites Start with Better Communication
Plan your website content, images and a little tech — and you will find the web design process goes more smoothly, with better results.
This list will help you plan a website that reflects your style, desires and goals. You can bring these items to your web designer to help you discuss what your website will be like.
I hope this helps you plan a powerful website. For more tips on website planning and strategy, be sure to sign up for my email list (below).
If you need help planning your website, don’t hesitate to Get in Touch with me.