Website Planning Guide
Before you dive in to building your website, you need to take some time to plan out what you are going to create. A website without a purpose, or clear function, will not be worth the time you’ll take to create it.
What content might your website need?
Firstly you must decide what you want out of your website.
Will it be...
• An online shop to sell your products directly
• A portfolio for your work
• Somewhere for people to understand your brand and make contact with you
• A blog sharing behind the scenes of running your business
• An information hub for you to direct customers to, containing answers to FAQ’s
Your website can cover a number of these elements, but it should be serving one primary purpose, meaning when visitors land on your page they understand straight away what they are to do.
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Your homepage is where the majority of people will land when they visit your website, so it has to be clear and inviting. Think about the different purposes your website can have, mentioned in the paragraph above, and how you can highlight this aspect.
It should also very quickly convey your ethos/style/brand, which helps both you and the customer.
For you it should cut down on enquiries about things you don’t supply or that are not in your repertoire, and for the customer it will avoid them wasting their (and your) time getting in touch about something you don’t offer.
There should be one sentence or very short paragraph that will instantly convey who you are and what you offer.
Once you've got your homepage set up the rest of the content will depend upon the purpose of your website but some typical pages for are:
Quite obviously this will be the showcase for your products. If I could give you one piece of advice for the gallery it would be that you don't need to display every single thing you've ever made or supplied, especially if you are trying to focus in on one niche. When you are starting up you will be happy to take all types of orders (and this is definitely the best thing to do) until you have honed your skills and identified the area you excel in. Once you've built up a signature collection of images, begin to display just these and you will soon by the expert and go-to person for that style or product.
This will depend on the type of business you are but this will be a great place to have your menu if you are a restaurant or baker, a list of services if you are a beautician or hair stylist, or classes if you’re a fitness instructor. Somewhere to run through everything your business offers.
You may or may not need a separate page for this. Your prices could be displayed on your product list page but in some cases it might be easier to list them separately.
Your about page doesn't need to be your life story but everyone loves to be a bit nosey and a short bio would be perfect here. You can also expand on that tag line/ethos from your home page to give customers are real understanding of your passion and what they can expect when working with your company.
Quite self explanatory really! Think about if you want to have people contact you by phone, by email, or by using a contact form built in to your website.
A blog is a great way to build up your audience and to get potential customers to your website. By always adding new, relevant content on your website you will find your website will appear higher on Google search pages and there will be more chance of people discovering your business. It’s also a great way to create a connection with your customers by giving them a look behind the curtain or sharing with them your expertise.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
If you find you are getting asked the same questions over and over, have all the answers in one place on your website, that way you can direct your customers to this page rather than typing out the same email 50 times.
One final point I want to touch on is the images for your website. Once you start noticing good website design, or websites that catch your eye, you’ll soon realise that the images used are a major part in what makes a website work.
Having well composed, bright, high quality images will make or break your website. A small number of perfect images is infinitely better than a collection of poorly lit snaps from your phone.
It can be done by yourself. There are many, many tips online but my quickfire advice would be:
natural daylight is your friend,
a consistent, plain background on your product images will give a cohesive look,
don’t forget to include yourself! By showing your lovely smiling face you will make your company feel more personable and potential customers or clients will be able to feel as in they know you, therefore are more willing to work with you,
add interest to your product shots through textures or backgrounds, however remember to keep them simple and not to distract from the product,
light editing to brighten pictures can really take them to the next level.
I believe less is more on websites. Keep it simple and offer the information that is the most important to your customers. Don't just fill up your site because you can and be selective with high quality, useful content.
With all of that in mind, you can either start making notes about what you want to speak to your designer about (maybe...me?) OR you can download my very handy website planning guide by clicking the button below!
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