Yay, you have decided that you want to have a website. Whether the website will be for yourself or for you company, it doesn't matter you still need to sit down and think about the look, the design and the content before you can actually start building it or giving it to someone else to build it for you.
So what do you need to think about before designing a website?
Name of your website
Before you can start designing you need to know the name of your website, the URL! So www.yourbusiness.com
I am assuming your have the name of your business, but then you need to check if the matching domain is still available. And do you want a .com site or something else?
Then you need to decide on a hosting (web space) provider if you want your website to be programmed. Or do you want to use a service like Wix or Squarespace?
There are so many options out there for hosting but also for designing you really need to do some research before you start.
First and foremost you need to have an idea about the content for your website and then you should write down a so called sitemap.
Many people know they need a website and just start designing one and then realize they don't know how many pages and which pages they need. And they haven't written any text yet, don't know where they want pictures and how many.
But knowing all this is so important BEFORE actually start to design the website.
Think about it like building a house. Before you can start building you need to know how many rooms you want, how many bathrooms, where the kitchen will be, where you are going to have windows and power connections etc etc. Building a website is similar. You can not just start, you need to have an end product in mind.
Therefore please write your own sitemap!
A sitemap is a list of all the pages and subpages you want to have. I would recommend making an overview on a piece of pager or in excel with all the main pages and subpages and may be even jot down a few bullet points about the content of each page.
Then you need to decide where you want those sites to be found and what kind of menu you would like.
Will all the pages be in the main menu at the top of your website?
Will the menu have subcategories with a drop down menu?
Sometimes there are two spaces, the main menu and a second menu in the top corner which links only to your contact page for example.
Are there any pages you want to be accessible from the footer?
Would you also like to have a menu on the side?
Also will you need a search function?
From there you need to decide the journey a visitor will take on your website. Where will they go from your homepage? Where DO YOU want them to go next? What will their questions be and how will you be able to answer them?
These are all important questions you need to ask yourself.
It is also good to write the content before designing a website. Like that you can easily see how much text is going on each page and design accordingly.
So just write down all the text for each page in a word document. It does not need to look fancy or have the correct font or anything. All the formatting can be done later when filling your website.
Just make sure you know which text will be bold.
You will probably need a contact page. Here you need to think about wether you want a contact form and if so what would you like to ask your visitors in the form? Or you might just want to show your name and address and link you email address.
Do you want to show your location on a map? What type of map? Do you need directions to your business?
Do you want to link your social media platforms to the website?
Where do you want to have them linked from? From the top of your page? Or the bottom? Do you want to show the likes and last few posts of Facebook or Twitter? Do you want to show your Instagram pictures?
Have a look what other people are doing to see what can be done and then think about what you would like to show.
Do you want to have a blog for your website? What should the blog look like? Will the most recent blog posts be linked to your home page? Do you just want to show some pictures and the heading or do you also want to show excerpt (a short extract from the text)?
Would you like to have an option for your visitors to sign up for a newsletter? Where do you want to show that? And what information do they need to provide before signing up? Do you already use a newsletter platform like mail chimp that needs to be integrated?
Decide on which pages you want to have pictures and what they will show. Then go and look for all of them. Pictures are so important for a website and can change the look completely. So before having all the text finished, it is even more important to have all pictures ready before you start designing.
I always ask my clients to send me all the pictures they want to include in jpeg format named after the pages they want them to be on. At least for a starting point you need a picture in high resolution. Then you are more flexible and can crop or edit them etc.
For the website you shouldn't upload a file that is too big but you want to make sure the resolution is high enough so it doesn't show the pixels.
Having great branding is so important for small and large businesses alike. When a business is consistent with their branding it is much better memorable and recognizable.
I will write about this in a different blog post but when you think about having a website it is so important to have good branding as well. The website will look more professional with a well designed logo, colors, fonts and pattern that matches the rest of your marketing material.
When I start designing a website I actually start by uploading the logo, adding the brand colors and fonts so I can visualize the look of the brand immediately.
Think about where you want to show the logo. In the center of the website or on the left hand side?
When using a program like Wordpress or Squarespace it is very important to know that before hand because some themes only allow one place for the logo to be.
This is actually part of branding. But if you only have a logo for your business think about a color palette before you design the website. Like that designing is a lot easier. You don't need to think about each the color for the header, the footer, fonts, headings, etc. And you can easily stay consistent and be more effective.
Keep the overall look in mind. Keep consistency with the colors and style of your pictures and the colors. But also the fonts. Make sure they all match and go in the same direction and will reach your target customer much better.
And last but not least - Less is More!
You probably have so many ideas and so much to share and it is very tempting to use it all and put as much information and as many pictures on your website as possible but keep it simple! Remember less is more. A visitor only scans a website and needs to find the information they are looking for in a few seconds.
So you have to decide what is really important and which information you will provide on your home page. This might be very difficult but it is super important.
I really hope this will help you what to think about before designing your own website!
And please contact me if you have any questions
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