Even the most talented website designer in the world won’t be able to create your dream website without getting their hands on some ‘raw materials’ first. That means that there are a few things that you’ll need to think about and action before you press go on a website project.
In this blog I’ll take you through the five key elements you will need to supply a website designer so that they can do an amazing job on your new website.
I’ll also give you some of my top tips for when it’s a good idea to create these elements yourself and when it’s better to delegate them to experts. Let’s dive in and get started.
This one might be very easy for some of you, and very hard for other people! If you’ve been told by other people you need to get a website to help your business grow, you might have paid a deposit for a website without really considering what you want it to do. In some cases, it’s really obvious, for example to allow you to sell your products online.
For other businesses, particularly service-based businesses, it might be more about building brand awareness or trust. But I highly recommend spending some time writing down what you want your website to do for your brand as that information will be so helpful as you work down this list. It will dictate the content you include and the pages you have designed, so your website purpose is quite influential.
Branding refers to your business’ logo and colour scheme. If you don’t already have a branding pack for your business, then it’s something I would highly recommend you do before you have a website built. Your branding will have a huge impact on the way the final website looks, from the colours that are used to the fonts that the words are in.
I truly believe that if you are planning to invest in a professional website then having proper branding, including a logo, is essential. I recommend you work with a graphic designer rather than attempting this on your own. They will have a meeting with you to discuss what your business does, who your ideal customers are and your unique selling points, and then create you a logo and branding pack which perfectly suits your business and appeals to your ideal client. I promise, this really does make a huge difference to the way the final website looks.
Following on from branding, there’s another important visual aspect of a website that you need to consider. They say ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’ and it’s true – if you and your website designer nail everything else but use low-res images or stock images, it won’t look as professional as it could.
This is another area where it pays to bring in a professional to take some photographs for you. If you sell products then clear, high-res images of them are essential, if you sell services then it can be a little more tricky – but still very doable! Some high-res images of you and, if you have them, your staff, your premises, past clients and even things related to your area of specialism are all good places to start.
It might help to know that any money you invest in photography won’t be just used on your website – you can also deploy it on social media, printed materials, advertising and press outreach, for example.
4. A website map
This is on the ‘essential’ list, as it’s all about the different pages you would like to have on your website. Thankfully it’s one that you can do yourself with just a little help from an expert. The minimum pages I would recommend for a new website are as follows: a homepage, an about page, a services page OR a shop page, a blog or news page and then a contact page.
Your website designer will be happy to discuss with you the pages you need and the structure which works best for your type of business, as it does vary according to sector. The website map will also indicate which pages link to each other and how, and that helps a designer build the website and help you pop plenty of calls to action into your content. Which leads me onto my fifth and final point.
Content includes the words, images and calls to action on your website. We’ve covered off images, so let’s just focus on words and calls to action. The latter are prompts on a website which tell the user to take a specific action, such as clicking on a button or an embedded link.
They are important for easy navigation around a website and useful for capturing data by asking someone to download an e-book or book a callback.
The words (also known as ‘copy’) on your website are quite self-explanatory! They simply tell visitors to your site what you do, who you do it for and why your business is better than and different to your competition.
The words on your website can be divided into headers, sub headers and body copy, and it’s worth remembering to adhere to a ‘brand voice’ if you have a go at writing it yourself. That means sticking to first or third person throughout, thinking about what your ideal customer would expect to read. Serious or fun? Direct or funny?
If you would rather hand over the reins to a professional to write your copy, you’ll find lots of copywriters out there, and most website designers will be able to signpost you to some that they’ve worked with before.
So, there you have it. Five things to think about before you launch a new website. Some of them, namely images and copy, can be worked on in parallel to the website design project, but purpose, branding and the web page map really need to be addressed first!