you only get one shot to make your first impression – and in 2020, that means having a professional, beautiful website.
did you skip past that image?
If you did, go back and read it! We’ll wait.
web research is the new normal.
Remember the good ol’ days when deals were made face to face and with nothing but a handshake? Well, like it or not, those days are done.
Before you’ll get so much as text, your potential client has likely done more research on you, than you’ve done on yourself. This can be a great thing! If you positioned yourself correctly on the web, you can truly up your conversion – filtering out people who are truly uninterested and avoiding the coldest leads out there.
with great exposure comes great responsibility.
Once it’s on the web, anyone can see it. As a mother of four, trying to raise responsible humans in this digital world, I truly understand what that means. What does this mean for businesses though?
It’s so important to really show up in your website. Something as simple as a dated euphemism can turn a customer off. Your website has to be built with integrity, and have that integrity show up on every page.
building a website yourself.
With all of the drag-and-drop website builders available, pretty much anyone can make a website. If you don’t have the budget to hire a professional, you can still get a beautiful website, and you can build it yourself. Here are a few tips to set you on the right path.
Before you begin, take a moment and set some expectations for your journey here. There are going to be some speed bumps, and there is a lot to learn. But this is so exciting! You’re building yourself a WEBSITE! Settle into the fact that this is a learning experience, but keep in mind that it is totally doable.
keep it simple.
I cannot stress this enough. If you can get away with a one-page site that introduces what you’re selling, a little about you, and how to contact you, that is enough. It is WAY easier to control your look, if you have less to look at.
Editing is your new best friend. You want to write your website copy, then take out as much of it as humanly possible, leaving JUST the message behind.
name your goals.
Decide what you want this website to do for you. Do you want people to call you? Sign up for an email list? Buy something? Fill out a form?
Whatever you want that site to do for you, write it down. Refer to that list constantly as you write the copy for your site, and through the design process.
Think about what you want to say, before you say it. Some great questions to ask yourself might be:
- What is the purpose of this website?
- What do I want a visitor to this website to do?
- Why should they do what I want them to do?
- How will they do what I want them to do?
- What do they need to know.
- How would I describe each product/service I provide in a nutshell?
- Who am I trying to reach?
- How will my clients reach me?
- Why did I start this company?
Use the answers to these questions to write short bursts of copy that explain exactly what you do/offer, why you do/offer it, who you are, and how they do what you need them to do. Then edit it. Then edit it again.
If you have brand colours and fonts you like to use, pick a few and use them. If you’re just starting out, I recommend choosing two fonts and three colours tops.
If you don’t have any branding in place, get some! A great place to start is with Canva, where you can set up an account for free.
In Canva, they have a section called “Brand Kit”, where you’re able to pick some colours and fonts and see them altogether. The kit pictured here belongs to Hummingbird Media, and we have a paid subscription, so there’s a little more here than you’d find in a free kit, but it’s still very useful.
If you’re having trouble pairing fonts, the key is KEEP IT SIMPLE. My best advice here is to hit up Pinterest. Look up font pairings and you’re bound to find a pairing that you love. Then look up “colour pallets with hex codes”. Hex codes are the codes you need to plug in to any digital interface to tell it what colour you want it to show. Once you see one that speaks to you, jot down the hex codes and you’re good to go.
You can preview them in your Canva account to give your choices a trial run.
choose your platform.
Every platform has its good points and its not-so-great points. It’s best to do your research here. A pretty standard rule of thumb is, the ease of use = higher cost.
Things you want to consider in your research are:
- Is this platform ideal for people with my skill level?
- Is there a free trial period so I can try using the tool before I buy?
- Does this platform handle hosting (they likely do if you’re not using WordPress – also, don’t use WordPress if you’re just starting out), manage my domain, and have an SEO tool?
- How responsive is the customer support?
- Is this website transferable? (Hosting can be expensive, so you may want to have the opportunity to transfer your site to another platform when you have the budget/skills).
don’t reinvent the wheel.
You’d be hard pressed to find a drag-and-drop builder that doesn’t offer templates. A template is just a pre-designed webpage or website, that does all of the design and measurement for you. You will just go in and replace everything with your own information, fonts, colours and images.
I highly recommend using a template if it’s your first time building a website.
call in the troops.
The less glamorous, potentially heart-breaking part of web design is having it critiqued. BUT THIS STEP IS KEY. DO NOT SKIP IT.
Send a link to your new website to closed group of friends and/or family and ask them to use your website. Ask them to read every word, click every button and inspect every photo.
Take that feedback with as many grains of gratitude as you can muster, because it’s better to find out what works and what doesn’t, before you run the risk of losing a client over a silly mistake.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization which basically means optimizing your website to show up higher in search engine results. The world of SEO is unbelievably mysterious and massive, so don’t stress once you start looking it up.
Most drag-and-drop builders come with handy SEO tools that will walk you through the process. It’s usually laid out very simply, and it’s easy to follow.
There are a couple of terms you’re going to run into, so let’s get those out of the way now.
- Keywords: These are words or phrases you think your potential customers would type into a search engine to find you. Good things to keep in mind here are, what you do/sell, geographical location (if that matters), any niches you serve, things like that. There will likely be a place to enter those keywords using your SEO tool.
- Use Your Keywords!: Use those keywords throughout your site – especially in your headings. Before you use your photos, use your keywords to name them by changing the file name to include your keywords.
- Meta Description: This is a description of the page. Some pointers here are: Use your keywords, keep it short, and make it clear and to the point. This is the part that shows up below the URL when someone sees your web page on Google.
- Social Media Setup: These are the URLs you see in your search bar when you visit your social accounts online. Add them in where you can.
when in doubt, reach out.
Of course I would recommend hiring a professional to design your site, and not just because I happen to be one. If there’s one thing I have learned in the time I’ve been doing this, it’s that no matter how much you know, you’ll never know it all. There’s simply too much information out there for any one person to digest. A true professional however, knows a heck of a lot, and that, in web design, is enough.
If your website is a going to be a significant part of your business, it is worth the investment. Having your website built properly from the ground up, is worth every penny. If you want to talk about prices or what’s involved, you can always reach out and ask.
However, if you don’t have the budget there is NO shame in that! You can totally build a beautiful website on your own. I would encourage you to really use the internet, make use of any resources provided by the service you decide to use to build your site, and come at this project with a student mindset.
You built a whole business, you can handle a website! You got this!