There’s a lot to think about and plan for before starting a website. From the color palette to your keywords, understanding your audience, and the purpose of your site is essential before diving in to the look-and-feel. Our 15 helpful tips will get you started on what you need to know to create the most successful website for your business.
1. What is the point of the Website?
The absolute first thing to know is the actual point of the website. What is it being designed to do? What would you like to get out of it? What is its very reason for existing to begin with? If you don’t understand it, then there is really no way that you can design a website as it will be aimless right from the outset.
Tip: Create tangible, measurable goals. You’ll only know if you’ve achieved your goal if you can measure it!
2. What is your online brand name?
Another important thing is to know is what you’ll be called online. Many people use their regular name or business name, but sometimes these domains are taken. You can check quickly if a domain name is open here. If your first choice is taken you may want to brainstorm a memorable domain name, and don’t be fooled into thinking that your newly desired name is going to always be available either. Instead, check it out, and also look at whether it ends with .com or .co or anything else. This then allows you to start to design a website around the domain name so it can be associated with your business.
Tip: be sure to be clear and consistent with your online brand. Simple is better.
3. What content do you need?
You should also have an understanding of the various content that is going to appear on your website. This makes it easier to create the overall structure leading to a site that flows far more easily than it otherwise would have done. Think about your goals and the information you want to provide to visitors and begin to formulate how that relates to individual pages.
Tip: When in doubt, look at your competitors or those that inspire you. There is no one right answer!
4. What’s your Branding?
Your website is similar to the proverbial shop window for your business on the Internet. This means that your branding has to be well thought out before starting a website. It should flow perfectly with the other forms of marketing that you do for your business as continuity is everything in this business.
Tip: Many relaunching their website see this moment as a perfect opportunity to rethink their brand.
5. What’s your Color Scheme?
When starting a website, it can help to have some concept of the colors that you plan on using as that can have an impact on the overall layout and design of each page. Your brand may already have an established color palette or you may want to test new colors for this website. Color plays a big role in how a user feels and how your brand stands out from the crowd. Also, the colors should reflect your brand as it comes back to that consistency that was mentioned in an earlier point.
Tip: Increase engagement by making your contact or purchase buttons stand out through color.
6. What’s your Menu Structure?
A website is useless if nobody knows how to move between the various pages or how to get from A to B. You need to understand that the navigation needs to be clear or else people will just click off and go elsewhere. Questions that can be helpful to ask include:
- Which pages are most important?
- Which pages can be emphasized less?
- What does my audience want to see?
- Is there a way to simplify?
Tip: Too many choices creates visitor paralysis, so if you have many pages it is important to find a way to place them underneath main navigation items.
7. What could be frustrating visitors? (Usability)
The concept of usability is easy to understand. It involves making your website easy to use including contacting you, buying products if this is an option, signing up to an email list, or simply moving around. People hate to have to jump through hoops and effectively solve puzzles on a website, so avoid doing just that or you will turn people off.
Tip: As the website’s creator you’re the worst person to answer this question. Share the website with people you trust, have them submit their feedback, and implement their feedback.
8. Do you have a good Call to Action?
Since you’ve already decided on the purpose of your website, you should focus on the call to action that can then appear on your site. A call to action can include getting people to contact you by phone, email, complete a form, to sign up, to download, login, or anything else that requires them to do some kind of interaction with your website. Creating a measurable goal perviously allows us to watch and track our call to action.
Tip: Call to action are often tracked in percentages of visitors to your website. If you see 50% of people contacting you that’s amazing! But if only 0.0005% then it’s time to increase the emphasis on the call to action.
9. How often will you update your Website?
You need to decide if the content on your website needs to be updated on a regular basis or if it can be left alone. If you’d like to make regular updates, then it would be best to utilize a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress or Shopify. These tools make make it simple to make ongoing changes.
Tip: It was once common to build a website and never touch it again. But times have changed. Planning to make regular updates is key to have a healthy, search engine friendly website!
10. Who will write all of the Content?
So, you know what your website is about and the next step is to understand your content. This includes text as well as images and not forgetting any products that need to be on there as well. Knowing your content in advance, and then making various aspects a priority, does then help you with the design as it has a direct correlation to the layout and even how big a page needs to be.
Tip: Sounds scary? Don’t be worried. Copywriters and designers can help you create custom copy or imagery aligned to your vision.
11. What Keywords are you going to target?
Keywords are phrases or individual words that people will use in order to find your website. Understanding the keywords that you are going to target provides you with a more focused audience. This is something you should get some professional help with as getting it correct can boost the number of visitors that you receive.
Tip: There are many keyword tool apps that can help as you start exploring ideas.
12. Is it secure?
Do you understand the importance of security with your website? The level of security can depend on what it is that you are doing, so seek some professional advice before you go any further. If you are collecting details of any kind, and don’t forget payments, then there are certain rules and regulations that you must follow or run the very real risk of being sued. Google even recommends websites be secure to combat the rise of phishing and other tricky websites.
Tip: If you look at your website and don’t see a green lock in the top-left corner, then the website is not secure for sharing private information.
13. Who will build your Website?
You basically have two choices when it comes to building a website. You either use try to build one on your own or partner with an expert. While building your own website with the many website builders seems like a cost-saver, anyone who has done this will verify it isn’t as easy as it sounds. Websites are complex, and factoring in all of the different web browsers and potential devices means they can break too.
Tip: If you’re looking to generate revenue, building your own website isn’t a good idea. Focus on what you love and find a partner to bring your ideas to life.
14. What’s your budget?
It is also reasonable to say that you need to know your budget before starting a website as this influences the size of site as well as the quality. If building on your own it would be a good idea to limit the hours you will spend creating it, because your time is valuable too. You may need to shop around as the costs can vary or, alternatively, you might have to tone down your ideas for launch.
Tip: Think of your website as the hub of your marketing. It will grow and evolve alongside your business. It is never truly “finished”.
15. How will you market the Website?
All of the points listed earlier are going to be useless if you don’t understand how you will market your website. Just building it and hoping isn’t a great move. There is so much competition that the chances of people just finding you without you doing anything are very slim indeed. You must have a workable marketing plan ready to put into place even before the site is designed allowing you to take action immediately.
Tip: Do one thing every day to help promote your website. Make a blog post. Share a link on social. Submit your site to a local directory. Across a year you’ll have 365 successes!
Looking for more tips on how to design a website?
Check out our other helpful articles:
Need more help? Cubicle Ninjas has the expertise to bring any idea to life!