Have you ever had a great idea for a website, but when it came to actually building the site, you were totally lost?
Unfortunately, that happens far too often. People think if they don’t jump on an idea immediately and build their site, they’ll lose their momentum.
It’s actually just the opposite.
If you don’t approach this idea with a lot of thought BEFORE you implement it, you’re doomed to fail — or at least struggle a whole lot before you succeed.
These 10 things to do before you build your website will all but ensure you smooth sailing!
Think Before You Build Your Website
As a web designer, I have dealt with slow-moving clients before. They drag things out for days, weeks, or even months before they have gotten all of their ideas out and the work has been done.
This is what happens when you fail to plan!By failing to plan, you're planning to fail. #webdesigntips #NinjaWolf Click To Tweet
Not only is this not good for your designer, but it’s also counter-productive for you. It will burn you out on the idea before you ever really get started.
Think about your website — what you want it to be, how you want it to look, who your target audience is. Once you have figured this stuff out, you and your designer will have an extremely easy time getting things done.
Listen, it’s a lot to think about if you’re truly wanting to be successful. Take a month or so to really go through this checklist in depth. Figure it all out. If — by the end of that month — you still want to go forward, you’ll thank yourself. It will be a lot smoother sailing than if you had just jumped into it blindly.
If — by the end of that month — you’re already burnt out on the idea, you’ve saved yourself a lot of time, headache, and (potentially) money getting things set up the way you want them, only to drop it in a few weeks… or worse, keep it up and stress out over it daily.
So What Needs To Be Done Before You Build Your Website?
1- Form a Plan of Attack
If you want your site to be successful, you have to start with some sort of business plan. It doesn’t have to be a 30 page essay, but it should cover the basics of what your vision is for your website.
- What service will you provide?
- Will you be selling something?
- What is the main point of your website?
If you intend to sell something, make a list of products you will have in your online store. If you are just building a blog, go into it knowing exactly what you want your overall message to be.
Having a good business plan from the start will help you stay focused on the main idea that you want to convey, and that will help drive your site in the right direction.
2- Use High Resolution Graphics
Low resolution graphics cannot be enlarged for things like website banners, social media headers or even t-shirts. A logo that is high resolution can be resized to match the application for which you need it.
The quality of the graphics on your website will instantly give people an idea of the quality of the product you’re offering. If the graphics are blurry and unclear, chances are your consumers will look elsewhere for what they need.
When you talk to your graphic designer, be sure you tell them what all you may be wanting to use your logo and graphics for in the future. That will give them some sort of idea how to provide you with what you need.
If you’re doing your own logo and graphics, remember to design bigger than you need. It is much easier to reduce size and maintain quality than it is to enlarge and maintain.
3- Gather Your Photos and Images
Just as with your graphics, your photos and images say a lot about your end product. If you’re using pictures with low light, grainy, and undersized, your audience will likely not trust what you are selling — even if you’re just blogging.
If you are selling products you are making, quality photos of your products can make or break you. Take lots of pictures in different settings and positions using the best format possible for your camera. You can go through them all later and decide which one(s) best display your product.
If you’re not taking your own pictures, make sure you’re using images that are royalty free — copyright lawsuits can seriously drain your wallet.
Understand that if you’re wanting images on your website, and you don’t have them, your designer cannot fully do their job.
4- Set Your “Call to Action”
Have you ever been on a website and see a button that says “Buy This Product” or “Click Here to Sign Up”? That is a “Call to Action”. It is CALLING your audience to perform an ACTION.
What is the desired action you want your users to do to end their experience on your website?
Are they to buy your product? Do you want them to sign up for your newsletter? Maybe you want them to watch a video?
Whatever it is you want people to do, make it easy for them to do it on EVERY page of your website. The “Call to Action” is the reason for the site.
5- Know Your Audience
Identifying your key demographic is the top thing you can do to produce the best product you can. You want to talk to them through your website like you would talk to them face-to-face.
If you were in a brick-and-mortar building, and someone walked in, how would you address them? What would you say to them to convey the message of your business?
For example, if you’re a teacher in a school, you need to be informative… if you’re selling your latest book, you should give a few teasers to your audience to make them want to read the book… if you’re displaying hand-turned pens, let your readers know everything about that pen so they know exactly what they’re buying.
Some people may know exactly what your site is about the moment they get there. Others may need more information. Convey your message under the assumption that nobody knows what your site is about — then everyone will better understand your message.Write your blog assuming nobody knows what your site is about - then everyone will better… Click To Tweet
6- How Do You Want Your Site To Look?
Someone once said, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” While that may not be completely accurate, it’s a pretty powerful statement — and one you should think about when you’re deciding how you want your site to look.
What colors do you like? What colors do you dislike? Have you found a particular style of layout you totally adore?
Figuring out how you want your site to look is a key to a smooth design process. Little tweaks to color can be made along the way, but you can’t go in without a clue and say “Ooh, I want to change this to blue and this to purple and this to neon green and this to pumpkin orange…” Your designer will freak out… and your clients will likely not get past the first page of your site.You never get a second chance to make a first impression - so make that first impression count!… Click To Tweet
7- Define Your Pages
This may sound like something very obvious, but have you actually thought what you actually want on your site?
Most sites include pages like “About Us” and “Contact Us”. What else do you want to say? What else do you want people to know about your business and your overall message?
This is also where your menu(s) come from. Each page will have a different spot on your menu. If you’re trying to cram all your information on one page, your menu won’t be very big. On the other hand, if you have 30 pages, you can break those down into sub-menu items, if need be.
8- Write Your Copy!
What good would it do to tell your designer what pages you want if you don’t even know what you want those pages to say?
“I want an ‘About Me’ page.” Ok. Tell me about yourself. Tell me what you want people to know about you when they click on that “About Me” page.
Nobody knows you and your business as well as you do. Even if you aren’t the best writer in the world, you should still write some text for each page. Your designer may be able to help you fine-tune those words into some powerful copy that will captivate your audience and leave them drooling for more!Nobody knows your business as well as you do. #bloggingtips #NinjaWolf Click To Tweet
9- Research Your Competition
Don’t get me wrong — I’m not saying you should be doing everything your competitors are doing. But you should at least know what’s going on with their website in order to better evaluate and plan your own.
Your competition may not be selling the same thing you’re selling, but they might be writing about something you’re writing about. Don’t go with the intent to copy them — go with the intent to learn from their successes and their mistakes so that you can produce the very best product possible.
10- Define Your Keywords and Phrases
Keywords are what define your site to a search engine. Pick out the top words and phrases that best describe your overall message. Those are the words you want to incorporate into everything you write on your website.Keywords are what define your site to search engines. #bloggingtips #NinjaWolf Click To Tweet
Imagine you’re going to Google to look for vegetable gardening tips. “Vegetable gardening tips” is the keyphrase there. You’re going to come a lot closer to finding what you want to know if you’re using the phrase ‘vegetable gardening tips’ than if you used ‘gardening tips’ or just ‘gardening’ (although, those would be useful, too).
Think about your overall message you are trying to convey on each page of your site, and hit hard on those keywords.
Using These Tips Will Help You Build Your Website
Now that you have made your list and checked it twice, it’s time to actually get started building that massively successful website. You have all the tools you need to get things headed in the right direction, and if you need help, NinjaWolf Studios can certainly assist you!
If you’re more of a do-it-yourself kinda guy or gal, that’s cool, too. I hope this checklist has helped you on your journey.
…and if you already have a website, maybe this list helped you reevaluate your site so you can put things in order when you’re ready to redesign.