Nowadays, anyone can build a website. Wix, Moonfruit, 1and1 website builder…there’s a ton of free tools out there to build a website, but building it yourself can be risky!
No matter how small your business is, it deserves a great website. A great website, that doesn’t have DIY written all over it! This post will guide you through the key things you need to consider when building, or updating, your website to make sure it looks as professional as possible and attracts your target customers!
Building a website doesn’t have to be scary, difficult or expensive. If you’d rather not DIY, I offer a starter website package here:
Less really is more
Simplicity is key to so many things, and it can really do wonders for your website! Keeping things simple (Remember, KISS – keep it simple stupid!) in terms of appearance and navigation, helps your customers to work with you. They can easily see where to contact you, they understand what you do, they’re not overwhelmed by bright colours and flashing images, and they can find the information they need super easily.
Most of the points in this post involve simplicity and it’s something you should keep in mind throughout the web design process.
Set a main goal and stick to it
Your website needs to have a goal or a focus. Something that’s more in-depth than ‘my website goal is to attract customers’. For example, ‘my website goal is to attract customers to sign up for a 20-minute discovery call about their design needs. I’ll provide information and help so that they understand what I do and know that I’m worth those 20 minutes!’
Another example could be ‘my website goal is to attract customers to sign up to my newsletter where they’ll get weekly updates on new products. People rarely buy something on their first visit to a website so this way we can keep in touch and are more likely to sell in future. My products are still beautifully displayed and easy to find if they decide they do want to buy right away!’
FOCUS – you want your customers to go to your website, see what you do instantly, read all the information they need to know and decide to start that sales process, whether it’s signing up for your newsletter, booking a discovery call or just sending you an email.
You can have smaller secondary goals, for example a quiz or sign up form for your email newsletter, alongside your main goal but I’ve found it works best when you have a key focus.
First step in the design process? Wireframes!
Try wireframing just on a piece of paper. Draw out boxes to indicate where text and images will go, keeping your main goal in mind the whole time. Your website goal should feature many times throughout your website and it should also be close to the top of the page.
Wireframing also helps to ensure your website will be kept simple and it means you have to really think about what should go where and why, rather than just plonking it all on one page!
If you’re using a free online program to build your website, sometimes they’ll offer quite rigid templates to follow. No need to worry as these should have been designed with user experience in mind! However, it may still help to print or draw out these layouts to decide where everything will go on your website.
Do you really need all that info?
The key things you need on your website are:
- What you do. A clear statement, preferably right at the top of your home page and throughout your site, that explains simply what it is that you do.
- Contact details. Make it easy for people to work with you. Provide your email, phone number and a contact form if people want to message you right there without having to copy and paste your email or open their email provider.
- Brief information about your key products or services. Keep it simple and only put the necessary information. If your products or services involve a lot of information, consider creating a video that covers some of the points, or creating a separate page where people can click through for more information if they’d like to.
Split up large chunks of text with headings and sub-headings and try to make sentences relatively short. Reading big paragraphs on a screen is more difficult than reading them in print, so it’s better to split large paragraphs up.
Reduce the number of pages on your website where possible and combine pages if they don’t include much information. Yoast SEO plugin recommends having a minimum of 300 words per page to boost your search engine optimisation. This text content should be full of keywords that relate to your products or services!
If you find that even then you’re confused by the amount of information on your website, then you need to scale down! Don’t press delete willy-nilly, save it somewhere for future use! Maybe you could use the extra information in a leaflet, brochure, email, newsletter or blog.
Another thing to note is that the text content on your website should be descriptive, but simple with no jargon. Don’t use fancy words thinking that it’ll impress potential customers. It might have the opposite effect and completely confuse them!
Take advantage of the video
Statistics show that website visitors respond to videos more than written text. According to a post by Insivia, that you can read here, a third of all online activity is spent watching videos, 59% of executives would rather watch a video than read a text and one minute of video is equal to 1.8 million words.
I think that’s enough to persuade any business to try creating a video! If you’re like me and terrified of the camera, think of other ways you could record a video. Maybe a doodle video like mine on my about page or a video that just shows your product. Websites like FiveSquid can offer video editing services and voiceover services cheaply.
Videos aren’t just good for websites. You can use them in your social media as well to increase engagement.
Keep to your colour scheme
If you have branding for your business, then you should have a colour scheme. If you have a colour scheme, you should stick to it!
Your website represents your brand and visitors to your website should instantly be able to see and recognise your business. If you went on to Coca Cola’s website and it was bright blue, rather than their iconic red, you’d wonder whether you’ve gone to the right website! The same goes for your business as a whole. Keep your branding consistent EVERYWHERE!
Stick to 1 or 2 fonts
Just like colour schemes, your fonts should stay consistent too. Ideally, you’d have a font to use for headings and one for your main text content.
Sometimes, certain fonts aren’t available for use on the web and in print. If your logo has been designed with a font that can only be used for print, consider creating images using your font for parts of your website, e.g. blog graphics, but use a different font for headings and main text content. Wherever possible, text should be text!
Also, think about the size of your fonts. Make the font size quite big so that it’s easily readable without having to lean in close to the screen!
Use images to their full potential
Whether you’re a product based business or a service based business, images are important. For product based businesses, you need plenty of images (per product if possible) to show website visitors your product as if they’re holding it in their own hands.
For service based businesses, portfolio images and photos of the service itself, are important to show potential customers your previous work and what they can expect of the service.
If your business is quite personal, for example, I run my business on my own and would like people to connect with me as a person, include photos of yourself. Go one step further and take photos of yourself in your business environment wearing clothes that match your branding!
I recently wrote a post all about images for your business, read it here.
Don’t get fancy with page names
Your page names should be kept simple – Home, About, Services, Shop, Contact. When people land on your website, they should know for sure what each page will contain. Something like ‘Beautiful jewellery to buy’ should just be called ‘Jewellery’ for example.
Not only do long or complicated page names take up valuable space in your menu bar, they can also be confusing to your website visitors. There’s nothing stopping you from having a more detailed page name as a heading or sub heading when they click through to the page.
There’s also a structure to how pages should be listed in the menu bar. On the majority of websites, Home is at the start, followed by an about page, then one or two services pages, then a contact page. This is how website visitors expect pages to be laid out and it means they can find what they’re looking for immediately. Depending on the business, there may be a few more pages in between.
Call your customers to action!
ATTENTION! When someone lands on your website, they need direction. Remember your main goal from earlier? That’s a good starting point.
It’s important to tell your website visitors what you want them to do, for example text saying ‘Sign up here’ or even better, a call to action button. People know that buttons on websites are there to be clicked!
By including buttons that say simple commands like ‘Click here’, ‘Buy now’, ‘Sign up’, ‘Contact us’ etc, your customer is more likely to perform that action. It’s simple, it’s clear and it shows them what direction to go.
Make sure you include some information beforehand, including a catchy headline, so that they know what they are clicking through to. This is the banner I use for my discovery call CTA.
To pop up or not to pop up?!
Opt-in elements, like newsletter sign ups and pop-ups, work the same way as a call to action. They need a catchy headline to draw attention, a reason or benefit of opting in and a CTA button or link.
Let’s be honest, pop-ups are annoying! But, they work. If you’re going to use a pop-up, for your email newsletter sign up, for example, make sure it’s delayed so it doesn’t instantly pop up as soon as someone lands on your page. I use PopupAlly and I have it set so it pops up if it looks like the user is going to leave the website.
A website visitor should easily be able to close a pop-up to carry on viewing your website. I’ve left sites before when there wasn’t a clear close button!
Research to find the best popup for your website, or if you’re using WordPress, check out these pop-up recommendations.
Test, test, test!
Test your website on different browsers, on tablets and on mobiles to make sure there are no issues with how the website displays.
Also proofread all of your content and test all of the links to make sure they work.
If you can, get another pair of eyes to look over it to ensure you didn’t miss anything!
Analyse your website
Set up your website with Google Analytics so you can regularly analyse your website and assess what difference any changes are making.
One key thing to look out for is bounce rate. This is when someone arrives at your website but doesn’t interact further. Google Analytics calls this a ‘single-page session’, because they only visit one page and then they leave your website. Something might have confused them or put them off the site.
This could be because an advert they’ve clicked on doesn’t accurately describe what you do (that’s why landing pages are great as it means the web page they land on is 100% to do with the ad!), they can’t figure out how to find more information, they’re not sure how to contact you, crazy colours make their eyes hurt…you get the idea!
It’s difficult sometimes to figure out why the bounce rate is so high, and that’s why it’s important to regularly assess and amend your website to make it as efficient as possible. It’s also a good idea to get feedback from your target audience if you can!
To read more about bounce rate and how to improve it, see Google’s article here.
If you’re stuck, I’m always happy to take a look! Book a free 20-minute discovery call here.
Benefits of hiring a professional
There’s so much more that I could write about but these are the basics to get you started! If that all sounds a bit daunting or time consuming, consider hiring a professional web designer.
Professional website design doesn’t have to be expensive! My target audience is mostly very small businesses with very small budgets and I’ve created my starter website design package for this reason.
Compared to a custom website that would cost £1,400+, you can get a 3-page website for £450 (50% deposit and 50% upon completion) that is based on a pre-designed template (that’s where you save money!) but still beautiful, functional and able to expand easily as your business grows.