Starting a website build can be incredibly exciting, there are so many possibilities and this is something that will represent your company for potentially years to come.
But before you go full steam ahead with every possible effect, overlay, design and plug-in possible – there are some things you should be considering.
Who is your website for?
Firstly, remember that your website is not for you. Take a step back on every decision you make and ask whether it would make sense to, and please, your ideal customer. Are you explaining things clearly? Is their journey going to be easy? Do you answer all of their questions? When you’re so familiar with your own company, it can be easy to make assumptions or overcomplicate aspects. Your website should make it obvious who you serve, what you do and how they get in touch.
What is your website for?
Duh, you just said your customers – right? Wrong. In my opinion you have two main options when it comes to the purpose of your website. The first being direct sales, so this would be a commerce site. You want customers to make a purchase there and then on your website, which you fulfil and leave them happy. In that case, all of your calls-to-action and the entire journey and focus of the site needs to be pointing towards the shop. Make this part where you invest most of your time. Ensure that the payment process is easy and trustworthy, make the layout of the shop simple and intuitive to use. You can still include blogs, about sections and the rest – but make your shop the main event.
Your second purpose is more of a steppingstone in your customer journey. Like mine, for instance, you can’t make a direct purchase on my site – but hopefully it’s fairly clear that I want to educate you on what I do, and point you towards booking in a call/making an enquiry. For this you need to ensure that your services are clear, and that your site is positively littered with links to your chosen call-to-action (as I said before, mine’s to book a call). Put lots of buttons, think about what specifically your clients will be searching for and what questions they’ll want answering before they book a call. This might be service offering, price, how things work or a portfolio. Solve lots of problems and speak directly to your customer in all of your text.
Do you really need that, there?
One of the biggest mistakes people make with self-build websites is they think just because they can include, they should include it. Less is almost always more when it comes to a website design. No-one wants to wait for your fancy animation to take place before they can see your image – heck does that image actually add to the customer journey anyway? Go through each page of your website and ask the purpose of every single element, if it’s not helping to build a connection with, or explain something to, your ideal customer then it can probably go.
How big does it need to be?
No, bigger is not always better. Again, slow load times does nobody any favours. Not only will your clients lose interest but Google won’t look favourably on a slow to load website. So think twice before you include a page per team member, a slideshow of your entire life from birth up until business ownership, that video of your premises that actually went out of date two years ago, text bouncing across the screen, music playing in the background… you get the idea. Also try and keep your back office tidy, if pages really are obsolete – totally delete them rather than just hiding them.
To anchor, or not to anchor.
Okay this one is totally my opinion but I hate anchor sites. I find them harder to navigate than a traditionally laid out website. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, an anchor site is essentially one giant page and the navigation links whizz you down to the relevant section rather than opening a totally separate page. Again, the Google Gods don’t like them as they’re essentially tiny micro-sites rather than a nice, substantially built website – but if your client wants to compare information it can be more difficult on an anchor site, plus it’s quite easy to lose your place. If something deserves it’s own page – give it one!
The colours of the rainbow.
This perhaps should have come earlier in my list, but please do thing about both colours, fonts and photos when you design and build your website. If something is hard to read then guess what – people won’t read it. Don’t just consider how it looks to you in perfect lighting when you already know what it says. Think of it with people’s phone brightness set to both the highest & lowest setting (trust me, it does make a difference). Ask yourself if that super swirly font is actually readable, and I’d also opt for a nice San Serif font for any body text, you can go a bit more wild for the headers but again – please make sure we can actually read it. Avoid neon colours if possible, and if necessary then use the sparingly, as even contrasted with black or white they can make things visually difficult to digest. I personally like to use a lot of white in any design, and let the Brands colours pop in other areas – but if you want to go heavier with your branding then honestly do ensure it’s easily readable (easily being the operative word).
I would also argue that the photos you include will absolutely make or break your website design. You can pay thousands (not with us, we’re cheaper than that 😉) for a good website design but if you use photographs taken on a potato then you’ll ruin it immediately. This is an investment so I’d advise getting some professional photos taken whether that’s of you, your premises or your products – but if that’s not possible at least take some time and care. Use stock photos wisely and if you’re overlaying text I’ll repeat for the 1000th time – make it readable!
If this has left you a little confused and overwhelmed, then the good news is we will absolutely hold your hand through the process and make most of these considerations for you when you come to use for website design!