10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Designing Your Website
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When you’re starting a new business, or even re-branding an existing one, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement! You’ll want to launch your website right away, and get started. However, it’s important to step back and get yourself organized before you even start the web design process, so you don’t get stuck along the way.
HERE ARE THE TOP 10 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF:
1 | What is your timeline?
Do you have any big interviews or events coming up in the next 3, 6 or 12 months that you need to be prepared for? If you expect to receive a lot of interest in your business, you’ll want to figure out when that will be, and reverse engineer your timeline. Plan at least 2 weeks for prep work (strategy, copywriting and photography), and another 2-4 weeks for the website design process. You may also want to factor in 2 more weeks post-launch, to be sure that there are no glitches and that everything, including your contact forms, are working correctly.
2 | Is your brand already established?
Having an brand identity is the foundation of all great websites. You will need to have a logo (if not custom, a text-logo will work just fine), your colors, fonts and visual style already established before you can effectively create a cohesive & captivating website. This should ideally all be on your Brand Style Guide, whether it’s something you’ve done yourself, or had a designer do for you. If you don’t already have this, I’d love to support you in creating this before you start your web design! Please join the DIY Design Alliance Facebook Community to learn more about how I can support you.
3 | What is the #1 goal of your website?
When your ideal clients land on your site, what is the main thing that you want them to do? Should they click through to read more about you and your services? Do you want them to fill out an inquiry form to work with you? Or maybe you want to spend some time building your email list, so it would be really important to have an enticing opt-in front and center on your website. What is your main CTA? It’s important to know the answer to this so that the website is laid out correctly from the beginning.
4 | What is your Value Proposition Statement?
This is that clear statement, “We do X, for Y, so they can Z”. You only get 5 seconds to make a first impression, so it’s the first statement that your audience should read when they land on your site, so they know immediately who you are, what you do, and how you can help them. Defining your VPS could take some preliminary brand strategy work, so be sure this is something you’ve thought through, and sought out help with if you’re unsure. I include this preliminary brand strategy work in my mini course, Brand Foundations, and would love to help you out if this is an area you’re struggling with.
5 | Have you purchased your domain and secured your social media usernames (of the same domain)?
This is an easy one, but it’s probably the most important thing you need to do. Secure that domain and ALL the usernames that you’re going to need before you start. There are a few places you should check when determining your domain. First, my favorite name checker resource, www.namechk.com will tell you what extensions of the domain are available as well as what social media still has it available for a username. Once you find out that it’s available, head on over to TESS (Trademark Electronic Search System) and enter it there as well. The last thing you need is to spend all the time, money and effort on your business, only to get a cease and desist letter months (or years) later. Trust me, this has happened to me before, and it’s happened to some of my clients as well!
6| What other accounts do you need to set up, to run and integrate with your website?
In addition to purchasing your domain name, you need to be thinking about several other accounts you need. Do you have a way to collect emails to keep in touch with your prospects? For this, you’ll need something like MailChimp or Active Campaign. Do you need a scheduling system integrated into your website? I use and love Acuity Scheduling, but there are many to choose from. If your website will be built on WordPress, you’ll also need to purchase web hosting, in addition to your domain. I recommend SiteGround to all of my clients for their web host solution. Also, if you’re going to use WordPress, you’ll need a theme, and my absolute favorite is Divi, by Elegant Themes (that’s what I build all of my client website on!). If you’ll be using Squarespace or Shopify, you will need an account for either of those as well.
7 | How many pages will you need on your website?
It will be important to determine early on whether you want a smaller brochure-style site with just a handful (4-5) of pages, or if you anticipate needing something more robust with a full navigation with individual service-page drop-downs, media, faq’s, multiple gallery pages and contact forms. Whether you write this all out on a cocktail napkin, or dive into a full-scale spreadsheet sitemap, it’s important that you at least have a general idea of how your site should be structured before you decide which platform you’re going to build your website on. If you’re feeling lost about this, I’m happy to offer guidance inside of my free Facebook Community, the DIY Design Alliance.
8 | Is your website copy already written, or will you need to set aside time to do that?
Based on years of experience, I can tell you without a doubt that it’s very difficult to design web pages without knowing the amount and style of copy that needs to go on each page. Have you already written your copy, do you still need more time to do that, or will you be hiring a copywriter for this task? If you’re planning to hire it out, keep in mind that many professional copywriters have a waitlist that is 1-3 months long… When in doubt, ask for referrals!
9 | Let’s talk about photos! Do you already have professional, on-brand photos?
A website without photos is just a high-tech, clickable “document”. In order to captivate your audience and compel them to read more and ultimately want to work with you, they’re going to want to see more than just words on the screen. If you haven’t already had a professional photo shoot, you’ll want to factor that into your timeline and expect at least a few weeks to hire a photographer, prepare for the shoot, do the shoot, then wait for the photos. If you’re not planning to have a photo shoot, you’ll want to assess the stock photo market, and determine which photos will best meet the needs of your website’s purpose.
10 | Are you ready to do the work?
Web design is an intensive process, and will require a fair amount of grit & persistance to get it right! No one understands your business and mission better than you do, so it’s awesome that you’re doing this on your own, but just know that the hard work and hustle will definitely pay off once you’ve got a brand new website that you’re proud to show off!
Hopefully these 10 questions have given you some things to think about as you’re nearing the process of designing your website! If you’ve covered everything above, and you’re ready to get started on your own beautiful web design journey, I’d love to support you, and cheer you on! Come join us inside the FREE Facebook Community, DIY Design Alliance, and get all your questions answered!
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Hey there, I’m Sarah Masci –
Owner of Bracken House Branding Co. & DIY Design Alliance.
I’m a wife and mom of four boys, and I’ve been designing high-end brands and online experiences for over a decade.
I’m here to flip the script and completely reveal all of my secrets and my processes to designing a brand and online presence
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