- Cut your website development time by hiring a web developer who gets you.
- Study your competitors’ websites, shortlist things you love and hate, and decide the pages needed.
- Select 2 fonts and 3 colours, and invest in good photos for the best user experience.
Creating a new website or revamping an existing site is an important project if you are in business in 2019. If you don’t have a website, you should be considering about it right now. And if you are thinking about it, you are heading in the right direction.
Your website is your business card.
At the time of this article’s publication, there are 3.5 billion Google searches every day (Internet Live Stats). With 7.7 billion people on the planet right now – I’ll do the maths for you – that’s about 50% of the general population doing a Google search per day. And as we know, grannies and babies aren’t doing the searches.
Therefore, it’s safe to say that most people are googling to find solutions for their problems multiple times a day. And if you are in business, you are probably selling a solution to someone’s problem. You need to get your business card in front of those people. And like I said, your website, in 2019, is the modern equivalent of your business card.
I hope I’ve got you thinking about your website now.
Getting a website doesn’t have to be an unpleasant process if you hire a web developer you get along with. Ask yourself this: “If it all goes bad (which it possibly will a couple of times during your website build), is my web developer the kind of person I can go through a minor conflict with while upholding our integrity?”. Because if you already feel a bit funny about your developer, I can guarantee you - it’s probably going to get ugly.
I liken building a website with someone to having a baby together. Without being overly dramatic - it really is! It’s a creative project. It’s YOUR business presence. It’s going to make you a lot of money if you do it right. And it will cost you a few dollars. You need to take the time to find the right web designer and developer. Test out their sense of humour and use your intuition. Your gut knows.
Once you’ve found your best developer, there are a couple of things that slow down a website build and to be honest, they are usually nothing to do with the developer. In my experience, the things that slow down any website build are:
- The web developer not having clarity about your style direction
- The web developer not having your content (words and images)
A good web developer will be able to overcome these (and other) challenges and should have great project management skills to get your website up for you in minimal time. But there are a few things you can do to make it easier for your website developer to get your site up.
Here are the 8 things you should do before you even see a web developer to get your website built faster.
1. Look at your competitors
Studying your competitors’ websites can be a demoralising experience. Slipping into comparison-itis is never a good place to be as a businessperson or entrepreneur. But you need to know what’s out there to deliver something better for your customers. So, looking at your competitors’ websites is an activity for a day when you are feeling emotionally robust. Or if you’re not quite as much of a petal as me, you can do it right now.
I like to look at competitors locally, nationally and internationally to get a good picture of where you sit in the market and what is possible in the scope of your industry. Three of each should do it and you will either be pleasantly surprised at how rubbish their sites are and have a little party about how easily you’re going to conquer the market OR you’re going to need a bit of loving self-care and set some realistic expectations around building the best site you can with what you currently have. One page can be all you need to get a message across, especially if you follow all the recommendations here - even on a budget.
2. Shortlist sites you love and hate
Start to look at the websites you interact with every day with a critical eye. Observe the colours, fonts, images and column layouts you like. What kind of button style do you like? What functionality do you really like? What about animated items that pop-out from the sides or jiggle on the page?
Love them or hate them, they are all possibilities. And even if pop-ups are a little irritating - okay let’s stop right there. Actually, in 2016, this research found that pop-ups are the most irritating kind of ad. Let’s rephrase that.
Pop-ups are officially extremely annoying, but they have been found to convert up to 40% of your website visitors into email list subscribers and possible customers. So, start to critically analyse websites and have a shortlist of 3 of each: websites you love and websites you hate. Have these in hand for your web developer. In fact, good web developers will ask you this question themselves.
3. Get a logo with a text-only option
Whether or not you have interviewed a graphic designer, your website will need a logo. I have built a bunch of sites and seen logos that were easy to read and logos that were a bit of a headache to get right. Your graphic designer might be an amazing artist and have made you a spiffy logo, but were they creating it with your website in mind?
My favourite style of logo for a website is a text-only logo. I love Danielle LaPorte’s. Neil Patel’s is a good example too. Have a peek at those 2 examples if you’re not sure what I mean. See how easy they are to read? Now, these are both personal brands, but even corporate brands use the same style, like Thermomix and Coke. There are no 90’s style flourishes, fancy colours, lines or icons. Just the name of the business.
Another helpful thing you can do is make sure you have the logo in the file type PNG and on a transparent background. If that doesn’t make sense to you, just say those words to your graphic designer or Google it. This will make your web developer happy and it will look good on your site. The dimensions should be something like 1200px x 200px or so depending on your style.
4. Choose 2 fonts
In your critical review of other websites, hopefully, you were paying attention to the fonts and gaining some insight into what you like and don’t like. Again, you can work with a graphic designer to decide on your branding style, but you can wing it by yourself too. By font, I meant, the shape of the letters. Do you notice that all websites have different shaped writing? These are all different fonts.
I recommend you choose one font for your headings and one font for the body.
Fonts generally fall into 2 categories: serif and sans serif. A good example of serif is Georgia. It has little tails on all the letters. A sans serif font is Verdana. It is generally recommended that you use sans serif for online topography because the resolution of computers is lower than print. It’s easier to read a sans serif font on a computer or mobile. You could choose an artsy, hand drawn or serif font for your heading font.
5. Use 3 colours max
Choose a maximum of three colours that work for your brand. Even if they are black, white and one other colour. In fact, I would recommend you don’t go too “tutti frutti” with your website colours. Now that you have looked at your competitors, some sites you love and some sites you hate, you should have a better sense of what works and what doesn’t. Keep colour in mind when you are doing steps 1 & 2.
6. Get the best photos you can
Great images make or break a site. Even if you can’t afford a session with a professional photographer, I encourage you to have some decent quality photos of yourself and if needed, your premises and products. Make sure the light is right and your face is not shaded. Make sure they are high resolution and not pixelated. You also don’t want them too big. Elegant Themes has a great image size article to guide you, or your developer might resize your images for you. Do not upload massive image files to your website. It will slow your website load time.
7. Decide what pages you need
You are going to save a heap of time if you have clarity about what pages you need. If you’re unsure, it’s worth talking to a marketing consultant because your website is essentially a marketing tool. A good marketing strategy combined with clarity about your competitors and your industry, and what you like in a website, should help you decide what pages you need.
However, sometimes, especially if you are a solopreneur, you can get myopic or just plain lost about things like this. Maybe a business coach can help. But get some help. A good web developer should be able to help you decide, but your site will get up faster if you have thought about this before you see your developer.
8. Get your copy sorted
By copy, I mean the words for each page.
Once you’ve gone through all the steps outlined here, you will be a virtual website aficionado. You will, hopefully, have an idea of what pages you want and what you want to say on them.
You may need to see a copywriter to develop grammatically correct and smooth flowing copy for your site. My one recommendation is to avoid large blocks of writing. It’s better to have short paragraphs, main points in large headings and guide the reader’s eye down the page easily by interspersing with emotive images where appropriate. Your website developer may have copywriting as part of his or her service, but if you have your copy ready, it’s going to be way quicker to get the site up.
And that’s a wrap. Good luck creating a gorgeous site for your business with a funny, co-operative website developer who gets you. I hope your business grows and sustains you on all levels.
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