If you want to create your own business or side-gig, you need an online presence and it really should be on prime land that you own i.e. your own website. This article is part 2 of a series of post on how to create a Website and is about the designing phase.
I wrote this article with the following basic assumptions:
- You want to create your own business.
- You understand that having a presence on social media isn’t enough and is too risky so you want your own website.
- Paying someone to create your website isn’t an option, at least not at this point.
- You read part 1 of this series of articles.
Creating a website is far down the road considering all the things you need to do, to get your business up & running. Yet, it is an essential part and something you need to think about, well ahead its actual launch.
How to create a Website
You’ve already read articles available online on how to create your website under 10 minutes and it goes like this:
- Choose a domain name
- Get your site registered
- Set up your site
- Get traffic and make money
Well, let’s get this straight: If technically, you could probably do these steps in 10 minutes if you have made all the appropriate decisions beforehand. In reality, it will take you far, far more than 10 minutes to complete and launch a website that looks like something and most importantly does, for your business, what it is supposed to do.
I’m not trying to be alarmist, I’m actually trying to be reassuring. Creating a website that looks exactly the way you want will take you more than 10mn and most likely more than a few hours and it’s perfectly normal!
In part 1 of this series, we covered how to choose your business name / domain name and I recommended you to register it asap so part 1 covered basically the 2 first points of the above list.
In this part 2, we’ll talk about something I love and sometimes hate: Design!! This is in relation to point 3 of the above list: Set up your site.
3- Get your site set up
Following part 1, you have created your web host account, registered your domain name and installed WordPress and are basically ready to start creating your site.
The first thing to do is to close your computer, take a pen and paper and start designing your website!
Design your Home Page
You read correctly! Step away from your computer, take a pen and paper and start designing your website on paper!
What do you want your website to look like isn’t the primary question. What do you want your customers to do once they land on your home page is far more important.
It depends of your business type but chances are that you will be selling services or products.
So here are 2 examples to ponder:
Think of Google landing page. There’s almost only one thing you can do when you reach it: type a request and search for result. Google offers lots of other services but their primary business is ‘search’ and you can’t miss it.
If you are going to sell products, think of Amazon. What do you find on their homepage? Their lead product of course! Surrounded by search options and other tools, and followed by other products but you can’t miss what they are trying to sell first.
Whatever you are going to sell, services or products, be clear right away. Don’t go hiding your shop in one of the menu, make sure, it’s right at the top, big and bold.
Once you have decided what should go above the fold (the name for the top part of your site before readers need to scroll down), you can start thinking of what will fill up the rest of your home page and how it should be organized. Obviously the more important, the higher up, and the nitty-gritty at the bottom.
Draw your site and the different sections on paper. This will structure your thoughts and help you decide on your online strategy & priorities (they can change with time). Arguably you should already know your online strategy & priorities and these should dictate your design. In practice, chances are that one will influence the other and vice versa when you dig into the design process.
Think of the content, how it will be laid out and how it will interact and complete. You do not need to write such content, but you can certainly frame it with bullet point.
Important additional info
Note, that since you are just starting your business, collecting emails from your potential clients should come pretty hight on your list. Almost no one is going to buy from you, the first time they visit your site (if they are you really have a brilliant business idea! congratulation!). Providing your potential customers with useful info (There is a good reason why everybody nowadays is creating free tutorials, free ebooks, etc… ) and capturing their details so you can stay in touch should be high on your priority list.
Design your other pages
Chances are that your customers will not arrive on your site through your home page, so designing your other pages is just as important as designing a killer home page.
It doesn’t matter if it’s your ‘about’ page, your FAQ, or a blog post.
The question here is the same as above. What do you want your customer to do? The answer will vary depending on the page.
Maybe you will want them to go to your home page from where they have landed. In which case, don’t give them 100 other options.
Maybe you’ll want them to click on a specific link, in which case, again, don’t give them other options!
Maybe you don’t really care?! In which case, do give them other options!
And maybe you don’t really know yet. That’s ok. Just remember to ask yourself this question when creating each page / post.
Find your perfect theme
Time to turn your computer back on! Since you are most likely not an html wizard, you’ll want to find a theme that best matches your design.
WordPress offers tones of free themes which are really good to start with. At first you can choose a free theme but choose one that can be upgraded.
Make sure the theme you select is responsive which means your site will appear nicely on mobiles, tablets or computers.
Also make sure the theme you select allows for all the feature you need. Not all themes will allow you to have an online store for example. For WordPress users, you need to make sure the theme you select allows the use of Woocommerce.
Take your time when selecting your theme. Compare lots of them before taking a decision.
It is easy to change theme once your site is up and running. It really only requires one click but in reality it usually creates issues. Your header, title, and all your images might appear differently from one theme to another which means that when changing theme you might need to resize a lot of things. It is painful, really painful to do, believe me!!
In case you are wondering my theme is called Accelerate by ThemeGrill. ThemeGrill have excellent support and an extremely useful forum. This is not an affiliated link. I just really like my theme!!
Customize your site appearance
You have in your mind a clear idea of what you want your website to do for you and your business. You chose a theme that best matches your requirements. It will be soon time to customize it! But this is for Part 3!!
Designing your website is about giving your potential clients a great experience. It’s about the added value you bring to them. If they can’t find what they are looking for, if they have too many options, get confused or are bombarded with unnecessary stuff, they will leave.
Appealing pictures, nice colors schemes, pretty fonts all matter… but content is the most important thing!