It goes without saying that a website is a vital piece of a healthy and flourishing business model in today’s web savvy and techy world. As a new or growing business, I’m sure you’re stoked to get going on this investment, dreaming of how it will cultivate your brand, and the ways it will point to success in the future.
But wait. Don’t jump into this website building just yet. Not without a plan or a roadmap. Not without asking yourself a few important (critical!) questions about your business, purpose, and brand. Here are 4 questions to answer before creating your website.
WHAT IS THE MAIN PURPOSE OF THIS WEBSITE?
Your website is an asset. A tool. A strategy. A way to reach others. In the basic scheme of things, the main purpose of a blog-style website is to reach your readers with daily content, be it recipes, daily living, or tech tips. If you’re a small shop, the main purpose of your website is to market and sell your goods and products. If you’re a service-based business, your website’s purpose is to spell out your services, display your expertise, and attract new clients.
Another way to look at this question is to ask yourself why your people (customers, clients, and readers) need this website? If they are blog readers, make it super easy and attractive for them to browse through your content and learn more about you as a writer. If they are customers, they need a quick and easy way to purchase your goods and perhaps even share them with their friends and family. If they are potential clients, create a site that naturally lends itself to learning more about you and why you’re the solution to their problem or need.
We often jump into the creation process by wanting our website to be a reflection of our own personal expression, forgetting that the main purpose is to reach our ideal client. By reflecting too much of ourselves without considering what would reach out to our reader, we miss out on the full potential of what is perhaps the most powerful sales tool in our business arsenal.
IS MY BRAND STYLE ROCK-SOLID?
Before jumping into a website project–either DIY or with the help of a professional designer–you’ll save yourself a lot of time and headache if you verify first that your brand style is solid. Do you love it? Equally important, is it something your ideal clients and customers will love and relate to?
Brand elements to consider include your logo and logo variations (this is a biggie), your color scheme, fonts and typography, any patterns or backgrounds, graphics, photography, and even the “voice” of your copy. You can also DIY this step, but it helps to create a brand board on Pinterest or in a design program like Adobe Illustrator with all of these elements meshed into one so you can see the greater picture and be certain that your brand is cohesive, aesthetically pleasing, and works well together.
WHAT CONTENT DO I NEED TO PREPARE?
This is important. The term “content” is often used to describe a very broad category of information. Content is your descriptive copy or text. Content is blog posts. Content is your photography. Content is even video or audio, like video blogs or podcasts. A more contemporary idea of content is high-quality, useful information delivered in an engaging way. It’s related to your brand and brand elements in the sense that can overlap (like in the manner of photography or brand “voice”).
So, in other words, what are you going to use to fill up the majority of your website?
Specifically, common elements of website content include the pages of your website, the descriptive copy on each page, images and photography to be used (stock photography or custom photography are both options), any niche blog posts to prepare before you launch your site, and even images and text to use on social media. These things should all be prepared or at least mapped out in advance.
A strategy for this is to consult websites (either in your niche or out) that give you inspiration. Determine what layout, navigation style, and even pages included speaks to your brand and your ideal customer.
WHAT OUTSIDE ACCOUNTS WILL I NEED?
This varies as far as what kind of website you’re creating and for what purpose, but it is fairly across-the-board that you’ll need your social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.) set up and ready for integration. It’s crucial to make it easy for viewers to find you on social media and engage with your brand on a more social platform than just your website.
Other accounts you’ll need include an email marketing service, like Mailchimp or ConvertKit. These email marketing service providers allow you to collect email subscribers from your website or blog so you can communicate and market to them via another form of contact. Building your email list could be one of the most important things you can do to build your business, so having an account with one of these providers integrated with your website right away is the way to go.
If you are creating a lifestyle blog and hope to generate an income from advertisements, you may also want a Google Adsense account or other affiliate program account set up and ready to go.
Asking yourself these 4 important questions–and doing the legwork to prepare all of these steps before jumping into the creation of your website–will save you a boatload of time and effort once you actually get down to the nitty-gritty of building your website. It will make the process go more smoothly and you’ll get an end result that is cohesive but also that you’ll be thrilled with. And who doesn’t need to be more efficient in their creative small business: *hand raised* 🙂
Any additional questions on preparing for a website? Ask away in the comments!