If you’re a small or even medium sized business, designing your own website is a lot harder when you actually sit down to do it.
It’s one thing to look at a competitor’s website and say “Yeah, that looks like an amazing website.” Unless you come from a design or creative background, it suddenly becomes a lot harder to answer a very loaded question: What do you want?
A lot of the times the problem is trying to tackle the website in its entirety rather than take steps. So I’ve outlined six steps to take to make the best preparations for the website design you want – all before you even hire a developer.
1. Define Your Website’s Thesis
Every website needs to have a one sentence thesis driving it. What’s the purpose of it? What’s it going to accomplish? Most importantly, how is it going to make you money?
Base your thesis on on the type, size, and nature of your business, and where you want to take it in five years. You might consider heavily investing in the blog of your website in order to establish yourself as a credible thought leader. If you’re retail driven the focus may be to maximize visitor conversion in an online store.
This thesis will heavily influence the design of your website and your homepage in particular. Write down, underline it, and better yet, show it to your web developer or marketing company. They’ll want to hug you for having done your homework and they’ll be able to offer more tailored guidance when you know what you want to do.
2. Write Down A List Of Your Needs
When you define what your website is going to do, it becomes that much easier to actually list the things you need. For example, if you’ve defined your thesis as being an online store, you should write down a list of what you want that online store to encompass: Daily specials, coupon codes, flash sales, and so forth.
Knowing what you need makes the overall design a lot easier because the design winds up being based around the features you want, rather than designing first and then having to revise it to accommodate essential features later on. This has the added bonus of making your web developer that much less likely to hate you.
3. Sketch Exactly How You Want the Homepage and Inner Pages To Look
It can be difficult to envision how you want your website to look, so start with the framework. Sketch out the most basic components of your website on paper or in a simple Paint program and define where everything is: The header, the opening copy, the featured blog post, the E-mail opt-in form, the footer, everything. Blueprints make the process much easier and it lets you anticipate how much work will be involved, and what colors will go where.
4. Define Your Color Scheme
Whether your website is a fiery, explosive red or a clean, professional white, decide on the two or three colors that will be characterizing your website. Better yet, research the exact hex color codes you want. Your overall website aesthetic should ideally stem from your logo.
5. Define Your Typefont
Your font is another important part of your website and your brand. Assuming (again) that this hasn’t been established by your logo or existing branding, get researching! Look beyond Ariel and Times New Roman and find a font that’s suitable for your business. There’s also the option to create a font.
6. Use Other Websites as Inspiration
Look at competitors, industry leaders, and businesses you admire. What are their websites like? Take cues on design, structure, and the visitor funnel. Don’t flat out copy anything, but use them as starting points for color schemes, layout and typefont.
Knowing what you want and having a vision will make it that much easier to work with a web developer – and you’ll be that much happier when you see the initial PSD and final product.