Good preparation will help your website project move faster and meets the deadline. In many cases, website owners tend to underestimate the complexity of web design which not only requires copy and images, but also a well-drafted site plan – what purpose would you like your website to fulfil:
if you’re offering a service you need to write a handful of work portfolios to showcase your expertise
if you want potential customers to choose you over hundreds of other competitors, you need to showcase your niche – the advantage you have over others
if a customer is looking for a validation on your website before they could pick up the phone and ring you, they want to hear the reviews about your services. In such a case, you need to prepare for reviews or testimonials
The list goes on, you see the challenge is not just building a website but rather building a website to support the growth of your business! To help business owners better prepare for their website projects, we put together of a prep list to cover the majority of the materials needed from your end, to complete a web project.
1. Register Domain
Register your domain before starting any other business plan such as business name, cards, brochures, etc. If you already have a registered domain, prepare domain register login for your developer.
2. Business Contact
It’s a good idea to get all the contact info sorted before the start of a web project, such as:
Phone (Landline or 1300, 1800 number)
Email addresses (we highly recommend using G Suite)
3. Branding Guidelines
Branding guidelines or style guide dictate the look and feel of your entire website. Two of the main elements needed before a website project starts are: fonts and colours.
Choose the colours and fonts to best represent your business, with a rule of thumb of having maximum three colours and two font types. A good idea is to do your own research, have a few options in mind then consult your designers and developers before making the final decision. Remember less is more!
Other than that, you should also consider things such as:
the keywords to best describe your business, so they can be used as a generic style guideline.
a specific writing style.
the overall tonality of your website graphics such as headers, hero, banners, and background images.
whether another brand identifies are allowed to appear in your graphics.
any dressing code should be considered in your graphics.
the font size of each heading (h1 – h5) and paragraph
line height of each heading and paragraph
4. Logo Design
If you’re a local business, it’s better to look for a local designer to design your logo and business cards. Keep it local means if there’s any further design work down the track, it’s easier to work with the same designer since he/she usually keep a design portfolio of your business. Overseas designers can be difficult to work with in terms of briefing and revisions, which will end up cost you more than what you should pay for. Once logo design is finalised, make sure you have three different image format ready for your developer: JPG, PNG and SVG. A recommended minimum size required for a logo is 600×600 in pixel. So keep this in your logo design briefing.
Bad images only do one thing well – keep customers out of your door. So take photography seriously and allocate a realistic budget for it. Your portfolio images will be one of the main factors drive new businesses, so hire a professional photographer for the job. Here are some useful photography tips from a web design point of view that you might want to communicate with your photographer:
avoid using large aperture unless for employee profile photos, small aperture tells more stories, so people can learn more about your business.
use panorama instead of wide angle lenses if there are no moving objects involved, wide angle lenses have heavy distortion which makes the image looks unrealistic.
keep in mind web banners are very short and wide, so make sure your main objects stay in the banner even after cropping, this is another reason why panorama is recommended. Out of all the design issues we’ve faced in the past, this is by far the most frustrating one web designers facing when it comes to using a professional photographer for shooting website banners – many of their photos simply not wide enough for cropping.
try using the same lenses, camera settings and lighting conditions for each portfolio shoot.
blurry images can be fantastic for background images since they are less distractive which makes your call to actions stands out better, so keep it your photo shoot plan and take a couple interesting blurry images.
Once you have all the photos needed, meet with your web designer/developer to discuss which photos to be used for each web page, then ask for the exact dimension of how each photos should be cropped. Once you have the specs, give them to your designer so he/she can start post processing and make the banners ready for the web.
6. Copy Writing
Most business owners prefer to write the copy themselves because they’re the ones best understand their businesses and they want to accurately communicate their business value to customers. This is fantastic because websites with originality and authenticity work so much better than the cookie cutters. Here are our tips to guide your copywriting:
You need to understand the balance between storytelling and marketing: a storytelling writing style is great for site visitors who’re researching about your business, since the more information you offer, the more confidence they will have when deciding to do business with you; however a website copy writing’s main role is not telling stories but serving as a piece of marketing material. So we suggest you focus on the below factors when planning for your copywriting:
what was the vision when starting your business.
what makes your business unique.
what are your services and what level of service you’re offering, i.e premium, budget or somewhere in between, don’t let your visitors guessing about this.
what type of customers you’re serving, if you’re a regional business, what’s your service area.
what benefits your customers can get from you.
if service packages and pricing is a standard practice of your industry, write down each service packages and support your pricing plans with enough information so your customers can make informed decisions.
do you deliver or offer onsite services, if yes what are the fees and charges?
do you offer a warranty for your services? Specify it clearly if it’s yes as this could be a deal breaker.
what have you achieved.
what do your clients say about you?.
if you’re a business with a team, introduce your talented team members to help building credibility and awareness.
a custom design web form makes your business look professional, so carefully think about what information needed to better address a visitors concern, you should strive for a balance where you’re getting most of the important information required before giving a quote or answering the question, at the same time the form should be kept as simple as possible so visitors can complete it with ease.
Once you have your website copy writing well structured, your focus will be getting those pages written prior to the web project starts. Your bullet points in your draft will then become your headings of each page and you may also want to take notes of which photographs to be used to support your content. Remember the most important thing here is not getting your copy writing 100% perfect, but rather meet your deadline so your web project can be completed within the estimated time frame. Most websites nowadays are built on user friendly CMS which means you can always come back and refine your copy at a later date. Once the site is up running, each time you get a new business, you should also put it in your portfolio to keep it up to date. Fresh content means greater relevance, which not only attracts search engine but also new customers.
7. Testimonials & Reviews
Despite the rapid growing pace of web industry, one thing that keeps coming back is customer reviews. In the old days designers and digital marketers like to take about flat design, immersive design and emotional targeting as ways to dramatically increase website conversion rates, however, nothing beats a ‘detailed and genuine customer review’ when it comes to helping turning online visitors to customers. When we decide to make a purchase decision in front of a computer screen, the thing we need to most is not a fancy design or easy to use web interface, but rather – a validation to convince us the decision is wise, and that validation comes no better than hearing other customers who have already made the same decision which proved to be satisfying.
Therefore, write down a list of previous clients whom you think could fill this job, then pick up the phone and ask them to write you reviews by specifying that the writing should be as details as possible to cover: what’s done, how was the experience when working with you, what’s benefits they’re getting and how likely they would recommend your serviceto others. You should also ask for a profile picture and permissions to display their photos and reviews on your website.
8. Final Review
Website content is designed for users at all levels, to avoid bias you should get it reviewed by a professional copy writer before publish. Any less common terminologies should be further explained to make your content understandable.
To many, a business is a lifetime commitment. It's easy to start one yet difficult to make it successful. Attitude, skills, experiences and dedication help hone the craft along the way, but it's often the great vision and resilience to remain focused wins the game. Read more about me here