12 Steps for a New Website – #9 is The Best
Use these 12 steps for a new website project and please don’t do as I did. I did everything wrong but learned plus documented my steps. Yes, I was a big fat failure as my own website designer. Ever feel like a failure and overwhelmed as a business owner? Uh, yeah. But who wants to admit it? I am.
My Website Confession
Bless me father, for I have sinned. It’s been a few years that I updated my website, father. Okay, so this is what my confession would have sounded like had I confessed to the priest, but that’s a different story and that would have been a long time ago.
The truth is – YES – my WordPress website was totally outdated and I am (confession) a WordPress Web Designer. Heck half of the blog posts and half of my pages were not even relevant to what I do now. I tried to stay focused and not get overwhelmed so I could create my new site. And it was the slowest process. I even thought about hiring it out and what a pleasure that would have been! Maybe I’d really get it done. But that would be super embarrassing as a Web Designer, wouldn’t it? And I am so darn particular, it would not have worked. I know what I want.
Business Owner Overwhelm
And I know that as a business owner, it’s the hardest thing to do for ourselves: our marketing, branding, blogging, content creation, website project management and those fun things like accounting, billing balancing the bank account, etc. And how about networking in person and online? Now that is a lot of fun for me, but it takes time and follow-up to nurture those relationships.
While creating my newest website, I was in awe as to how relatively quickly I created my old websites. This new site was a lot more work and over the years, I had accumulated a lot of posts and pages. I created a detailed project list of everything that needed to be done weekly. But I wondered if would I ever launch the site. Could I get it all done? Ever feel like this? What can you do if you are trying to create a new site?
Here’s are the steps for a new website that you can fill out in one sitting at least in rough draft. You’ll have a start to the 12 steps for a new website. Won’t that feel good?
1. Why are You Building Your Website?
What do you want to accomplish? Yeah, we’ve heard this one before, but you need to be clear about what you want out of your website in order to build it. Ever heard of building a home without a plan? And while you’re in the middle of figuring this out, do you know your “WHY” – why are you in business, what makes you different and who are your customers? Here’s a great Ted Talk by Simon Sinek on finding your WHY for your business and his book at Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action.
2. What Website Platform Should You Use?
And if this is too technical, how do you want your website to function? Do you need to have control after it is launched and update it on the fly? Or do you have an in-house tech person that can help you? Is it a business card website that you will rarely update? Do you need a shopping cart? What SEO (search engine optimization) capabilities do you want it to have? And if you’re not sure, do some Googling (that’s a word in Urban Dictionary) and get educated. Or talk to a web design company. Compare different platforms such as WordPress.com, Wix, SquareSpace, Shopify and self-hosted WordPress – only a few of the options that are available. They all have positives and negatives. Your choice depends on what you need a website to do for you/your company.
3. Go Window Shopping
Love virtual shopping or getting lost online? Well, how about having some fun and looking at websites you like to get ideas? No don’t copy them, get inspired by other sites – especially if it’s in a different industry. This is a super fun step because you’ll look at beautiful colors and websites, oh and some that you don’t like. Keep a list of links or take screen shots of the different things you like. You’ll get your creative juices going and find inspiration.
4. What the Heck is Your Web Design Budget?
So important: how much do you want to spend? It’s important to know this up front. If you are hiring a web design firm, you’ll know whether you’re a good fit as a customer based on pricing. If you’re doing it yourself, how can you get educated to create your own? Or are some platforms easier to work on yourself? Did you know that a lot of libraries have free educational videos for web design? Or you can use Lynda.com or and a LOT of WordPress training resources, Will ya do it or get overwhelmed and get a tech-ache? Then budget and hire a designer/developer.
What the heck is your web design budget? It’s important to know this up front.Click To Tweet
5. What are Your Website Colors?
Orange and blue seem to be popular in Denver. Hmm, I wonder why. But more importantly, what are the colors that want to use and have you thought of what they represent? Here are a couple of color theory articles: Color Theory for Designers and Color Website Palette. The final decision is yours, but learning about color is important. Use Coolors for different ideas and to create your own color palette. The colors below are my color palette from Coolers. It’s so cool. You can create different shades of color on the fly.
Look at Coolors for different ideas and to create your own color palette. h2>
What colors do you want for your website and do you know what they represent?Click To Tweet
Years ago I asked a customer about their pictures and he went to Google and found some. Uh, no. Bad idea. We couldn’t use them unless he and I wanted to get into copyright law trouble – and I don’t. Make sure your pictures are licensed for commercial use and that the quality is well – perfection. Don’t stretch any images you have just to make them fit or you’ll look like a total rookie. And you don’t want that as it represents the quality of work that you do – even if your work is stellar. Those bad images make your company look bad.
7. Your Logo
Are you re-branding or using the same logo or do you need a new logo? Yes, there are so many design companies that can create your logo or you can even purchase one that is somewhat ready-made, but remember this is your brand and one of the most important things (besides your website) that you need. It represents who you are and sometimes an inexpensive logo is just not going to do it. I always like simple, but I’ve certainly worked with customers that wanted too many elements for my taste. Ask your peeps their opinion. Look around. Make sure you spend some money here – it’s one of the most important investments (have I said that enough?). Oh and make sure you have it in different formats such as PDF, PNG, JPG and a variety of sizes.
8. Decide on Website Structure and Pages
What main pages will you have? Main pages can include Home, About, Blog, Contact, Services, Testimonials, Portfolio, etc. Do you need any pages that relate to the main navigation pages? How will your main and secondary pages be linked to each other? Will you add them to the navigation? Do you need a drop-down menu or a mega-menu (stay away from them when possible)? What items will you need on a home page? Do you need any landing pages to capture info by giving something away?
9. The Almighty Content or Copywriting 101
This one is my favorite of the steps for a new website project. Will you write your own content or pages for your website? Do you already have them? Do they need to be tweaked? Are they all about you (who cares?) or do you have them written so that the benefits of doing business with your company are explained? Make it all about your customer, not about how great you/your company are/is.
Writing is not easy when you are writing about your own company as you see it from the inside. So, this is where the WHY of your business that we spoke about above can come in pretty darn handy. Many people get overwhelmed when it comes to writing – rightfully so. We are not all GREAT writers. So, if you need to hire it out, make sure you get interviewed or give your copywriter LOTS of material to work with. I LOVE getting people and company’s stories out as an outsider looking in, I am able to capture the voice and the heart of the company and that is super fun. I can make you/them sound better than you/they can and simplify the messages without getting using industry acronyms. Yeah, but give it back to me and my company and it gets a harder to expound my accomplishments and services.
Writing is not easy when you are writing about your own company as you see it from the inside. h2>
10. Keywords and Keyword Phrases Strategy
Is it important to know what keywords you want your company to rank for? Well, yes and you can create your keyword strategy to begin with or come back and optimize your website later or both. If you do this first, you can build your website structure with the main keywords in mind and use secondary keywords to link back to your main “keyword” pages – it depends on the structure you decide to go with. And I can tell you as a designer, that this may slow down the project. Pick keywords that your customers are searching for when they need your services. But think about providing good, helpful content. Not only sales related content or it could be a waste of time.
Write natural and don’t pay attention whether you’ll rank for the keyword or not. You can redo your content/blog post after to make sure your keyword density is acceptable. h2>
Write natural and don’t pay attention whether you’ll rank for the keyword or not. Although you can certainly come back and redo some of your content/blog post after to make sure your keyword density is acceptable. And if you are using the Yoast SEO plugin for SEO, it’ll do a lot of the work for you as far as noting where you need to improve your writing.
11. SEO or the Search Engine Optimization Biggest Myth
Oh, the overused buzzword – search engine optimization. I can get you ranked on page 1 of search engines – no problem. Just pay me lots of cash so that you look like a SUCKER. Yes, I’ve been taken and I looked like that sucker in a former business – and I purchased the “guarantee” from a “reputable” major company: top 10 of some obscure search engines I’d never heard of. The MOST important type of SEO is holistic and there are no tricks or shortcuts. And this subject is extensive, so I’ll have to do a complete post in the future. So of all the steps for a new website, SEO is critical, but there is a lot to do.
According to Yoast, you should:
- have good technical SEO
- a good user experience (UX),
- write good (helpful) content that you spread on social media
- make sure your site is secure
That’s a lot to do. It’s not just putting up useless low-quality articles that don’t matter because you heard along the way that blogging was the best way to get traffic. Depends on the blogging. And if people are visiting your site and immediately leaving, then you will get dinged. So, your user experience has to be good. That means that visitors to your site stay there and find what they are looking for.
And yes, I am certified by Yoast if you need long-term strategy help – oops shameless promotion.
12. Social Media Platforms
What social media platforms should you be on or are currently on? How is it working? Should you look at other avenues? What kind of product/service do you have? How should you be interacting with your potential audience and what have you done? How can you connect your blog or website to the different social media platforms? What can be put in place to easily share your blog? Or how can prospects that land on your website share your content? How are you gauging your success? Do you have your analytics set up? So, this step involved a lot of different things as well, but I bet you have some of this already set up and can just do some tweaks to your process.
It’s not easy. I know it but these 12 steps for a new website are vital for a successful website project. And by the way, you should have some questions for your web designer should you decide to hire out our website project.
Create your website the EASY way? Learn from my colossal lack of focus (okay, so I did have a very good excuse – I promise) and get clarity on your new website project. Book a 20-minute FREE strategy session to review your site/plan. You’ll learn valuable insight to improve your site.