With Halloween rolling in next week, you have the perfect excuse to scare the hell out of yourself by building a website.
Is it enough to make your head spin 360 degrees and speak in tongues? Absolutely not. It’s not nearly as bad as it seems if you have a plan.
So, send the zombies back to the grave, put away the garlic necklace, and let’s go through the steps for successfully building a website.
Steps to Building A Website
- Why? What is the purpose of your website? Because someone told me I need to build a website is not an answer, by the way.
Are you trying to sell something online? Drawing customers to your brick and mortar business? Sharing your experiences? Creating a gallery of your work? There are so many reasons to build a site, and most of them are totally valid, but the first step is identifying what your “WHY” is so you can start off the journey going the right direction.
- Draw out your Map. Just like every journey starts with a plan, so does every website project.
Just like creating an outline for an essay in high school, creating a site map gives you a structure for your content that you’re filling in. First, identify the key sections of your website by listing the name of each page. These usually become your menu structure. Here at The WholeSum Agency, we suggest that you keep the list short and simple. Here’s a great place to start: Home, About, Services or Products, Blog, and Contact. There are few times that we recommend having any more than 7 main menu choices, and usually 5 is enough.
- Build Content. Once you’ve identified your page titles (sitemap), now you can start constructing what the content is for each page.
The biggest mistake you can make is trying to tackle all of it at once. First you’ll get completely overwhelmed and either cry a bit or just give up, or the second option is your content will likely be unfocused and somewhat blended in focus. The way we attack content for our clients is to ask key questions, answer them, and then build the content from those answers. For example, here are some questions you can ask yourself to build out content for a home page:
- What do I do?
- Why does it matter?
- How is it different from what other people are doing?
- How is it familiar to to my audience?
- Do I have something to give that’s free to get visitors to want more or go deeper?
- What’s the best way to eat an elephant? One bite at a time… Writing copy is the part that almost everyone dreads, especially when we’re writing about ourselves. Even this post is a little daunting for me and we create content! Here’s how to go about it, though: Pull out your sitemap, look at your questions and answers that you asked and answered in the last step, and write one paragraph at a time. One bite at a time…before you know it you’ll have enough copy to make pages look complete, and we always say that a website is never more than 80% complete; it’s not a brochure, it is a living, breathing monster and is built to grow and be edited as much as you can. A good target to shoot for is three to five paragraphs per page.
- SEO and Copywriting. Once you’ve built out your base content, it’s always a good idea to get it in front of the two-headed being we call, “an SEO copywriter” (one who writes for the web). This is the person who can take your base content and not only edit it to sound better, but also has the chops and experience to know how to format the content to capitalize on relevant keywords and page structure to make your page more attractive to the Search Engines.
- Find Photos that Inspire You: Now comes the fun part of building a website!
If you have the ideal situation, you’ll hire a photographer who can custom shoot all the photos of the staff, the inside and outside of your business, some lifestyle shots in all seasons…oh wait, not many of us have that kind of budget. No worries – we don’t have that kind of budget either. Stock photos are great most of the time, especially if they are paired with some custom photography. Our first choice for professional, genuine photos that are royalty free – yes, you heard it right – royalty free is Unsplash. The images here are submitted by photographers all over the world, vetted for quality before they hit the site, and are original. If you can’t find what you’re looking for there, look at Pexels their images are more “stock photo” in appearance but they do have a better range of options and are still free. In the paid arena there are tons of options and most of them are pretty equal in choice. Make sure that your photos are either royalty free or you’ve paid to use them as non-compliance with this rule can end up costing you a bunch of money in the end. One place to invest in custom photography is for your “About” page. If you have a team, they should be pictured – either in a group or individually (or both). If you work solo, you need a pic of yourself (professional or from your phone) that shows a relaxed and confident demeanor. Depending on your brand, lifestyle shots are great as they show you’re more than just your headshot or your job.
- Hire a Web Designer that Works for You. You did it! You’ve got the building blocks to build a website. Congrats! Unless you have design or coding experience, you’ll likely want to hire a professional to design and style and create your site for you. There are several DIY site builders out there that have great templates to fill in, but if you want something that’s truly custom and yours, we do recommend hiring a professional. With the base of content that you have already put together, creating a website your site should not be outrageously expensive to have built out. The days of basic sites costing $10,000 or more are long gone. The main thing is working with someone you trust to have your best interests in mind, has the experience and know-how to do the job right the first time, and can bring your vision and personality to the web.
There you go! Building a website wasn’t so bad, was it!
You now have the ingredients to concoct a magical website that you won’t be cursing every time you think about it. Have questions – Let us know by Contacting Us.