You’ve been running a business from home for a little while and now it’s time to get a bit more serious. You need to build a website.
You’ve had enough of the back on forth questions on Facebook, lost order details and answering the same questions over and over again. You want to look more professional, show the world that you’re proud of running a business from home and start taking orders while you sleep (instead of sending out PayPal invoices and dodgy looking links at all hours!).
But the problem is, you have no idea where to start when it comes to building a website.
There is so much information out there that as soon as you start Googling, you get overwhelmed and feel like you’re never going to figure it out.
Confusion leads to overwhelm, which leads to decision fatigue, which leads to another afternoon wasted.
You end up frustrated and convinced that you’ll never be able to get your website sorted. You feel like giving it all up.
I’m here to tell you something. YOU CAN DO THIS.
When I first started trying to build my own website, I felt exactly the same.
I knew to start selling regularly and without so much hassle, I needed a website. But I just didn’t know where to start.
There was nothing out there to tell me what I needed to think about to make my website effective. The technical information was so detailed that it was mind blowing.
Since then, I’ve built dozens of websites for myself and my clients. I’ve made every mistake in the book and Googled every question that you have.
Now I’ve got nearly 10 years experience, I’ve learned a few things.
My biggest lesson? Before you start building your website, you need a plan. Without one, you end up in a muddle. Never ending faffing without any real understanding of what you’re trying to achieve.
Here are 5 things you need to understand before you start to build a website:
Understand the purpose of your website
There’s no point even starting to plan your website unless you know why you need one.
Are you using your website to give information? What part of your business will your website be promoting? What products will you be focussing on?
Every website needs goals – decide on yours before you do anything else.
Understand who you’re talking to
To make sure your website converts, you needs to be speaking in the right way, to the right people.
One of the most important things you need to do before you start to plan your website is get a deep understanding of your ideal customer.
In fact, this is one of the most important things you can do for your business as a whole, and it will have an impact on every part of your marketing mix.
Get clear on your brand identity
Once you’re clear on who you’re speaking to, you’ll need to bring together the visual elements of your business.
Your website visitors need to be clear on who you are, and your brand identity is the first thing they’ll notice, before they even start to read.
Your brand identity includes your logo, colour palette, fonts and images. All of these elements need to work together, to communicate your message to your ideal customer.
Figure out what you’re selling
Whatever it is you’re selling, you need to make it very clear to your website visitors.
If you’re a product business, you will need to refine your collections and split them into categories, to make sure that your customers know exactly what is available.
As a service business, you will need to describe exactly what you do, and perhaps even redesign your services into convenient packages.
If your website visitors can’t figure out what you sell, they won’t be able to buy, and you can’t reach your goals.
Plan the route your visitors will take
Now that you know who you’re talking to and you know what you’re selling, you need to plan how your website visitors are going to move through your website.
You need to make it clear and easy for visitors to understand what you want them to do next.
Website visitors won’t stick around if the purpose of your website isn’t made clear, and you need to show them the way, if you want to reach your goals.
When people first start thinking about building a website, they often go straight into domains and hosting plans.
Although those technical aspects are important, unless you have a plan for your website, you might as well not bother.
A rule I live by is ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’ and this is never more true when it comes to your website.