January 31, 2018
Wait..Before You DIY that Website
Not everyone can dish out $2,000 for a custom website, some have to roll up their sleeves and do it themselves. This post is to help those “do it yourself” professionals get started with the first steps of building your website.
Once you have secured your website host, domain and hosted email (if not, read this), your next step is to plan out your website. Now I’m not saying to pull out pencil and paper and draw out what you want your website to look like. No, I’m talking about actually planning your website: the purpose of your website. who your website targets and what information you want your website to showcase. Most times, when your building your website the first thing that crosses your mind is what it will look like. While that is also important, you have skipped over some very important aspects of your website and you will notice after the design is completed it’s still a lot of work to be done.
Preparing the groundwork for your website makes the entire process easier, let’s get started planning your website foundation.
What is the purpose of your website?
This may seem like a pretty stupid question but hear me out first. When building your website you will have multiple goals but you will have one purpose. That purpose could be to sell your services or products or to educate through your blog, your website can also have a dual purpose. As an example, the website of Jess the Techpreneur is to showcase my portfolio of services while educating non-techie entrepreneurs through a comprehensive blog and courses.
You have to think about your website as a company employee, it is marketing your services + products + blog 24/7.
When you are sleeping, your website is working. When you’re out of town, at your child’s holiday program or even when you are working with a client your potential customers and clients are viewing your website learning about you and your business. It’s always working now the question is: Is it working against you or with you?
Narrowing down on the purpose of your website helps you set the foundation for a successful website. Take 5 mins and think about why you want a website, what is it helping to achieve?
What are the goals of your website?
Now that you have your purpose out the way, what are the goals of your website?. Unlike your overall purpose, you can have multiple goals for your website. Your website goals can be broken down, the overall goal of your website may be to secure discovery calls. This can be your websites main CTA or call to action, this can go in your website footer or header, so it becomes the first thing your website visitors see and the last thing when the scroll to the bottom of the page this helps convert your website visitors. You may also have a goal to get your website visitors to submit their email address in order to end up on your email list, you can achieve this by having an exit intent popup. This will ensure that your visitor’s experience wasn’t compromised by showing a pop up while they were scrolling.
When you determine the goals for your website, you figure out exactly what you need to add to your website to ensure that your goals are met. It also serves a dual purpose, since you have your goals listed you can add them straight to your analytics and AdWords accounts.
Who is your website targeting?
Equipped with your goals and the purpose of your website, the next task is figuring out who your target audience is. Your target audience is extremely important when building your website. If you do not have your target audience together, then you will find a point where you aren’t getting any sales and stuck with creating content for your audience.
You can have more than one target audience avatar, most businesses have around 2 to 4. This helps by laying out exactly what each avatar needs and what they may be searching for so you can provide the information they need thus making your conversion rate better and of course more sales. If you ideal avatar isn’t finding your website, it can create a decline in sales and traffic. When building your website you have to be mindful of your target audience that means: your copy needs to be targeted to your audience, your images should appeal to your audience, brand colors/ fonts, and your brand voice.
If one of your target audience avatars is a college student, your brand and copywriting should appeal to them. If your website is designed for agencies and professionals that college student may never convert.
Now its time to structure your website
Finishing up the planning of your website, you have to know what information is going on your website. On your website, there are some essential pages that you should have: Homepage, About page + Contact page. This gives the absolute basics to your website visitors; who you are, what you offer and how to contact you.
If you have nothing ready for your website then definitely think about starting with those, your home page can be used to show the services you provide, a small section about what they can expect and a email signup. It doesn’t have to be a long drawn out thing but it should give the needed information.
As you grow your website, you can add to it and expand it into what you need. You don’t have to start huge and struggle to fill it in, using the goals for your website you will see what you need now but always think ahead.
E-commerce stores or online shops need to have a return and exchange policy on their website, this lets your customers know what to expect and what to do if they have an issue with an order or product. Outline everything; if you accept returns let them know. If you don’t let them know. The last thing you want to happen is to not have a policy in place and you end up losing money because of it.
Listing out what pages are needed on your website to cover your services, products and contact information helps you not skip over any of the important information that needs to go on your website.
Last, Build your workflow
How will your customer get from A to B? If you are an e-commerce store, you need to have a cart page possibly with upsells, checkout page and order confirmation page. This varies for businesses that provide services, they may need additional pages for scheduling. Think about the steps your potential customer needs to take in order to convert to the intended goal, think about how they will pay for your services. Every step in your process should be covered so that there are no breaks in your funnel.
After you pave the groundwork for your website, once you get started building your website it will be easier than starting with no vision.
Hope this helped you get started on your DIY website!
Also published on Medium.