Having a plan and being prepared for your upcoming website design or redesign is just as important as grabbing the directions before you head out on a road trip. Without directions, your trip will likely take longer, be more stressful, and probably be a lot less fun. Without being prepared for your new website, you’ll be stressed and rushed and your designer/developer won’t be able to get started, which will delay your launch.
As business owners we plan our marketing, sales specials, budgets and more.
As smart business owners, you plan everything.
Planning and prepping for your website is the best and most efficient way to reach your goals, and it will enable your designer/developer to get started and have all the information he/she needs to start building your site.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin
I want to help you succeed.
Here’s a list to help you prepare for your website design or redesign:
- Buy a URL and obtain web hosting: I recommend Blue Host for web hosting. They can also help you get the URL you want. TIP: Pay the extra $ for domain privacy. This helps keep your personal info private and you’ll get less spammers and other annoying marketers!
- Decide on your email address(es): The [your name]@[yourURL.com] addresses. Will you need a general mailbox email address like info@ or help@? Which employees need an email address? Also, decide where each email will be forwarded (i.e. a Gmail account) so that you can set up your new email address(es) within your current main inbox. T
- Choose your colors: Do you have specific colors you use for your brand? If yes, you’ll need the HEX codes. A HEX code looks something like this: #34cbe2. You’ll only want to use 2-3 colors at most to keep your site looking clean and professional. Choose a color for you main text, link color and special heading/accent color. Need help figuring out your HEX codes? Go here, click on the color family you’re looking for and scroll thru the plethora of shades to find the colors you use. If you don’t yet have a brand palette, you can hire me to design your logo, which includes a color palette. You can also check out my Pinterest board to get inspiration.
- Google Fonts:Font are so much fun, but they can also be quite overwhelming. I mean, there are hundreds of thousands of them. Woah! Do you have a font that you use with your brand or one you really like (that’s also easy to read)? If yes, see if it’s a Google Font. You can search for a specific font name, test to see how your text will look in that font and compare different fonts. If you can’t find the font you want here, use the filters to find something that’s close to what you’re looking for. I prefer to use Google Fonts because you can always count on them working (they’re browser friendly), they’re easy to add to a site, and there are a plethora of them that look really nice and professional. Just like colors, you only need 2 or 3 fonts at most. One for your main copy, a headline font and possibly (though not necessary) an accent font for a special area/feature like a button. Need a little font inspiration? Visit my Pinterest board.
- Find your images: This includes your logo, photos of employees, product images, special graphics, etc. All of your images should be high resolution and of professional quality. Only use images that you’ve purchased (and that you can use commercially) or have taken yourself. NEVER use images without permission or without the proper license. That’s a big no-no. Your images and graphics can be in either .jpg or .png formats. If you have vector files for graphics (like your logo) those are best (these file names end in .ai or .eps). You can see some of my favorite places to find images here.
TIP: Organize your images by adding all of your home page images, about page images, etc. into different folders. That will help us both stay very organized!
- Create your web copy: Think about ALL of the pages of your future website. Home, About, Services, FAQs, Contact page, Terms and Conditions…all of them. Every. Single. Page. PLUS your blog posts. Get it all organized and edited. If you need help writing, you might want to hire a professional like Courtney Johnston, Nicole Baute, or Nikki Elledge Brown.
- Ecommerce shop? If you want to sell your digital and/or physical products online, start gathering all of your product descriptions, images, pricing, sizes and any other pertinent info together into a spreadsheet to make it easy to upload/move to your new site.
- Set up a MailChimp account: If you have (or plan to have) an email newsletter (I highly suggest you do), this is the company I recommend. You can set up a free MailChimp account for up to 2,000 subscribers!
- Create an opt-in freebie: This is the item you give away for free when someone signs up for your email list. These are usually pretty PDFs, but you can also give away coupons or something else nice. As long as it’s something that is of value to your visitor and showcases your expertise. Create the copy you’ll need for your freebie, gather any images, and decide what you want to give away (tips, steps, chapter 1 of your new course, a how-to, etc.).
- Google Analytics: Keep track of statistics, visits, and other analytics to assist you in your marketing planning. I set it up so that you can get your day-to-day activity right from your WordPress Dashboard. To set up a Google Analytics account, you first need a gmail email address. Gmail is also the best place (in my opinion) to forward your @yoururl.com email addresses. BONUS: With Gmail, you get access to lots of other cool, helpful tools like Google Webmaster Tools, Google Drive, and more.
- Collect testimonials: Reach out to your clients (if you haven’t already) and ask them if they would kindly provide you with a testimonial. How did they like working with you, how your product or service helped them, etc. Don’t forget to ask for a photo of them as well, because faces add credibility.
- Will you need any forms? A general contact form, a form to collect other information (like a testimonial), survey, etc. What questions do you need to ask on each form?
- Downloads: Will you need clients to download docs or forms to bring with them when they visit you (like a form you take to a first doctor’s visit), etc.? Collect and organize these documents. If they aren’t in PDF form, now’s the time to do that.
- Your passwords: Organize all of the passwords you’ll need to share with your web designer in LastPass. It’s the best way to safely and securely share this important (and highly sensitive) information.
- Social Media: Which social media accounts do you use for your business? Do your ideal clients use and engage with you on these accounts? Think about this. You’ll only want to add social media links/icons to your website if you AND your clients actively use them. If you have a Twitter account but you don’t use it, don’t add it. If you’ve only got 1 or 2, that’s ok. The important part is being active and connecting with your clients. This is where quality, not quantity counts.
- Things no one thinks about:
- Do you want a sidebar? If yes, what do you want in your sidebar. A mini opt-in form? A way to search for content? Affiliate links? A Pinterest feed?
- If you have buttons on your site (buy buttons, opt-in buttons, etc.), what would you like them to say (i.e. “Yes, please!”, “Buy me!”, etc.)?
- Where do you want your opt-in signup(s) to be? Home page, all pages, sidebar, footer only, etc.
- What do you want in your footer? Your Facebook feed, special links to member only pages, association logos, etc.?
Keep this list and use it to help you get organized!
If you’ve already got some of this done, congrats! You’re ahead of the game!
TIP: We all tend to lean towards our own personal preferences, but you’re not doing yourself any favors if your ideal client doesn’t love the same things you do. Stick to your brand personality and do your homework to figure out what your potential clients like, where they hang out, what appeals to them and what kind of vibe you want to portray when planning your website.
By doing your prep work, you’ll not only have a better handle of what’s going on, but you’ll be more helpful to your clients.
If you have a question about any of these steps or think of something else that would be great to add, please let me know below!