You surely know what a website is, but do you know what website design is all about? You often leave it to a website designer to take care of it, don’t you?
You’ve probably heard of domain, template, backend, code, html, internal link, below the fold and other such jargon. I know that it all sounds scary and seems impossible to nail down. This is exactly how I felt years back and when I had to design my very first website; I felt I had no choice but to give up on this technical front.
However, I realized that the process is much easier, smoother and more enjoyable when you understand what the other person is talking about. So, I’d like to give you a few tips to help you understand what it is all about, in case you don’t know where to begin.
Let’s say you have a company or a project and you want people – your ideal audience and hopefully your future customers – to find you online. A website is how you introduce yourself to the world, with a summary of your services, your story and portfolio. But before you start the journey into website design, it is important to make a note of what you want to talk about. Sit back, write the first ideas that come to your mind, let them mature, leave them for a while and then go back to them. It is key that you are equipped way in advance and so are able to detach from last-minute deadlines that might affect the preparation for your new website.
Designing a website is all about offering your perspective and organizing your ideas in a way that your message flows and your audience understands what you have to offer and where they can find the information on your website. That being said, make sure that you have the following:
A domain name
Easy to read and remember and related to your brand/services. It is an excellent exercise to brainstorm about your project/company and test the various options with friends around you. Your domain name is here to stay so choose wisely. Think of a name with a story to tell, a means to open a conversation. When it comes to buying a domain name or hosting the website on a specific server, your website designer will advise you on faster and more reliable options.
A logo with or without a tagline
If someone asks you, “What do you do?” how can you answer in around 3-5 words? Think about it. This will help when adding a summary/brief on the homepage or landing page — a page that serves as the point of entry to your website. Think of the welcome message from an engaging website. Visitors might not immediately understand the purpose of your website unless it is very clear within the first few seconds of entering your site.
There are colors that you like as a person and ones you want people to identify with your brand. Sometimes they are the same, especially when it comes to personal branding. At the end of the day, in my honest opinion, pick colors that you like. After all it is your website and the closer the website is to you, the more people will connect to you in an authentic way.
I am a fan of fonts. I just love playing with them and their endless combinations. I always recommend that my clients pick 2 fonts — 1 for the header and another for the body text. Take one sentence and try it with different colours. Save the one combination you like.
Start writing down everything that comes to mind and draw or build the template the way you imagine it. The website menu will help showcase and organize your vision. It will serve as a logical roadmap for your customers. Also, it will help the website designer to start the mockups in a much more structured way. And do not forget to write SEO optimized content.
This might seem overwhelming but your website designer will tell you what you need to have on your website. It really depends on your objectives and what you want to present to your clients.
The basic ones are: your contact information, social media integration to trigger engagement and grow your followers, security and SSL certificate, mobile-friendly version, online chat feature, anti-spam feature, a blog, call-to-action, reviews or testimonials, internal links, footer, sitemap, Skype call button, Google Analytics integration, Google Search console, copyright-free pictures, newsletter signup, site caching, fast page loading, and FAQ or search button. It all depends on what you are trying to achieve so think user experience and giving people what they need as quickly as possible. You need to anticipate what your customers may be looking for or the answers to the questions that they may have. SEO is also a key element. You could refer to the article I have written regarding the best SEO practices.
Pick one person and imagine that person to be your ideal customer. What would they like to find on your website? What is useful? What would help them and what will convert? You will then design the website around them.
Your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person – a real person you know, or an imagined person – and write to that one.
These are only the first steps in website design. To know more, read our article on the 10 things to consider when designing a website. Keeping all this in mind will ease the process and the website designer will really appreciate the clarity in your thought process. Website design is not only about backend and coding. It is all about creativity and sharing a different vision; something you may not have thought about.
So before you approach someone for your website, start gathering everything, note down, paint, draw, take screenshots, gather magazines, everything you like and dislike, anything visual that talks to you. It will help your website designer to get to know you and understand what you want. I believe that it should be the client on one side, and the designer on the other. Designing a website is a great adventure; it should be exciting, fun and creative. After all, this is your chance to tell the world about you, and the amazing things you can do.
At Them You & Me, we are passionate about website design, creativity, visual branding and writing. Reach out to us if you are looking for someone to guide you each step of the way. Together, we will design the website you’ve always dreamed of.