It doesn’t matter if you plan to DIY your website or hire someone else to build it for you, there are some elements you need to have in place before getting started.
As a web developer myself, this is a list that I like to send my clients before we ever get started.
1. Impactful Images
Can you even think of a site that doesn’t use images? We are bombarded with imagery and videos everywhere we look so it’s important to be smart about what images you use on your website. The best images illustrate and reinforce your copy. And if you are selling products, great product photography will almost sell your items itself.
How Do You Get Photography?
Stock Photography: There are many free and paid stock photography options with hundreds of thousands of photos available. Free stock photography doesn’t give you many options but is a good place to start if you don’t have the money to invest right away.
Free Stock Sites
Paid Stock Photograph
Paid stock sites vary in cost and sometimes have packages available. I recommend staying loyal to one site for the ease of keeping your downloads in one place and getting a better price per image.
I don’t recommend using stock images of people. You just always know when the image you are looking at is a stock photo and often comes across as cheesy. It takes a lot of hunting to find decent photos of people.
Do a Brand Photoshoot: Using your own photography is almost always the better way to go. You won’t need to worry about licensing or other sites having the same photos. Your site will feel authentic to your brand. And don’t forget employee headshots for the About Us page!
However, if your photos are not high enough quality or fall flat, opting for stock is always a backup.
2. The Definition of Your Ideal Customer
Or rather, who are you building this website for? Who are you selling to? What kinds of people do you want to work with? Defining your ideal customer is a large piece of your content creation since you don’t want to blindly write website copy. Keep the following in mind for developing the persona of your ideal customer:
- What’s the general demographic of your customer? Age? Gender? Education background? Ethnicity?
- How does your product or service solve a problem that your ideal customer is having?
Having answers to these questions will help you narrow in on your messaging and overall layout design. Marketing to a 20-something male college graduate is going to look very different than marketing to a 40-something single mom with 2 kids.
3. A Compelling Call-to-Action
When a visitor goes to your site, what do you want them to do? Go to the shop page? Book a call with you? Sign a petition? Your website exists because you want potential clients or customers to DO something and you need to determine what that action is. Your homepage will cater towards getting your customer to take this defined action.
4. Copy & Content
Great website design is driven by great website content. Now that you have a clear ideal customer to target, your copy will focus on getting them to take that first step of completing your call to action.
You know your company and product better than anyone. Sometimes that actually makes it more difficult to write your own content, but if you just talk about the problem you solve it will make your life easier. Answer these questions:
- What is the problem (realistically and physiologically) your customer is facing?
- How does your product or service solve their problem?
- How will their life be better after purchase your product?
- What will happen if they don’t purchase your product?
The answers to these questions will create a script for you to follow as you create copy for your website.
5. A Display of Authority
Your customers will buy from you when they trust you and it’s hard to build trust without showing authority in your industry. So how do you display authority on your website?
Well, do you have impressive statistics for your company? How many clients have you helped in the past year? How many products have you sold with 5 stars reviews? Think about different numbers and stats that prove track record of excellence.
Testimonials are another great way to show authority on your website. It allows visitors to hear what other verified shoppers or clients have to say about your business.
If you are a service-based business, displaying the logos of other companies you have work with helps convince a potential customer that other businesses have trusted you.
These five items create the foundation of your website. Having all these pieces in place before you ever get started will prevent any issues in completing you project on time! Take the time to really narrow in your brand messaging so all of these parts mesh together in the final product. Happy building!