Are you a small business ? A solo-prenuer? A creative looking to sell your wares? Then you’re most likely going to need, and quite honestly you should want, a website. And one that looks + functions well at that. If you’re reading this and already have a website – then maybe it’s time for a refresh. Here are some things to consider while you’re dreaming about your shiny new site and some things to remind the person who actually ends up creating it for you (unless you end up creating it yourself and in that case read this post and then treat yourself to a bottle of wine).
Beware – I can get pretty real at times. 👌
Start by asking yourself questions.
Begin this whole new website process by thinking about why you want a website in the first place. Do you like how they look? Maybe because it’s the cool new thing to do – and everyone else has one?
Or think about why your website needs a refresh. What about your current site just isn’t working for you?
Then axe those thoughts and figure out the problem that your website needs to be solving. TO be clear: your website needs to solve a problem, otherwise you don’t need a website.
Does it need to sell things? How much do you plan on selling or want to be selling? Is it purely informational? What information do people need to gain from it? Is it a service that’s going to help others in some way? How will it help others?
Lastly, figure out the logistics of what your website will actually need. Does it need a shop portion? That’s an eCommerce addition. Do you want to manage the content and update the website often? You’ll need a CMS (content management system), something like WordPress. Do you want people to contact you directly through your website? You’ll need a form. Do you want to track how many visitors are stopping by your site? Be sure to set up Google Analytics or Jetpack (if using WordPress).
Ask yourself the essential questions. Be rational. Plan it out.
Figure out a budget but don’t be cheap.
If you want your website to solve the problems you need it to solve – you’re going to have to spend money on it. I’ll say right now, $500 is not going to be enough. Look at your website as an investment.
When you’re shopping for a new car, do you buy the cheapest one you find on Craigslist? If you do I just gave you a *high five* for your money saving skills. Fun fact: my car cost $800, I’ve had it for almost 5 years, pretty much everything has busted at one point, the check engine light has been on for 6 months and I’m still driving it. I really am saving for a new one – but again, I’m not shopping for the cheapest on Craigslist this time because, I’m an adult. And I want something that is going to work properly, without little to no flaws, as it should.
If investments aren’t totally your thing, think of your website as an employee! It’s one of your main ways of communication with potential customers and you want it to appear as put together as possible – sure, it can have tattoos and nose rings 🙋, but it still has to know the in’s and out’s of your business.
The less you spend, the less quality you get.
Want to talk more about pricing? Feel free to send me an email and I’d be happy to give you an honest, yet reasonable estimate for what you’re looking for.
Use design to your advantage and be picky.
I’m an advocate of good design. And I’ll be honest – if your website doesn’t look good, I’m leaving. If your website functions weird or doesn’t work on my phone, I’m leaving. If half of your links are broken or your site has misspellings, I’m leaving (but not after I write you an email about it). Some misspellings are understandable, I always have to triple check my “your” and “you’re” ‘s and I still probably miss some. But still.
Work with someone who can create a website tailored specifically to you and someone who cares about the details. Their business should be helping you grow your business. They should want to create something amazing that looks and feels like your brand and they should be proud to show it as their own.
A designer / developer should be able to craft a web experience for you that’s as unique as your finger print. And if they can’t – I suggest moving on.
If you don’t have it in your budget to work with a great designer / developer, use a service like SquareSpace. You’ll get a great looking website for a low price – that will function well. However, you may not be able to add some of the functionality you’ve been dreaming of and please beware, your website may end up looking like someone else’s. Also… by using a template service like SquareSpace you’re taking a job away from a qualified and capable web designer / developer… just sayin’.
Don’t forget to consider photography. Beautiful photography captures users and keeps them on your site. Fun fact: photos with people in them are the best to use. As humans, we resonate with other humans. When we see someone else using your products, we will want to use them more. “Those shoes look amazing on her, they’ll look great on me too!” “That person looks so happy drinking that coffee, I’m going to go have some coffee.” “There’s a dog in that car, I need that car.”
Well maybe not that last one… we’ve been trying to adopt a dog for a little while and whenever I see one in a car I just want to be in that car, you know?
Find a designer that can do the photography for you – or at least can point you in the right direction of someone who can. A lot of designers have networks full of contractors that they can contact in order to complete pieces of a project that they simply can’t. Most times it will be included within your upfront price. We like to make it easy on you – I promise.
This is SO important. Do not forget about how your website looks and functions on mobile devices. Responsive design is basically taking your website (what it looks like on your desktop computer) and making it respond properly to any other devices your site may be viewed on. That means tablets, phones, etc.
Why is this so important? Almost 80% of people view websites on mobile devices – not on their desktops. How many potential customers are you missing out on by not having a website that they can browse on their iPhones or iPads?
And how frustrating is it to go to a website on your phone that isn’t responsive? I don’t have time to pinch and zoom and still struggle to see your content and navigate through your site.
Familiarize yourself with the world wide web.
Don’t be fooled by folks who tell you that you need 10 different things in order for your website to exist online. You don’t. And don’t end up buying a domain from one company and a hosting package from another. It’s a headache and far too many passwords that you’ll probably end up forgetting (if you’re like me 💁 ). Keep it simple, use one service.
What you actually need for your website to exist online:
- Domain Name (www.yourwebsite.com)
- Hosting / Server (space on the web – it’s not free unfortunately)
Again, I highly recommend using a provider that offers both. And most places do. Do a little research and see what works best for your budget. I use and recommend MediaTemple. Not only is their website clean and easy to use, their customer service is amazing – which is a big deal if your website mysteriously disappears.
A lot of developers or design agencies will offering hosting / website packages, where they will take care of all this logistical nerdy stuff for you. It’s magical.✨ You just pay a small yearly fee and your website runs smoothly without any legwork on your end. Just how it should be.
If you know the problem your website should be solving and know a little bit about what you want and need – getting a website is easy, once you find a good web designer / developer to work with. They should be transparent. Ask questions! You’re not going to get tricked into spending hundreds of dollars on something that isn’t exactly what you want. No way! You and your business deserve a beautiful, well functioning website that will get you sales, visitors and the occasional compliment. 💕
I’ve been building websites (both designing and developing) since I was a Sophomore in high school – so, 8ish years. I love to do it, it’s my nerdy outlet. It’s also a core part of my business at The Curio Company. I hope my knowledge can assist you in some way on your website journey! If you’re interested in working with me – I’d absolutely love to hear any questions you have and help you craft the website of your dreams. Feel free to send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or leave a comment.
Happy Monday friends, let’s make this week awesome!