7 Tips for Getting Started with a Website Photo Collage - Showing examples of visual branding assets that are helping when getting started with a website.

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As a small business owner, it can be hard to know where to begin when getting started with a website. If you’re planning to build your website (DIY or with a professional web designer), this is for you. Use these 7 simple steps as a checklist to help you establish a strong foundation and make sure you’re not missing any important steps.

  1. Identify your ideal customer or client.
  2. Have some branding elements.
  3. Get professional photos.
  4. Clearly define your service packages or product categories.
  5. Research platforms.
  6. Get a scheduler.
  7. Consider starting your email list.

Let’s take an in-depth look at why each of these steps are important when getting started with a website.

1. Identify your ideal customer or client

I’m sure you’re sick of hearing this, but it truly is the place to start before you even design your website. Just like with our emails, it’s important to take into consideration who the site is for and how they choose to consume their content.

2. Have some branding elements

If you don’t have a logo or a branded color palette, you have two options. Work with a brand designer to design your brand assets, or look for a web designer that offers branding as part of their design package.

Fonts and typography should be included in your branding. If you have a logo or if you’re getting a new one, make sure you ask the designer what font they used in your design project. You want any text used in your logo to have cohesive look with the rest of your website, so it’s best if you can incorporate the typography into the website design.

3. Get professional photos

You will need branded photos of yourself, your team members, and your products or services in action, at the bare minimum. Plan to have approximately 3-5 images per page of your website. (An average website starts with 5 pages.)

You may want to include a video as well. A video on the homepage has been proven to increase conversion rates. This is optional and advanced, and if you’re just getting started with a website, you may choose to leave this off for now. You should make sure that you’ll have the ability to add this later as you advance though. It’s so good for conversions.

You may want to schedule a photoshoot after you have your branding assets defined. This will give something to work with as far as what to wear and the vibe you want to give off in your photos. You may also choose to incorporate your branding colors in the photographs.

While cropping photos is possible, that more work a web designer (or yourself) has to do, the more time and hence more money it takes. I recommend getting photos in both landscape and portrait style, and additionally have your photographer take some images with a lot of white space. This may feel odd, but it works better for photos if you’re planning on adding text over the top. Otherwise, text over the top can be hard to read.

4. Clearly define your service packages or product categories

This is the area where I see small business owners struggling the most. Their services are often more a menu list in their head, then something they can put into written words. Take the time to clearly map out your service offerings and refine them into categories. It’s best if you can start with just one, but if don’t offer many than four without sorting them into categories first.

For each service or category, you’ll need a clear description of what each is and reasons why website visitors will want to buy. Remember, you’re not standing alongside your website explaining all your offers, your clients will need to be able to determine off of the website copy alone if it’s a good first (at least to start).

For product-based businesses, this can still be tricky. Again, showing all your products at once will overwhelm visitors and they’ll bounce off the site as quickly as they bounced on. Simplify the process for them and sort products into categories for easier navigation.

Again, somebody is going to have to do all the description writing. You can write your own copy, hire a copywriter to do, or look for a web design package that includes copywriting services. Be sure to specify if you’re looking for product descriptions or service sales pages when you’re looking for a web designer.

I highly encourage you to practice writing out at least a brief description for every single product or service you offer. Even if you hire someone to do the writing, they can’t read your mind and will need some background. (If you do find someone who can do this via mindreading, please email their info, thanks!).

5. Research website platforms

Choosing the platform to build your website on is a critical part of the process. I prefer to use WordPress because it’s open-source and by far the most customizable option for website building. Shopify is what I would recommend for physical product-based businesses.

Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly, while limited in some areas, may be able to cover your needs. You should make a list of what you need your website to do first and foremost. Make sure whichever platform you choose can handle that functionality and research web designers that work on the platform.

6. Get a Scheduler

If you’re going to be doing any appointment scheduling or offering group classes, you definitely need to use a scheduler to eliminate the back and forth hassle. Luckily there are a ton of affordable options. Calendly, MeetFox, and Square Appointments are all great options that are also super user-friendly.

But you’ll want to have picked out your platform first, to make sure everything will integrate easily with your new website and your digital calendar. (If in doubt, you can wait until you speak with your web designer, but often times you can get started on these platforms with a free trial.)

7. Consider starting your email list

I always refer to this predicament as “which came first, the chicken or the website?” You don’t have to have a website to start your email list. You can get started with a landing page inside of your email marketing platform. You can start this today, and start collecting email addresses of potential clients while you’re working on building your website.

This is also a good first step when getting started with a website, because you’ll want to come prepared when meeting with a web designer. You should know what your choice of email marketing platform will be and make sure that they include integrating your email marketing provider with your website as part of the web design package. For more on starting your email list

Make sure to download your free copy of my Ultimate Website Planning Workbook below if you haven’t already. The free PDF guide has sections to help you map out the specific pages and content for your website.

Download the Ultimate Website Planning Workbook now

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