Website 101: A Free Guide For My DIY Beginners!
When you're just starting out in business, the sheer idea of building your own website is extremely daunting.
Even as a seasoned veteran of the marketing industry (I've been doing this for 10 years) and as someone who has worked in multiple web development agencies, it took me quite a while to be happy with this website! It's my first iteration of my business website, and WIX is perfect for a small business. Being completely transparent, I'll keep tweaking it until I pay someone to build a custom website for me, but I'm not there yet! Everyone starts somewhere - even industry professionals.
My best piece of advice at this point? Give yourself grace, relax as much as possible, and have fun with it!
As you grow, you may think of more integrations, pages, website needs, and how to pivot the platform to truly become a marketing tool - but in the beginning, you need something that represents you well online. Add in a few forms so people can contact you and voila! You're well on your way to utilizing your first website the way it's intended - to help you get leads!
In this post, we'll cover:
Brand Messaging & Content
Services & Products
You can also download the quick Website 101 Guide below!
Website 101: 4 Key Ingredients
3. User Mindset / User Experience
4. Great Brand Messaging
Building your first website is fun. Yes, I said it.
If you don't feel that way let's take a moment to reframe your mindset, because if you aren't having fun, why do it at all!?
Be patient with yourself. Take it a page at a time. Take breaks if you need to and always remember; when you're just starting out it doesn't have to be absolutely perfect when you launch. You just need a marketing tool that'll help you start.
If you're in need of a little creative inspiration, search the web for websites that you absolutely love. Research others in your space and do a mini SWOT Analysis (analyze their website's strengths and weaknesses; focusing on what you love most about their website and also picking things you definitely don't want in yours).
When you have a great outline for your website i.e. you've chosen the site structure that you want and you've created your pages, think about the mindset of each website user (your Ideal Clients) that will be visiting your new website. Keeping the User Experience (UX) in mind will ensure that no matter where your Ideal Client finds you online, they'll have a great experience and you'll be the business that they remember!
Finally, once you've completed an initial draft of content on each page, go back and visit your Brand Messaging to ensure your marketing messages are on point with what your Ideal Client Avatar needs.
Don't have brand messaging or an Ideal Client Avatar? Download the free Brand Messaging Workbook HERE. You can work with me one-on-one to craft your Ideal Client Avatar (ICA) and understand what your Unique Value Proposition to your ICA will be!
3 & 6 Month Marketing "Retainer" | Marketing Consulting that'll ensure your business' marketing foundation is rock solid
We need to have a great idea of what colors and visual aspects should be included in your brand new website, right? Choosing your brand colors should always come after the first iteration of your Brand Messaging. There's a difference between just choosing your "favorite colors" to represent your Brand and choosing a color pallet that has meaning behind it, represents your Brand Values, and that'll resonate with your ICA.
To start, choose 2-3 main colors and Google "Color Psychology." This will help you ensure that the colors you're choosing will send the right (subconscious or not) message to your ICA!
Next, choose 2-3 supporting colors that blend well with your main colors. Visit coolers.co to help generate different color pallets easily!
Pick your colors and stick with them for this iteration of your brand and website. The beauty of platforms like WIX, Squarespace or Shopify is that they're template sites that are easy to edit. The alternative is building a custom website that could need a full reskin in a matter or years, which can cost thousands of dollars per update.
Keep your colors consistent across all your platforms. From your website, to your newsletters, social media, business cards, letterheads... phew! You get it.
WHY? While your brand colors do help build brand consistency, which helps people remember your brand, GREAT brand consistency goes beyond that. It creates trust.
If you see disjointed branding, it makes you feel like that business might not have their sh*t together. When you do see great branding, it elevates that company in your mind and you know they've put in some serious effort. That makes you feel better about them, the quality of their work, and you feel better about trusting them.
You have to trust a product, service, or business owner before you get your wallet out! You worked HARD for that money, honey!
Brand Messaging & Content
We touched on this briefly a little earlier, but let's take a small dive into what's most important here. If you haven't downloaded your Brand Messaging Workbook, go back and do that so you can see exactly what you need in order to have a great messaging foundation.
The number one, key ingredient for your new website will be simple: spelling, grammar, and marketing copy.
Ensure that you're speaking to your audience (your ICA) the way you'd speak to them in real life. For example, if you're a financial advisor, your tone might be a little more "buttoned up" than if you're a weightlifting coach yelling from one end of the gym to the other.
Be appropriate for you and your audience, but don't be afraid to push boundaries. Go for it!
All you need to do is start. Create a draft and get what's in your head our on paper. Don't worry about anything else. Once you have the soul, or the rock-n-roll of your business out there on paper, edit and ensure messaging consistency
All you need to do is start. Create a draft and get what's in your head our on paper. Don't worry about anything else. Once you have the soul, or the rock-n-roll of your business out there on paper, edit and ensure messaging consistency.
Every website needs to follow a logical "website structure" to create a great experience for the user, aka people who are visiting your website. Site structure can be switched up and customized according to your business needs, however there is a logical structure that we marketers and web designers have conditioned the general public to understand. (If that's not world domination right there, I don't know what is.)
A general site structure (which lives in the site navigation at the top of your website) looks like:
- Home Page
- About Page
- Services Page / Products
- Testimonials (also can be sprinkled on various website, sales, or landing pages)
- Contact Page
Ultimately, you'll decide the site structure for your website and also if you need to add additional pages. Just make sure that you don't completely reinvent the wheel, otherwise you'll confuse your website visitors (who are your Ideal Clients) and lower the overall User Experience!
Pro Tip: Items above in bold denote "parent pages." Any sub pages that you might create, like a Philosophy page under About is called a "child page!"
Home & About Pages
There are 6 main home page ingredients to consider adding to your website's home page:
- Banner Image
- Short About/Bio: links to your About page
- Intro to Services/Products: link to your Services/Products
- Contact Call to Action: can link to your Contact Page or a form
- Social Media Accounts: always ensure people know where they can connect with you
- KISS: Yeah, I know we just met but... Keep It Stupid Simple!!
Now, what about the perfect ingredients for your About Page? Be real. Share who you are. Use a photo that reflects YOU and your brand.
People are yearning for real connection. You will find your people, your TRIVE, by being real and sharing you with the world. Even if you feel like there are a million people out there doing what you're doing and saturating the market - there's only one YOU!
Services & Product Pages
What you choose for these pages will vary according to your services or products! Services pages should be more story-telling based first with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) as the second most important aspect, whereas great SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is absolutely essential for product pages. Ensure that you create incredible and captivating product descriptions and you'll be golden!
Tips for product and service pages:
KISS + be clear.
Don't bash your competition. Focus on your USP (Unique Selling Proposition).
Decide if you'll include pricing on your services pages.
If you need to be long-winded to describe a product or service, write a blog instead!
Cut all filler words and stick to the point.
If you need to write an entire page of content that's dedicated to one service or product (we're not talking sales pages here), without much whitespace or content breakup, you're not communicating as effectively as you should. Revise your marketing messaging and always keep the User Experience in mind.
If you do need to explain more, write a blog or create a video!
Your Ideal Client is constantly inundated with information, so switching up the delivery method of your product/service marketing is helpful. It'll give your Ideal Client's brain a break and keeps them actively engaged!
Contact Page + Being Mobile Friendly
Phew! You've made it to the end of this blog!? Wow, you're a champ! Alright, let's dive in...
Contact Page Essentials
Email | Phone Number
Map of business location, if applicable
A photo of you or your business front, if you have a brick and mortar.
Today, mobile website traffic generates over 50% of all web traffic worldwide. Accessibility is everything. It's obviously super important to ensure that your website is mobile friendly.
Once you've created your draft in desktop version, view it on mobile and make any necessary design changes so you can ensure your site is as easy to use as possible on mobile.
It's no secret that template websites, like WIX for example, really limit the customization you're able to do when finalizing your mobile version - but that's okay. If you do have a platform that allows for high mobile-customization, go for it. If not, don't sweat it. Do the best that you can with what you have! Whatever you create will be incredible.
As always, if you have questions, need a little guidance, or decide you don't want anything to do with building your own first website - just reach out. I'm always here to help and be your biggest cheerleader!!
Oh, if you didn't download the full guide above, here it is again for easy access.