Getting online? Figure out the first step.
If you're new to creating a website, the number of different platforms and ways to get online can be a bit overwhelming. The first step you need to take is understanding what things you want your website to be able to do.
When we have new clients come to us to build their website for them, it's very common for our first question to be "what do you want your website to be able to do". It's an incredibly simple question, but one that a surprising number of people haven't really thought about. As a basic rule, what you want your website to actually be able to do (the functionality) will dictate what website platform you should choose to begin with. For example, if you are just wanting a straight forward informational website that you'll be able to edit really easily, then something like Weebly, Wix or SquareSpace will fit the brief. They offer drag and drop website editors that are specifically targeted at the average consumer being able to run their own website. However, when you start to add any sort of complexity to a site (think membership systems, databases, or to a lesser extent e-commerce), then you will need to start looking at website platforms with more flexibility (with WordPress being the initial starting point for alot of people). A few things we'd recommend considering:
Once you've chosen a website platform (or content management system) to move ahead with, the design process generally ends up involving two major stages. First up, you'll need to pick the styling or 'theme' of your website. This styling will flow through all your pages, so it pays to take a little bit of time up front getting that right. If you are a newbie, we'd recommend keeping it simple. Pick out a base colour (usually white, sometimes black), and then a max of two colours from your branding and stick with those. Keep the number of fonts to a minimum (two is safe - one for headings and one for the body text), and if you are playing it safe, you can get away with just one main focal image on each page. If you follow those basic guidelines, you'll at least be starting down a middle ground track and shouldn't scare customers away.
With the design and theming chosen, you'll then need to start adding your content to the site. Think about using headings that make sense for both the readers and search engines, and try to sit in the shoes of your customers and clients. Figure out what your end goal is, and make it as easy as possible for your customers or clients to get to that point. Use call to action buttons regularly throughout the site, so people are only ever one or two clicks away from a conversion for you. If you have a more complicated site, or specific functionality, make sure you do some decent research about any third party plugins you use on the site. We always suggest keeping plugins to a minimum - as it's just less things to worry about in terms of security and ongoing maintenance.
Ultimately, website design falls into one of those categories of things you could do yourself, but isn't necessarily completely straight forward. Like most things in life, an expert or specialist in the field will tend to be able to provide you a higher quality result with more conversion potential, and they'll probably do it quicker as well. The investment you make in getting a website designer to do the work ultimately saves you time that you can put into other parts of the business. We love seeing our clients having a crack at the online side of things themselves (and everything we build let's them take over the running of the site), but also think that it's worth having a chat with us, or another expert, before diving into a build yourself. We're always excited to have a no obligations chat with anyone, and will steer you in the right direction regardless of whether you use us, another designer, or build a site yourself, so don't hesitate to get in touch with us today.