How to plan a brilliant small business website - even if you have no experience



Here's a simple 5 step process you can follow:


  1. Choose your website address

  2. Decide if you want to DIY or outsource your website

  3. Sketch a basic sitemap of your website

  4. Outline what's going to go on each page (e.g: images and text for each page)

  5. Get your $#!t together - create a simple content inventory

  6. Pick a template and start designing!




1. Choose your website address


Your website address (e.g: www.YourBusinessName.com) is also known as a domain name. You need to choose one and buy it from a domain host.


ACTION STEPS:

  • Go to domain name registries like GoDaddy and 123 Reg, and look for the domain name search box, and enter your desired domain name there to check availability

  • If your desired name isn't available, you'll need to find an alternative. Avoid crazy spelling or random extensions that might confuse clients. Try stick to the .com and .co.uk

  • You can expect to pay about £20 per year for a standard website address. You'll see most common names have already been taken or cost a small fortune to purchase, so try go for something simple but unique

EXAMPLE:

Taking GoDaddy as an example, it might say £0.99 for the first year. Then when you click through it will prompt you to choose domain cover (usually about £5.99 per year). Select that and "no thanks" to everything else. At checkout, you can choose whether you want to sign up for one year or more. At the time of writing this article (October 2019) the total amount I was quoted for caitlinpieters.co.uk was under £20 for the year including domain name privacy and taxes.


2. Decide if you want to DIY or outsource your website


Deciding whether to DIY or get someone to help you can be tricky. There are pros and cons to both.


A DO-IT-YOURSELF WEBSITE


If you’re pretty tech savvy and feel confident enough to want to DIY, this can be your cheapest option because you won’t need to pay any designer fees.


You're in charge of your own account, meaning you can access billing info when you like and you can edit and update your website any time. You'll pay for your domain name and website building platform (see cost above in step 1), and save on designer fees.


But it can be frustrating trying to figure everything out yourself, and you can waste sooo much time. You also run the risk of your website looking amateur which can do more harm than good when you're trying to come across as professional.



HIRING SOMEONE TO DESIGN YOUR WEBSITE


If you find a good designer that you trust to be upfront about the costs and their availability, then this option is great because it can save you time and potentially bring income because you'll look more professional. So it's an investment, but you do need to choose your designer carefully because all designers are not created equal ;)


Just because someone knows how to create a website from the technical side, it doesn't mean they have a clue about good design and branding. I see it all the time and it really fires me up: women who've spent thousands on websites that don't do them justice and worse, that they don't know how to access or update themselves. They become beholden to an unreliable or expensive web developer and they have no freedom and flexibility to update their website as and when they need to. So if you go this route just make sure you feel comfortable with the person you've chosen. You want to be able to ask them "silly" questions without feeling awkward.


The cost of designing a website varies a lot. I would caution against price shopping and rather go for good quality and someone you'll enjoy working with.


Step 3: Create A Basic Sitemap


Grab a pen and paper and sketch out how many pages you want on your website. Decide on what to call them (keep it simple and obvious so site visitors know what to expect), and decide where they will go on your website.


This is a thinking process that helps you determine what you need from each page, and doesn't need much detail. For a simple service-based website your sitemap might look like this:


Depending on your type of business and the amount of information you have to share, you might also want to include an INFO page or a Blog.



Step 4: Plan your pages


Outline what you need on each page. For a basic service-based website, you can include the following:


HOMEPAGE


Keep your homepage simple. Don't overload it with too much text. Make sure you've included:

  • Your logo

  • An image

  • A captivating headline telling people what you do and who it's for

  • A Call To Action

  • Short "about" section (you can link to your About page for more)

  • Social proof (testimonials, reviews, logos)

  • Your services (keep it brief on the homepage, you can link to your services page from there)

  • Your contact info


ABOUT PAGE


This is the second most popular page on the majority of websites. So don't leave it as an after-thought. Use this opportunity to share your story, build trust and a genuine connection with your ideal client. You can include:

  • About you/your brand blurb

  • An image

  • Call To Action (what action do you want them to take?)


SERVICES PAGE


Outline your services here and encourage site visitors to take the next step in working with you. For example, you can ask them to book a free call with you to see whether you’re a good fit.

  • You can include some testimonials to support each service if you like

  • Call To Action - make it easy for them to take the next step like book a free call with you


CONTACT PAGE:


Your contact info can be on it's own page or in the footer so it appears on all your website pages. Either way you should have a link to this contact section in your navigation menu so it’s easy for people to find.


ADDITIONAL PAGES:


Depending on the scope of your business and how much info you have on your site, you may need an Info tab, a FAQs or a Blog.



Step 5: Get your $#!t together


So now you have a rough idea of how many pages you want, and what to put on each page. It's time to get your $#!t together! You can use a free online project management tool like Trello to plan out your content, or your own system. Whatever works, as long as you do it.


Basically you need to get all the imagery, website text and graphics you want to have on your website together.



Now you should have all your bits and pieces together in one place so when you speak to a designer or start building your website, you know exactly what you need, what you have and what you still need to get. Viola!



Step 6. Pick a template and start designing!

If you're going to DIY (or at least give it a go before deciding to invest in a designer), you need to create an account and pick a template.


ACTION STEPS:


Sign up for your free Wix account. Yes it's 100% free. You can create as many websites as you like. You can play around with the editor and get used to all the tools. You can test out all your favourite templates. There is no time pressure to figure it all out.


You only pay if and when you want to connect your site to your domain name. And then you can choose a plan that fits your budget


COST:


You can go for a monthly plan (expect to pay about £15 per month) or a yearly plan which works out cheaper but you pay about £120 upfront.

Insiders tip: Wix runs specials every so often where they offer 50% off their annual plans. I always recommend my clients wait until a special runs and then upgrade their website then. This can save about £60 :D

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#diywebsite #websitestrategy


WINCHMORE HILL, LONDON
Email: hello@caitlinpieters.com 
Phone: 07842402292
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