Tell any web designer ‘just make me a website,’ and you’ll be met by a blank stare. You might as well tell a realtor to just go buy you a house.
You’ll end up with an apartment for your five-kids-and-growing family. Nothing will fit, and nobody will be happy.
A blanket request never works. Instead, you research the styles of homes and buy one that fits your family (whether that’s an apartment downtown or a two-storey house in the country). The same idea holds true when you’re creating a website to fit your brand.
Getting a firm idea of what you want will save you and your web designer time, and stress, and will more than likely save you money. The first step to finding that idea is to do your research, and a great place to start is right here, on the internet.
Discovering Your Style – Websites for Inspiration
Start with you competitor’s websites and see what they do, then get inspired with some creative website designs at:
The ideas are out there, but it doesn’t help to have an idea if you can’t communicate it. Now that you have inspiration, you need to know the blueprint of a website, so you can effectively talk to your designer.
The Header – The Roof of Your Website
In the not-too-distant past, web designers referred to the thin strip along the top of the home screen as the header.
Nowadays most designers refer to everything ‘above the fold’ (everything before you scroll) on the homepage as the header. This is arguably the most important part of your website because almost every visitor will land here. The header is your chance to make a good impression – your elevator pitch – so make it a good one.
You can do a lot in a header, but there are certain features you need in order to engage visitors:
- Introduce Your Brand – display your logo and make your slogan bold and attention grabbing – make sure your visitor knows they’re on your site.
- Site Navigation – People expect a way to get around your site at the top of the page, and the simpler, the better. Give them ease of movement and they’re more likely to dive deeper into your site.
- Strategic CTA – Inserting a call-to-action at the top of your landing page ensures visitors will see it, increasing the chance they’ll react to it.
- Eye-Catching Design – Whether this means bright colours, bold typography, or a beautiful hero image or background video, good design will make your visitors feel something, and that’s what you want.
Engaging Content – The Walls of Your Website
Your website’s about more than just design – remember ‘content is king’. The body of your website carries most of your content, allowing site visitors to engage with your brand and your services.
Critical Content Pages for Your Website:
- About Us – Who you are and what makes you different/better than competitors.
- Services – What you offer your customers and the prices attached to those.
- Our Team – Gives your customers friendly faces and profiles they can associate with.
- Contact – How/when/where your customers can reach you.
Of course, those are just the basics across industries. Depending on your business, you should have a few pages on your website containing extra information about your business, and what it offers. These could be pictures of products, menus or photos of dishes, or customer testimonials of your services.
If you’re unsure, do some research. Chances are, if the big guys in your industry have it, you should too.
The Footer – The Foundation of Your Website
Not everyone will get down here, but those who do are here for a reason – they want more. The footer’s job is to give them a trail of breadcrumbs to that ‘more.’
Important Footer Information for Your Website:
- Your logo
- Social Media Integration
- Contact information, including address
- A Search Function
- Sign up for a newsletter, if you have one
Your Website, Your Brand
Remember the most important takeaway: do your research. Check out your competitor’s sites and search for inspirational elements on other sites that you like. In this way, you can help your web designer put together your ideas in a cohesive way, showing off your brand, and who you are, exactly as you see yourself.