You want to be as proud of your website as you are your business and the work you do. But website development has gotten sophisticated, and navigating the process can be daunting. Don’t stress! Get a website you can be proud of with these tips and tricks:
Know Your Brand
Before you dig into the design of your site or even populate the content, know your brand. Be able to articulate what you do, who you do it for, how you do it, why you do it, and what makes you different from everyone else who does it in one brand statement. The more clearly you can define your brand, the easier it will be to have that brand come through in your website copy and styling.
Know Your Target Market
Who is your ideal client? Write down everything about them. Try to imagine 2-3 different personality profiles or personas that embody your ideal client. This process is called persona-based marketing and can help you populate your website content. As you make decisions about your site, imagine that you are communicating with these personas. What colors, fonts, words, and experiences would these personas want to have while visiting your site?
Define Your Website’s Purpose
What do you want your site to do for you? Will your site house a blog to host inbound marketing content? Would you like to include online scheduling or a client portal? At a minimum, you want your site to introduce you, your services, and the benefits of working with you. You can do that on one page or multiple pages. The choices are all yours to make. Just be sure you decide before diving into web design and development.
Get Good Photos
Once you know your brand, your services, and the content you want to include on your website, start styling it. Select colors and imagery that feels like you and your business and will also attract that target market. Focus on images that will evoke the same feelings you want your clients to have while working with you. You can pay for stock photo subscriptions, such as Adobe Stock or Shutterstock, or use sites that offer free photos, such as Unsplash.
Also, take the time to work with a professional photographer to get some good headshots and candid images of yourself. Visuals overpower all other content and increase recall and retention of information, so be sure your website imagery is gorgeous, spot on, and matches your brand.
When it comes time to upload your photos, make sure they are high quality and load fast. Web optimize your photos by reducing file size using Adobe Photoshop or GIMP, or try online services such as FileOptimizer and Image Resize.
Buy Your Domain Name and Pick a Host
In order to take up space on the internet, you need two things: an address and storage. After naming your business, buy (register) your domain name and pick a host. Your domain name is like your address, and your host is the storage for all the content. Sometimes, you can do one-stop shopping and host and register everything all in one place, such as with Bluehost, iPage, or GoDaddy. You can also elect to register your domains in one place, such as Google Domains, and host in another, such as Flywheel or Squarespace.
Choose a Website Builder
With your domain registered and your host set up, you can choose a website builder to start bringing everything together. You have a lot of options! Once again, you can do one-stop shopping and have your host, domain registration, and website building all in one place. Sometimes your options are limited though. You might have to use specific templates or themes that don’t quite fit your brand or website function. Be sure you spend time shopping and learning exactly what you’ll get to do with this option.
You can also get full customization with a Wordpress site. You’ll have to link up your hosting and domain registration to your Wordpress site, which you will then log into to build your website. Using Wordpress is easy once you get the hang of it, but it definitely requires a little comfort with tech and piecing things together. If you have that time and enjoy digging into customizing everything, then Wordpress is a good fit.
Somewhere in the middle are WYSIWYG (say whizzywig) sites. That stands for “What you see is what you get” because you work interactively and literally, what you see is what your site looks like. You can move content blocks around and add in images just by clicking and dragging. Squarespace and Wix work this way, but with Wix, you’ll have to manually change the way your site appears on desktop versus mobile.
Consider the amount of time you want to spend uploading and updating content and maintaining your site and how much customization you want. If you want to keep it simple, shop templates on a WYSIWYG, plug your content in, and voila!
Just a short while ago, which is eons in tech time, responsive design was a nice option. Now, it’s the standard. To have a website you are truly proud of, make sure it works just as well on both desktop and mobile. Most builders have responsive design integrated into them, but as you are shopping, keep this feature in mind. Select templates and themes that explicitly say they are responsive.
If you opt to use Wix, remember that it will require you to manually change the mobile settings. You can build your site as a desktop site and adapt to mobile or build as a mobile site and then adapt to desktop. Either way, it will take a little bit more time than a site builder that does it for you. The advantage is that you’ll have total control over the small details between desktop or mobile designs though, so perhaps you can use this to your advantage.
Integrate Your Online Presence
Don’t forget to incorporate your whole digital presence on your website. Connect your social media accounts and, if you want to collect email addresses for a newsletter, consider including a pop-up.
Some builders make these integrations easy and seamless, but your options for how you do it are limited. WYSIWYG builders will have blocks that you drop in and then connect to your social feeds. Wordpress has plug-ins for these sorts of things (and also for contact forms, video players, and all kinds of snazzy web elements). You’ll have to download them and install them into your site, kind of like apps on your phone. That means you get the ultimate in customization but also the responsibility to update the plug-ins and integrate them.
Keep It Simple
Web trends are always changing rapidly. Remember that you are a nutrition professional, not a tech titan. You don’t have to have a site that looks like it’s redesigned every other month to keep up with the latest trends. Above all else, you need a simple, accessible, functional website that will serve your business. So don’t sweat the small things such as where your social media short cuts go or the menu style you have.
Test Your Website
Before you decide you’re all ready to go, send your site to people who you can trust to give you honest feedback. Ideally, have them view your site on multiple different browsers and hardware. Ask them to explore the site and provide feedback for how it looks and feels. Make them check all the links, complete any forms, submit the info, and report if anything doesn’t work. Also, ask them to describe the people who they think might like the site. See if what they describe matches your target market personas. It’s a great way to check that your site functions the way you want it to.
Hire a Professional
Don’t forget that you always have the option to hire a pro. If you do, follow all the tips here until selecting a builder. Web developers can give you a gorgeous site you can be proud of, but they aren’t necessarily designers, copywriters, or brand developers. Understand that they are relying on you to know what to develop.