With more and more businesses moving into the digital space, the best way to organically grow your online business is a well-designed website for potential customers. We all know that websites are often the first opportunity to make a lasting impression, so it is important that you put your best foot forward.
The content must not only be beautifully presented, but it must have the customer journey in mind if you are going to convert them to become a customer (and stay a little longer).
Below we outline what you should keep in mind during the web development phase. Whether you’re in the process of designing your first website, or need a handy checklist on what to remember as you update your current one, here are our top things to keep in mind.
Develop a Strong Brand + Design Strategy
Everything you do, should start with strategy. Before you begin building your website, you need to produce and solidify your branding and design elements. If you need further guidance on this step, check out our article Top 3 Elements to Consider When Developing a Strong Brand for a deep dive on how to do just that. Ask yourself - what do I want customers to take away from visiting my site? How will I capture customers if they visit and then exit? How often should I change the website copy or design? The further in advance that you think about these elements, the more prepared you will be to plan web updates in the future.
Find the Right Hosting Platform + Domain Name
There are many platforms out there so we know that choosing the right one can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t need to be. First, you need to figure out what kind of website you need. Are you offering a service through your website? You’ll need to consider which hosting platforms are the best for e-commerce. Depending on your experience with web development, Shopify and Squarespace both offer user-friendly and customizable ecommerce templates to utilize.
However, if you’re not offering a service and are simply sharing content such as a blog or portfolio, then you probably don’t need to purchase a hosting service that includes e-commerce. There are a multitude of platforms that you can take advantage of such as Format, a subscription based platform with various templates that caters to what you want to showcase.
Choose a Template
A priority before you start to build your website is understanding that there will be restrictions in what you can do. Whether you decide to customize a website template or create a custom code, keep the following in mind when designing your website:
Layout, Typography + Color
A well laid out digital design will include thoughtful use of colours throughout your website. It's imperative you use appropriate colours, fonts and font sizes that will be legible on all devices. Pre-made templates usually include this but still a useful tip if you want to customize it to your own branding. However, unlike colours, web fonts that are offered in a template can be different to your brand font. Keeping that in mind, you need to choose a font that you know will be available as a web font or a font that comes very close to your existing brand font.
Design + Content
Content is everything. Your website can only be as strong as the content you produce. Don’t publish pixelated images, or out of date images that no longer reflect your brand’s most updated look and feel. Make sure to proofread any copy that will go live on your site to ensure that there are no spelling or grammar mistakes. Whatever it is that you want to publish, make sure it makes an impact.
Easy Navigation (Less is more)
When you get into the groove of web development, you may become carried away with plug-ins, widgets and extras that will slow down your site. Do you really need a video as a header? Or the widget that makes your cursor into a sunflower? Remember that you’re building a functional website for your business, not a MySpace page. Every element you decide to include on your site is another thing that needs to load. Less is definitely more when it comes to add-ons.
You typically build your website on a desktop so it can be easy to forget that your audience will most likely view it on their mobile devices. Be sure to test out your website layout on all devices (desktop, mobile and tablet) to ensure that it’s functional across all of them.
This may not be the most important component on your website, but it will be the last thing that may see as they scroll through. It’s always a great place to add quick links to other pages such as about us, FAQ or contact information.
Test Your Website
Test, test, test… and test it one more time for good measure. Before you make your site live, make sure to test all your links and forms to ensure they aren’t broken.
Building a new website can be an expensive job, which is why it’s so important to get it right the first time. If you are interested in working with Blue Door to help build you a beautiful site, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 1-855-854-5594.
About the Author:
As a Graphic Designer at Blue Door, Sheila is multi-disciplined with a background in the luxury beauty and lifestyle industry. With her previous experience, she brings in a different perspective when it comes to digital content development, creative strategies, and design execution.