If you want to make money from your online business, then you have to put your website to work. That means it needs to do a heck of a lot more than sit pretty.
You need a strategy behind all the fancy, state-of the art features. And it starts with clearly defining your goals and purpose from the beginning.
Whether you’re DIYing a website for your dream business, working with a designer – or even if you’re the website designer who’s about to begin a project for your client – you need to know the answer to the questions in this episode.
After listening you’ll know what it takes to build a website that:
- Captures your target market.
- Is user-friendly for your customers and your team.
- Receives return visits.
- And converts window shoppers to buyers.
So what are you waiting for? Press play already!
Danielle (19s): Mae West said, “Knowing what you want is the first step toward getting it.” And knowing what you want is also the first step toward having a successful website and a successful online business. When many people think of successful in terms of an online business, they think about one that’s cash generating.
Danielle (58s): Yes, generating sales is an important part of having a successful online business, but in order to get those sales, it has to be beneficial. It has to be beneficial in the form of systematic and simplified workflow for you and your team. It has to be user-friendly for your visitors, attractive for your target audience, and of course, inviting and enticing for those visitors to return. It also needs to lead potential customers down the pipeline to your sales funnel.
That leads back to cash-generating. Marking those things off the list and getting to how you can Mark those things off the list and make sure that your website has them, you have to know what you want and what you need. You have to know what you want that website to do and how you want to do it. You have to know what your overall goal is. Those are some of the things that we’ll be discussing.
Danielle (1m 58s): I’m actually breaking down 15 questions that you should be able to answer before you even start your website design project. And yes, I’m going to be able to fit those in less than 30 minutes like I always do, or at least that’s the goal. So we’ll see what happens. Stick around and keep listening because today’s going to be some good stuff.
Welcome back for another episode of Dreamer’s Den Podcast. I am your host, Danielle Towner, and I help entrepreneurs build an online presence and brand awareness through my company, Dream Work Creatives, and through the marketing services that we provide. We work with clients on website design, content marketing, and social media marketing.
So let’s get started on the subject at hand: 15 things that you should know before starting your website design project, whether you’re a DIY who’s wanting to do your website on your own, whether you’re working with a website designer or developer, or whether you’re the website designer.
Danielle (2m 43s): These 15 questions that I’m going through, you need to pay attention and jot these down. These are going to help you to structure out that workflow and to have a clear vision and a clear path of how you need to start tackling all your to-dos for getting your website done. Getting it prepared for success and for attracting the right audience, for working effectively and being productive in the most efficient way and for getting the right audience to your website and down at sales funnel.
Danielle (3m 21s): Earlier, we talked about that these goals should lead to having a cash-generating website, but it has to be beneficial. It has to be beneficial for both your team and your target audience. The first thing that you want to answer is: what does your company do? This seems simple enough, but you’d be surprised by how many people are not able to explain what their company does. Some people have a long drawn-out explanation of what their company does.
Danielle (3m 54s): Some people can do the thing and they do it very well, but they can’t explain it. You should be able to explain what your company does in one sentence, jus like I did my intro and I explained to you the benefits and the value that we bring to our clients, how I help people, what my company does. This is what you want to be able to explain or answer the question of what your company does. That’s going to help you be able to best communicate that to your audience when you’re writing your copy for this website.
Danielle (4m 33s): It helps those creative juices start flowing—that’s one of my favorite sayings—it helps you to start getting an overall idea and vision of the direction that you need to go with this website. So practice this. Look at other people’s elevator statement there or elevator pitch, and come up with yours about what your company does. Who is your target audience? I was just talking about target audience, and I’m always talking about target audience, but you want to know who you’re selling to.
Danielle (5m 10s): People have put this in so many different ways, but one of the phrases that I hear King Ashley Ann and others who are killing the marketing and online business game, they say that if you’re selling to everyone, you’re selling to no one. And this is so true. You want to know who your target audience is, and you want to be specific about their age, their demographic, their location, what they do, their income, their spending power, or how much they spend, where they spend their money, where they spend their time, what they do, where they hang out online or where they browse internet, what they watch on TV.
Danielle (6m 1s): You want to get specific with this. Now, you don’t have to have every single detail of this line right here, but you want to think about who you’re targeting so that you know how to target them with the website. That’ll get you thinking about, what colors do I need to use in my branding? You should already have that figured out, but you need to think about that and have that in mind. Based on what this target audience likes, how do I need to structure my website with my branding, with how I present the message, with the language that I use.?
Danielle (7m 12s): Knowing your target audience, who they are, what they do, where they are, it helps you to start thinking about these things. This is something that you should easily be able to pull from your business plan. If you did this in the order that I’m always preaching and that I’ve recommended, then you’ll have your business plan in place already.
Just because it’s an online business, that doesn’t mean you should skip the business plan. If you’ve done this properly, then you can pull this from your business plan and plug it into these questions or have this in mind when you’re starting this project.
Next is: what is your unique selling proposition? Wait. What? Unique selling proposition. Now, what is the unique selling proposition? It’s simple. It sounds complicated, but all it is is what about your products, your services, and your brand distinguishes you? What about that sets you apart from your competitors?
Danielle (7m 42s): Everybody else doing what you do, there’s a lot of people doing some of the same things, but there’s a lot of people winning and it’s because they understand their unique selling proposition. They use that to their advantage.
Danielle (8m 35s): What benefits your customer about whatever it is that you have unique from everybody else that’s doing what you do? You don’t have to put your secret sauce out there, but you do want to tell people, “You have a choice to buy from here or to buy from there, but you want to buy from here because this is what we do differently,” or, “This is what we have differently,” or, “This is what’s different about our brand.” You want to keep that in mind and write that down and have that because that’s what you want to display somewhere on your way website for these potential customers to see, “Okay, well, this is why I should buy from here instead of there.”
What’s the underlying goal of your website. Basically, what are your intentions for the website? Do you want to present information? Do you want it to bring awareness? Do you want it to entertain? Do you people happy or make them laugh? Do you want to display a product or service? Do you want it to serve as a portfolio for a service that you can provide? Do you want to get out some information or educate people on something that’s going on?
Danielle (9m 8s): Do you want to bring about awareness? Do you want to be able to have people donate to a mission or a cause that you have? Are you trying to convert sales and monetize your website and generate income? What is it that you want your website to do? And it could be a combination of these things, but you want to have an idea of what the underlying goal for your website is and also the next question, like I said, what do you want the website to do?
Danielle (9m 42s): Do you want the website to serve as a portion of your sales funnel, have a landing page on it that navigates them through your website? Do you want them to stick around your website and browse on different pages and learn different things about the content that you have there? Do you want them engaging with your content? Those are the things that you want to think about. When thinking about what you want your website to do, think about how you want your potential customers and your audience to interact and engage with that website.
Danielle (10m 19s): Here is one of the things that I say is of utmost importance. It’s on the same scale with your copywriting because that is like the meat of that website. It’s just the shell and a beautiful, fancy structure without the copy, without the meat of the website. So your search engine optimization; that’s so important. That’s a part of your copy, especially when it comes to something like your website.
Danielle (10m 56s): You want to think of a list of keywords and key phrases that you want to target for search engine optimization. Now, this is throughout your website on the home page, but what are those things that people would search for in order to have your website come up in that list or in order to land on your website? It could be based on your location if your product or service or your business is location-specific.
Danielle (11m 29s): It could be based and certain features or that unique selling proposition; something about your product or services that’s distinguished or different from another. What are those adjectives? What are those key words? What are those phrases that people would look for? And you can even go to Google or do keyword research or go to Pinterest to find some of those key words or phrases if you’re looking for them, or if you need more information about them.
Danielle (12m 0s): You want to start thinking about those things because when you hire a copywriter or when you write your copy, you don’t want to just do keyword stuff and go overboard with it or force it. There are places that you want to have good fluid copy, but have those words eloquently fall into place within that copy. If you have a blog as a part of your website, that’s definitely helpful with search engine optimization and also with keeping potential customers on your website and building that relationship.
Danielle (12m 38s): That will play a huge part in your search engine optimization. You need to make sure that you have that taken care of throughout your entire website, even on the backend with images and functions like that. Another one is: what URL will you be choosing for your website? What website address? Now, there’s a lot of extensions out there: .com, .net, .us, or .tv, .biz, .shop. It’s everything that you can think of now as extensions, but .com still trumps them all.
Danielle (13m 23s): It’s so much more that you have to think about besides, “Am I going to get a .com or am I going to get something else? Or is that going to be available? You want to think about what is going to be a logical name that people would look for or search for about your business and your brand after they became aware of it. If they’re aware of your business and your brand, what logical name would they think of before even seeing a link or marketing materials to search for your business?
Danielle (14m 24s): You want to think about something that’s catchy and simple at the same time and easy to remember. You don’t want to have a long drawn out name that’s going to be hard to type or hard to remember because you want to make this process as easy as possible. You want to make reaching your online business, your website, reaching you as easy as possible and converting as easy as possible.
Danielle (14m 60s): Do you know what platform you want to use for your site? Just like extensions on the end of your domain name, there are many platforms out there. It started off not this way, but if you’re not wanting to build a website from scratch and do codes from scratch, there are several options out there for you to be able to choose from. I’m a WordPress girl when it comes to platforms, but other people have that preferences with Wix, Squarespace, Shopify for the people who are setting up online stores.
Danielle (16m 45s): I’ve recently been able to go on the back end of Shopify and it’s a good platform. It’s a simple platform for someone who wants to quickly and easily start their online store. It takes some work just like any of them do, but it’s a good platform. I can add that to my list of recommendations.
All right. I want to share a little secret with you guys. When I was first getting started with Dreamer’s Den Podcast, I had to research to answer a lot of questions. Like how do I record an episode? How do I get my show into all the apps that people like to listen to? Of course, how do I make money from my podcast? The answer to every one of these questions is simple. Anchor.
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All right. A little side note: if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you probably saw a story from me recently where I shared a photo of me completing my application for my absentee ballot. I’m staying home as much as possible and keeping and mine safe, but I do understand that my vote and my voice matters, especially at critical times like these.
Now, if you share some of the same concerns that I do, just know that voting isn’t just going to the polls on the election day anymore. Options like early voting, mail-in voting, and ballot drop boxes are available to more voters and are growing in popularity. How to Vote, a tool created by Democracy Works, breaks down the options your state offers for casting a ballot, empowering you to decide when and where to vote.
With the How to Vote voter tool, you can sign up for election reminders, see what’s on your ballot, get step-by-step assistance requesting your mail ballot, explore your options for returning your vote at mail ballot, check your voter registration status, find your polling site, and make sure you have the appropriate ID. Decide when and where you vote this year at howto.vote.
There is a long list out there, but WordPress is tried and true for me and you can do so much with it. It’s so flexible. When I say WordPress, I mean the open source version of that where you can customize it as you want to, you can still use code to make a beautiful, functional website that meets all of your goals and that converts spectators into buyers.
Danielle (17m 16s): So you want to think about that.
Danielle (17m 56s): If you have no idea what platform you want to use, then you need to contact a website developer or website designer, also do your own research to make sure that those needs are being satisfied and what you want your website to do for you to make sure that that’s satisfied.
Next, what pages do you need on your website? This is something that you want to think about because when you’re thinking about what information that want to give to your customer and what you need your website to do, this is a good point to start jotting down what pages you need on your website. When you’re thinking about the goal of the site, you want to make sure that you have the right amount of information out there for the client.
You also want to think about that you have the information in the right places, that you’re communicating where it is so they can easily get to it, and that what you have out there is able to meet the goals of your potential clients. Yes, jot down a list of what pages you want to have on your website.
Danielle (18m 29s): If it’s something that you’re not unsure of, then take a look at some of the other websites that are out there that are in your industry and see how they’re structured. And look at more than one; I would say two to three, so that you can have an idea of what information you need to have. If you are brand new with this, then you may not have an idea of everything that you need to have out there.
Danielle (19m 38s): You can take a look at how it’s set up, how it’s structured on other websites and what pages they have. From there, you can decide what you need and what you don’t need, and you can map it out. Now, you want to think about what features you need on your website. Now, this is all the things pretty, state of the art, all the bells and whistles that are on your website. I talk about on social media, you have this, but that’s not what’s going to generate the sales.
That is a part of the process, but you just want to think about all of the other things combined together that’s going to help you get those conversions. All of these features are important to make your website user-friendly, to make it convenient, to put in automations that will make the process seamless for not only you, but for your customers. And to make it look pretty and make it look like a crisp high quality website, but also to build your audience, to build your tribe. Some examples of these features could be search forms.
Danielle (20m 8s): It could be contact forms to collect information. It could be forms like on your Work With Me page to gather even more information where potential clients can upload documents. It could be a map so that they are able to find exactly where your location is, your portfolio, or your gallery to show off your work. Things as simple as your social media buttons so they can follow you and reach you.
Danielle (21m 9s): Then it gets more advanced with Click to Call buttons or ordering pricing tables, live chat, chat bots, things like that. But the email subscriber form, this is one of the things that is so important because that is getting them on your opt-in list to be able to keep that communication going in a more intimate way with your audience, give them more premium content, and gain them as a client, if you haven’t already, and have them as a repeat client.
Then it gets to the higher tech things like booking systems and shopping carts. If you aren’t using something like Shopify, there’s still the option to build a shopping website or to build a shop within a website for your service-based business or for your business where you’re just giving information. You have all of these options to be able to set up your dream website and set it up the way that you want to have it and the way that it’s going to help you reach the goals.
Danielle (21m 44s): Also, think about if you already have content available for your site. This is where it comes in, again, where I was talking about that copy. If you’re using a website designer, you don’t want to go to them empty-handed. You want to have drafts. Even if this just the roughest of rough drafts. If copywriting and search engine optimization is included in the package that you choose from a website designer or a developer, then you still don’t want to go to them empty-handed because you’re the one who knows your business.
Danielle (22m 20s): You’re the one who knows how you want that information communicated to potential customers. It’s their job to advance you and to make it attractive, but it’s your job to get them the basic information. If you’re doing it yourself, you definitely want to have this information lined up and drafted up because you need it to have a complete website. Like I said, the design is the shell and it has the functionality, but your content is the meat of that website.
Danielle (22m 57s): Does your business already have a style guide? If you go into building a website and you don’t have a style guide, you’ll end up doing some scrambling or it can be a confusing time for you or for anyone that you’re working with. If you don’t have a style guide, this is the time to put one together. It’s going to shape your overall brand not only for your website, but for social media and for any of your content marketing and for any of your physical marketing materials.
Danielle (23m 29s): It’s going to set the standard for all of that. You don’t want to start off with one type of brand and then flip-flop to a totally different. You want it to be uniform across the board. And that’s not to say that you have to post the same thing, the same way, with the same template, and the same layout, but the basis of that should be the same. You can switch up the design, but as far as your brand colors, you want it to choose two to three brand colors and you should base that on what your target market is attracted to.
Danielle (24m 11s): You should base it on what message you want to send, how you want this branding to represent your company, and how you want your marketing and your branding materials to represent your company. There’s a psychology behind it. If you look it up, you can find out what colors have certain meanings behind them and what feelings certain colors bring about for different people—what those colors motivate them to do.
Danielle (24m 42s): Same thing for the fonts. You want to choose a couple of different fonts; maybe one for the main headings and others for subheadings and the body. You want to make sure it’s clear. You don’t want to make sure it’s to thin. You don’t want to make sure it’s too fancy to read.
Some of those fonts, you need to just keep them simple because, over time, things will change and those classic simple fonts will remain the same. A lot of people use the bolder headings to make sure they’re clear and make sure they’re visible and make sure that they’re getting their point across.
Danielle (25m 20s): You want to think about your tagline or your motto for the company. You would be surprised how many people don’t have this or haven’t thought about this, but this is just as important as your company statement or about what your company does. Your tagline or motto is another way of summing up what your company does and/or the benefit that it brings. So you want to have that tagline or motto, and you want it to be able to start ringing in people’s heads so that when they hear it, they know that it’s you.
Danielle (26m 0s): What feeling do you want customers to have when they see your website and your marketing materials? That’s something that we just went over with the style kit and picking out your brand colors. So when they see this overall branding with your website, your logo and your marketing materials, what is the feeling that you want them to have? Of course you want them to be ready to buy, but do you want them to feel warm? Do you want them to feel happy and excited?
Danielle (26m 31s): Do you want them to feel entertained when they see this? Do you want them to feel invited? You should already have a logo by then, but some people don’t. A lot of people just use the simple text and they don’t even use their logo on the website. You should still have that in mind as you get ready to put in your brand kit together. I already mentioned finding two or three websites and looking at how they have them structured.
Danielle (27m 34s): If you’re working with a website designer, you might want to share that with them, to look at it and say, “Okay, this gives me an idea of the functionality that they want to have.” “This gives me an idea of what they want the website to do.” Or, “This gives me an idea of the feeling that they want their clients or customers to have when they visit that website.”
It’s for inspiration. It’s not for stealing and it’s for looking at it and being able to say, “Okay, I get it. ” “I see what they want or what they need for their website,” from a designer standpoint. Then you want to think about what’s your budget?
How much are you willing or able to spend to get this project off the ground? What is your budget? Be realistic about it, be sensible about it so that you can find the right resources or find the right person to help you get this project done.
Danielle (28m 5s): Think about, do you need help updating or maintaining the website and help with the blogging and content marketing? That’s going to be a part of determining what your budget is. It’s also going to be a part of deciding what platform you want to use, or what avenue you want to take with designing the website.
Some of them are more user-friendly on the backend than others. Some of them come with a built-in content management system. That will be easier for someone to manage than a website that’s built solely on code.
Danielle (28m 37s): That’s one of the things that I ran into when I got my first website designed; they built it in a way that it wasn’t easy to manage. Then they were like, “Well, if you ever need updates or if you need a management package, I can do that for you.” Well, I was a blogger, so I needed to access my website almost on a daily basis. So that didn’t work for me. You want to think about those things. How often are you going to need updates?
Danielle (29m 8s): Is this something that you’re going to have time for? If you’re in the beginning phases, are you going to slowly build, and you’re going to have time to do the management of the website? Or is this something that you want to take off with running?
Danielle (30m 5s): And you’re like, “I want to delegate and automate as much as I can. So I’m going to work with the designer or the developer to maintain this website.” You want to think about those things when you’re choosing the platform.
The packages that I have when I design websites, I offer a tutorial for people to show them how to manage their website, but I also offer management packages. So there are options there, and it’s all in you deciding what’s best for your budget, what’s best for your time, and what’s best for the resources that you have.
So those are all the things that you want to have a clear picture and a clear idea about when you’re starting your website design project. This is whether you’re doing it yourself, whether you’re working with a website designer, or whether you yourself are the website designer.
This is the information that you want to capture to get, as closely as possible, the vision that your clients have. As I said, I offer website design packages. So if you’re looking for someone to help you with your project, feel free to go to danielletowner.com and click on the Work With Me page and get in contact with me.
Danielle (30m 45s): If you have any more questions about what we’ve discussed today, about setting up a website for a successful online business, then feel free, if you’re listening from Anchor, to press the record button and ask your question. If you are listening from my website, post your question to comments. You can also follow me on instagram @dreamworkcreatives for more daily tips on website design, content marketing, and social media.
Danielle (31m 17s): Thank you guys for listening. And as I always say, dream into your dreams come true.