So you’re ready to take a big step in your business and invest in a custom website design. Congratulations!
But before you start working with a designer, here are some of the essentials you need to make the most of our your new website:
I know it can be easy to get carried away in the excitement of having your very own home on the web, but to make that possible, you need to first have a brand!
The branding files needed to hand over to your web designer should include:
Before you hire a professional to design you a custom website, make sure you have purchased your domain!
A domain is your website address (eg vanillaandoak.ca)
Domains vary in cost from $12 and up and need to be renewed year to year.
You should also purchase “domain privacy” at the same time (there will be options for this when you check-out). This way people can’t find all your private information such as your home address and phone number online.
I always recommend to my clients purchasing your domain through Google Domains, as I have had issues with other domain registrars in the past (looking at you, GoDaddy).
*note, some website platforms have the option of also purchasing a domain name at the same time, depending on which platform you use, this may be the route to go.
Just remember if you go this route, if you ever plan on switching web platforms you would need to transfer your domain away elsewhere to host
You need to know which platform you want your website to be built on before you hire a web designer.
If you’re not familiar with the different platforms or are not sure which is best for your business, reach out to your favourite designer and they should happily be able to recommend the best option for you and your business, as they’re not all built the same.
Some website platforms include hosting, while others require you to purchase it separately. Hosting is what makes your website “live” on the world wide web so that people can access it
I design all websites on Showit, where the hosting is included with the monthly cost.
I’ll be brutally honest here, there is no point in having a custom designed website if you aren’t willing to invest in professional photography.
The photography on your website is just as important than the actual web design itself.
That’s why I require all my web design clients to have a professional shoot done before the web design begins.
Website design and brand photography truly go hand-in-hand, and one without the other will cause your website to fall flat.
Imagine landing on a beautifully designed website, but all the pictures are iPhone selfies. Would you feel like this person is a professional? Would you feel comfortable investing in their product or service? Something would feel “off”.
And when you flip it, you land on a website with some of the most gorgeous photos you’ve ever seen, but the site looks like it’s from the 1990’s *yikes*. Would you give them your credit card information? Probably not.
A photoshoot can also help bring your brand messaging to life, tell your story, and make sure you come off as the professional you are.
The best time to plan your shoot is after your branding is done, and before your website design starts.
So you’ve got your beautiful new website, killer photoshoot, and now you need to make sales.
And the very best way to do that is to work with a copywriter to help your audience connect with your message, and ultimately buy what you’re offering.
A copywriter will help you get uber clear on your messaging, and figure out how to tailor it to your ideal audience so they know you are speaking directly to them (now that you know who those people are, after working through the brand strategy).
Sales and conversion copy is a craft not everyone can excel in (myself included), but if you’re not quite ready to invest in a copywriter, I do provide all my clients with a copywriting work book to guide you through strategic prompts to write your own website copy, so we can get words on the page and design it around your messaging.
To make the most out of getting a custom designed website, I recommend investing in both services below.
I’ve marked them as optional because you know your business best, but if they’re something you’re going to invest in down the line, you should 100% do it before investing in your website design, as you will probably need to end up going back to your web designer if you want to add them to your website later.
Kill two bird with one stone and do it before you work with a designer:
Have you ever landed on someone’s website and signed up for one of their awesome freebies? Well if you have, more than likely you would have been added to their email list and sent some sort of sales funnel.
Before hiring a designer, create your freebie and sign up for an email marketing platform so that your designer can implement not only the sign up into your website, but make sure it flows with the rest of the design.
I use Flodesk and not only is it intuitive and easy to use, the emails are absolutely beautiful. Flodesk also allows you to create landing pages for sign up forms, and pop-ups.
Finally, and maybe one of the biggest investments would be a CRM. A CRM (or Customer Relationship Manager) is the most valuable tool if you want to streamline your business.
A good CRM will allow you to track leads, invoice, send contracts, communicate, and keep track of all your projects in one place.
I use Dubsado and it has helped me stay organized in my business and show my professionalism.
Heads up: in full disclosure, I want you to know that I am an affiliate for Dubsado and Flodesk, which means that if you make a purchase from one of the links above, I may make a commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend tools I have personally used and absolutely love!
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