Making a website for your business can be a very daunting task, but it is very rare for someone to have to build a site completely from scratch. You may not already have a website, but you are already presenting yourself and your business to the world in a number of different ways. Most of the materials that you have prepared for these purposes will be useful in building a website.
This is the fourth and final post from my series preparing you to build your website.
- Part 1: Identify Your Audience
- Part 2: Tailor Your Message
- Part 3: Create Your Site Plan
- Part 4: Gather Your Assets
Think about everything that you have created and shared with your customers through other communication channels like brochures, advertisements, signage, menus, and pricing sheets. Many companies also have documents and assets that were created for internal use within their teams. There is nothing stopping you from repurposing any existing text, images, and videos for use on your website. It is, however, very important to view all these assets through the eyes of your potential audience and then modify them as needed for use on your site.
I’m going focus on four main types of content that you probably already have in some form or another: a logo, text, images, and video/audio clips. Let’s discuss each a bit more in detail and focus on how they can be used on the web and what may need to be changed.
Your logo is the most important component of your brand and will play a critical role on your website. It is the visual representation of your company, products, and services in the eyes of your customers. You should display a version of your logo on every page of your site. I also strongly suggest using the colors of your logo as the starting point for the color scheme of your entire website.
If you already have a logo, make sure to create or acquire a high-quality version of it and possibly multiple variations of the image for use in different situations on your site. If you do not have a professionally designed logo, I would strongly suggest hiring someone to create one for you.
The prices for design work can vary greatly and there is a level of “you get what you pay for” when it comes to graphic design. When hiring someone, make sure to ask for the authoring file—normally photoshop (.psd) or illustrator (.ai)—and a vector version of the image that can be scaled to any size. These will allow any other designer to work with your logo in the future.
Another option for creating a logo is 99Designs. This service gives you access to hundreds of different designers from around the world. Based on your criteria, they will design different logo options that you can choose from. You can then have the artists refine their designs to incorporate your feedback.
At the end of the process, you select the logo that you want. The winning designer is paid and sends you several versions of the image. I have personally used 99designs for several projects and have always come out with a fantastic and professional result for much less money than most local designers would have charged.
With your logo in hand, continue by gathering any text that you have previously used for marketing or advertising purposes. Don’t forget to add all your basic company information—hours of operation, address, and phone number, for instance. Paste all the different snippets into one text document for reference. Your site plan is perfect for this purpose.
In addition to collecting your own content, consider adding any text written about your company. Reviews or testimonials can be very helpful information to add to your website. If you are interested in reaching out to specific users for testimonials, Stephen Belomy, Jimdo’s U.S. CEO, wrote a great post about how to get amazing testimonials from your customers and clients.
Writing for the web is somewhat different than writing for print pieces as most website visitors tend to do more scanning than intensive reading. After gathering your text you should try to break it into smaller paragraphs. Further break up your text by using headings of different sizes and bulleted lists.
Photographs and images:
Collect any photographs and graphics that you have used in the past. Try to get the highest resolution and largest possible version of each one. Don’t worry about specific sizing or file formats at this stage of the process. You can always worry about converting, editing, and resizing the images when you are ready to use them. Right now, just place a copy of each one into a folder on your computer for reference.
Having quality photographs can often make an average website look really great. If you don’t have access to your own photos, consider using some stock photos—but beware of using the same imagery as everyone else. Using that same standard photo of people in suits shaking hands and other similar images should be avoided.
Photos can be especially important if you are selling products online. If this is something you are planning on doing, make sure to start gathering high-quality photographs of all of your items. A best practice is to get a few good shots of each product to show it from various angles and possibly even in use.
Look at existing ecommerce websites for good examples. This is a situation where you might need to hire a professional. If you will have to regularly add new products to your website, it might be worth taking some classes or learning how to do your own simple product photography.
Video and Audio:
Have you already invested in any video or audio material for your company? If so, putting it on the web can be a very effective way to increase engagement and promote your site’s message. The easiest way is to upload your clips to a free hosted service like YouTube, Vimeo, or SoundCloud.
These services take all the hassle out of posting your clips online. The best part is that each of these sites allows you to easily embed the clips right on your website so your visitors can play them without having to leave your site.
Another advantage of hosting your videos and audio clips on services like YouTube is that they provide both another way for your audience to find your website as well as a boost in your search engine results.
This concludes my four part series preparing you to build your own website. The time you spent identifying your audience, crafting your message, organizing your site plan, and collecting your assets has prepared you to create a successful website.
If you have been following along with each of the steps, you should now have everything you need to hand over to your web designer or to start creating your own website using a do-it-yourself service like Jimdo. If you haven’t already done so, take a little more time to decide on the perfect domain name for your online presence and then start building!
He currently serves as the Multi-talento in Jimdo's San Francisco office, solving problems, educating users, and helping to grow awareness about Jimdo, the easiest website builder on the web.
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