Here’s the scenario. You run a small business start up and realize you really need to get a website. Or, you run a small business and realize your website is really dated. You have little to no knowledge of how this whole website and Internet thing works. Your heart pounds at the thought of blowing your budget. You get frantic thinking about how your going to find the time to make this happen.
What you need is stiff drink.
Actually, No. What your really need is some insight into preparing for a web design project in order for you to make the most of your design consultation and ultimately, make the most of your Internet marketing.
Here are 5 initial steps you can take before you even pick up the phone to book a consult.
Evaluate your current branding. Are you happy with it? Have you had someone with design or marketing expertise provide you some feedback? No sense in spending the money on a website if your a) not happy with your current branding or b) unsure of your current branding. Websites are one of the bigger start-up expenses, don’t waste your money designing around a low budget logo or an outdated logo. Search Go Daddy and see what’s available in terms of domain names that you would consider. Make sure your current branding is going to translate well on the Internet, and if your unsure then hire your designer or a consultant to review it.
Decide on your online marketing goals. It could be as simple as having a website to direct people to – what I would consider to be the bare minimum of Internet marketing. Yes, it’s an important reason to build a website and without a doubt, all small businesses need a website. However, taking your business online gives you plenty of varied marketing opportunities, and taking advantage of these can make your website pack a bigger punch. Yes, you can tell people about your website, but nowadays, business are succeeding online because they’ve got good content and it’s being shared in social media. My advice? At minimum, you should invest in setting up a good Facebook page and learning how to use it. Next, consider Twitter to build connections, You Tube for video marketing and Pinterest if you and your content are visual.
If you don’t already have tag lines and marketing materials, start brainstorming. Websites are a combination of visuals, calls to action and tag lines as well as written copy. You need some kind of marketing direction. If you don’t have a plan and you don’t think you can create one on your own, then schedule an extra consult with your designer or someone who can help you create your plan.
Gather all your materials in preparation for your initial consult with your web designer and have it ready to hand over in digital form.
- Headshots and Photography
- Contact information: phone, mailing, emails
- copy written material- information about you/your business, welcome and introduction text, and information about products or services relating to your business
- tag lines and calls to action
- key words and key phrases related to your business
With all this information, your and your designer will be able to decide on aspects of your website including construction, outline and navigation. Prepare to discuss with your designer other functions that may be of value to visitors on your website including downloadable information, booking services, contact forms etc.
Get inspired. Look at other websites and not just those in your business niche. Let your designer know which sites you like and which ones you don’t and be prepared to explain why. Your designer will want to get some insight into your vision.
check back for more Design Insights coming soon.
100 business owners gathered in front of me at THE Biz Seminar, and I happily shared with them some insight into setting up a self hosted WordPress website/blog. We covered a lot of information in one hour- so I’m posting a PDF review of the basic points we covered and my list of favorite plugins. I’m also going to share with you the PDF version of the handout I give to all my clients at their blog training session.
Click on the links below to take you to the download.
making the switch!
So many WordPress Themes seem so boyish dont’ they? Sure, they’re clean and minimal- but where’s the feminine touch? The swirls? The Flirty Fonts? The cute icons? Well, I found some!
Modern Blogger- The name says it all. It’s fresh and modern, with a touch of retro. Child Theme available for Genesis Framework
Vintage- Great magazine style theme for an online presence that’s pic heavy. Another Child Theme for Genesis Framework
Handmade- Feminine photo editorial magazine theme available on Theme Forest. Great for a food or style blogger where pictures really matter.
In honor of a fabulous local writer’s group I belong to – Golden Ears Writers- I’m sharing this fabulous and fresh WordPress theme available on Theme Forest. If your not a story writer, you’ll want to be when you see this theme.
Novelist features a design that reads like a book and features a trendy full screen background image. It’s a got a simple menu, google fonts and nice, clean looking integrated social media buttons. It also re sizes easily for different screens, changing from a book layout to a standard blog-style layout, a great must have feature to optimize your site for different types of displays. It’s also comes with two more things that make it even better: video support to help you with set- up and a five star rating!
I’m a big fan of themeforest.net for sourcing premium WordPress themes. For a designer, there is no long term commitment to one particular theme or set of themes, but rather you pick and choose exactly what kind of theme from a whole bunch of theme developers, many of them fully customizable. This is great, for not only designers but for someone wanting to try their hand at building their own WordPress website without having to part with a lot of money.
When I am considering a WordPress theme at Theme Forest, I always take into consideration the theme’s overall customer rating (must be 4 stars or more), how long ago it was last updated, if it’s compatible with the latest version of WordPress and whether or not the original creator offers some kind of support such as a support forum.
Here are a few themes that I am really loving, and I thought I would share them.
The Cotton is a brand new theme by Pexeto. Walkerparkmedia.com is created around the very popular Dandelion Theme by Pexeto, and I am really excited to see this new release from them. These themes are powered by Pexeto Panel, a really simple to use admin panel that allows for easy customization. Pexeto also has a valuable support forum that can be accessed once a theme is purchased. I promise you that if you post a question, you will be helped quickly.
Slide looks like a really interesting and cool theme by GhostPool. It’s got various homepage slider options including that way cool accordion slider. It looks like Ghost Pool has a support forum as well- something I just can’t live without.
WordPress Elegant Flickr Theme, a new theme by ParkerandKent has the ability to integrate Flickr with the “click of one button” . Although I haven’t used this theme, it’s at the top of my list for themes for photographers. It also seems to seemlessly integrate video and audio, making it classy and minimalistic approach to a multimedia based website.
If your looking for your next WordPress theme, shop around on Theme Forest, and if you need help with customization- I know someone who can help…