Welcome to Part 5 of our 6-lesson crash course on What to Know for a Successful Website Design!
In Part 1 you learned that the one big mistake almost everyone makes is…your website is NOT for you; it’s for your customers! Thus, your website must appeal to them so that they will do whatever action you want them to do.
In Part 2 you learned what the six main steps were to designing or redesigning your website.
(Don’t forget to grab our checklists on either of those two posts.)
In Part 3 you learned that your budget is your MOST important decision in this process.
In Part 4 you learned about what you really should and should NOT be working on.
In this lesson, we’re going to talk about the Visual appeal and the importance of Copywriting.
Visual Look and Feel
Let’s assume at this point you’ve figured out your budget and you’ve hired someone to design your website.
If you can communicate the story of what you’re trying to do to your designer and are able to help them understand your target market, the most important two things you can do are:
- Provide examples of sites you DON’T like and what you DON’T like about them.
- Provide examples of sites you DO like and what you DO like about them.
Now if you don’t have a clue on what you like or don’t like, do the following:
- Research competitors in your space.
- Find out which ones are the most successful and unsuccessful.
- See what their websites are like.
- Look at other industries that are totally unrelated to you and check out their websites.
- You can do a google search for “best-designed websites” or something like that, and it will turn up people that have made a list of their favorite sites.
You can also ask the website designer for some examples that he or she might like in that area. Often times, they are familiar with a company that does a “top 10 website” list of a certain area and will go through those for inspiration. For example, the Elegant Themes blog sometimes has those lists – here is one: Elegant Themes.
From those examples, a good designer will be able to incorporate images you have (the more professional images you have the better) and/or find images for you. They should know that a good picture is worth a thousand words, and a great picture will help draw the user into the website experience.
They will also be able to suggest the proper typography (fonts, spacings, etc.) for your site.
The story you want to communicate will also be reflected in the layout, and a good designer will suggest the best approach for this, while also considering your social media channels.
Furthermore, communicating what you DON’T like is just as important, and sometimes is easier for you to discover.
Ever been with a group of friends and someone asks where do you want to go to dinner? Or your kids? You say, “Well, how about we go to Subway?” What’s the response sometimes? “No, I don’t want a sandwich.” “OK then, how about Italian food?” “OK but I just went to an Italian place last night.”
You get the picture here; it’s easier to say what we don’t like than what we do like. So sometimes we have to narrow down from there.
So tell your website designer that you don’t like a site’s busyness, or that the font is too small, or the colors just don’t match, or you like site A but you don’t like the footer area.
All of this gives important direction and clues to your designer.
Because the more specific you are in how you do this, the faster the designer will produce something you like and will require fewer iterations, saving you time.
Let’s go back to the house example in our previous articles…think about the process a prospective buyer goes through. It might be something like this:
- Hear about the house somehow (see an advertisement, friend, search)
- Visit the house
Now once they visit the house, they
- See the house from the curb (the outside, the lawn, etc.)
- Open up the front door and see the entry-way and the living and/or dining room.
- Walk through that and see the kitchen.
- Check out a bathroom or two, and/or see the downstairs bathrooms.
- Go upstairs and scout around the rooms up there.
- If they like what they see, they will contact the seller or agent.
If the “curb appeal” isn’t very good, you’ll have planted in their mind negative thoughts, and in fact, they may just drive on past and not even go inside. Then once they are inside, they may not visit all the rooms or go upstairs if they don’t see what they like.
It’s the same with your website:
- They hear about your site somehow
- Visit your site
Now once they are on your site, they
- See the hero area and text, which is generally the portion they first see when looking at your site (your curb appeal).
- Scroll down the page (enter your front door).
- Check out the other pages on your site (the rooms in your house).
- If they like what they see and read, they will contact you somehow, either through a contact form filled out, a phone call, an email, or optin for a freebie download.
Just as with your house you are careful what “message” is given, on your website, you also must be careful what message is given.
That is where copywriting comes in.
According to Copyblogger, “Copywriting is the art and science of strategically delivering words (whether written or spoken) that get people to take some form of action.”
And that’s what you want people to do when they visit your website. TAKE ACTION!
Communication is critical so that people want to take action from the words and images you use on your site.
Thus, the website designer or company you hire should be able to help you communicate that information effectively, through colors, images, layout, and text.
That’s it for this lesson!
In part 6, our final part of the series, we’ll look at the Implementation of your website, as well as Hosting, Maintenance, and Security.