You might not have the resources to hire someone to make your website and that's ok! Even though it seems overwhelming it can be really fun to learn what's involved, create it for yourself and feel that sense of accomplishment when you hit publish. Here is a basic guide to help you along the way.
1. Outline goals
This step might seem obvious; “To sell my product/service.” or maybe “to showcase my work.”. But you need to get more detailed than that. Grab a notebook and start writing everything that comes to mind about how people will interact with your website.
Here’s some prompts to get started:
What is the purpose of your website? What do you want the visitor to do or achieve? How will you clearly convey what you do? What is essential to include? What would be nice to include?
2. Create your site map/user journey
In this step we start thinking about the structure of the site. Use a pen and paper to write down all your pages and how they will be connected. Break down the pages further into different sections e.g. testimonial, newsletter sign up, previews of work, pricing packages etc. Start thinking about how you want to display your content in each section of the page; sliders, headshots, accordion menus etc.
3. Define your visual style
This part can be exciting and intimidating at the same time! Start collecting inspiration from around the web of layouts and designs to inspire your own site, take screenshots of individual elements that fit in with what you’ve planned in step 2. For example, if you want to include prices for your services, try searching “pricing layouts”. Sites such as Google Images, Pinterest and Lapaninja are my go-tos when collecting inspo.
Search for inspiration relating to:
- Style (e.g. minimal, dark, feminine etc)
- Other people in your industry
- Individual elements
If you have previously defined your visual identity you should know your colours and font styles but if you don’t it’s important to start thinking about these things so your site will have a consistent design.
4. Sketch your page designs
This is a very important step that a lot of people skip, but when you already know the direction your design is taking it speeds up the development process so much! Using a pen and paper is the quickest and easiest method to do this. They don't have to be works of art, get messy and experiment!
This is a very important step that a lot of people skip, but when you already know the direction your design is taking it speeds up the development process so much!
Use the images you collected in step 3 to inspire your design, combine the images, mix and match them, write notes about which parts you like (even if it’s something small like rounded corners on the images). Draw your own layouts (this is called wireframing) using a pen and paper, the quickest and easiest method to do this. They don't have to be works of art, get messy and experiment!
When you have some ideas you like create more refined versions that will guide the development step, you can do this on paper again or if you like working on the computer you can use Illstrator or my personal fav Figma. You can repeat this for each page or just the most important ones like Home and Services etc.
5. Write a rough draft of website copy
Use a plain text document for this step so you can focus on the words and not be distracted by the design. Google docs is my program of choice for this step because it’s simple and I can access it from anywhere using my phone when inspiration suddenly strikes! You may want to swap steps 4 and 5 depending how you like to work, sometimes it helps to let the content drive the design, or maybe it’s easier for you to write something to fit your design.
Start by writing each page name as a heading and then a subheading for each section on that page e.g. About us, product breakdown, testimonial etc. Fill in what you want to say on each section.
Go easy on yourself in this step, it can be really hard to figure out what you want to say and how to say it! I struggle a lot with this step, so much back and forth, writing and rewriting, it helps to imagine you’re talking to a friend or colleague to sound natural. A couple of my go-to places for help on copywriting are Ashlyn Writes youtube channel and Jess Jordana.
If you get stuck in any of these steps or want a second opinion reach out to me on Instagram @3rdeyestudio.au I'd love to help you out and see what you're working on!
6. Build your site
The hardest step, there’s a couple of options here. First you'll have to choose a platform to use, there's so many options and each has their pros and cons.
If you've never touched a website before I would recommend checking out Squarespace, the interface is relatively easy to use and there's a lot of templates around for you to purchase and customise. Tutorials are really easy to find it you get stuck. My platform of choice is Webflow but it’s a bit more advanced and you’ll need some basic knowledge of coding. They also have a wide range of templates ready to buy and customise.
Follow your plan and start building your pages! Don’t forget to create a consistent colour and font system to connect everything together. Choose images that are relevant to your business and the feeling you want to convey.
7. Proofreading and final touches
You're nearly there! Make sure you proof read and test every page of your site to make sure nothing strange is going on. Test all the links and see how it looks on multiple devices. Add in some simple animations to give it an extra touch of fancy! Don’t forget to connect up any forms that you’ve included.
8. Launch time
It's time to let the beast loose unto the world! Don't get stuck fiddling with the pixels, think of your site as a living being that grows and evolves as your business does, it's ok to launch before you think it's finished or perfect (spoiler alert: it will never be perfect). Build up some hype for a week or so before you launch by posting sneak peaks on Insta or maybe have a promo event!
Bonus Step: Celebrate!
Share your shiny new website with your followers and customers and celebrate what an awesome achievement you've made! I'd love to see what you come up with for your website, tag me on Instagram @3rdeyestudio.au so I can celebrate with you!