how-to-start-a-website
What Should you Consider Before Building your Website

Welcome to the first instalment on how to start and build your website.  Each week, I will be breaking down the elements that you should know and be implementing on the different pages of your site. I will cover what I consider the basics: Home, About, Services, Blog & Contact.  Different industries have different requirements. My industry of course, includes the all important Portfolio where a Realtor would need to include their Listings page. So I will cover a broad spectrum of needs with a custom page over view.

However, the greatest question of all is : Where do I start? What do I need to know & do to begin this site?

I started off creating a download for people where I outline the Top 5 Mistakes made by Websites and what you can do about them. This list outlines what can be seen as common sense items but I just finished reading the directions on my hair dryer & it is written that I should not use this while I sleep so perhaps, sometimes, things just need to be pointed out.

If you are someone that has never designed a website or a blog before, this post is a good one for you as I outline essentially where to begin. First and foremost, creating a good website involves creating a good plan. It doesn’t matter if you are creating a blog, an E-commerce site or standard service listed site. It also doesn’t matter if you are using WordPress, Squarespace or even Hard Coding.

I’m talking about creating a Site Map. This is the blueprint from which you will grow your site. Even if you are planning on having just a blog, a site map will help outline hidden pages or call to action items you may need.

Site Maps are not overly complicated. I literally will thumbnail out what the site will contain & go from there.  I have been asked to quote on sites in the past, and clients will say: 10-15 pages perhaps, I haven’t written the content yet. The latter is fine but without an outline, how do you know where to begin? Quoting on a site requires information & facts. All too often, I’m required to nail down a price but we haven’t nailed down specifics of the website & usually this ends in being over budget.

Here is a site map of my website:

shift-site-map

It is Some websites can be a lot more complicated then this (think of what an Ecommerce or a member based club entails).  Despite how simple your website may be, doing it now vs doing it later saves you major headaches down the road.

I use this site map to determine what the call to action should be on each page as not every call to action is created equal. While it is obvious on your contact page to actually call you, it is a little more vague on your about section. Use your site map to determine what should be cross-promoted & where the visitor should be directed.

In my example, what I have done is not only link to other pages via my navigation, but I provided ‘quick links’ so a visitor can quickly access another area.  While not every website needs to create them, they can be effective if well done. What I like to do with my quick links is to reiterate these quick links on other pages.  They can be highlighting a new service or highlighting a class you have developed or perhaps you have hot sale items you want to feature and quickly sell.  As I have introduced printing to my services this year, I want to call it out in as many places possible in order to get the reader’s attention.  I want people to know that this is now an option.

Let’s say you have written a killer bio & you have your visitor jazzed up about who you are & what you do but then rather then direct them to your services or have them sign up for your newsletter or better yet: call you – you sign off and end the page there. So take your map and determine what result you want from the visitor for each page.  The home page will direct the visitor to subsequent pages.  Services may prompt a phone call while your blog is a fantastic place to push your newsletter. Have you been excited to take action on another website? What was that and where did it occur & YES, pop ups are included.  They can be your strategic ally.

So here is my site map with CTA and all.

shift-site-map-2

As I stated in the download “Top 5 Mistakes Websites Make“, do NOT make the visitor think and not post your phone number at the top or take out your contact page. They are important.  However, if for example, you are a realtor, your call to action is for the visitor to view your listings… THEN call. That number at the top comes in very handy.

So you have your outline! Now you just have to fill in your content… easy peasy, right? The following weeks, I will outline important steps on the most common pages to help you design the most effective website for you.

You will see that it all connects back to the home page. Your most important page of your site.   In this process, this will be something we in fact design last as all roads lead there.

What challenges are you facing in building your website?

Have you created a website but have some lingering questions?

Would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below.

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