Where to start BEFORE you build your website
So…you know that the next step for you and your business is getting a website up and online. Awesome. But YIKES where to even start? The questions start flooding in, and there are so many that your brain can’t even keep up.
I see you! This blog post is dedicated to the people that who want to know where to start, and want a checklist to boot. (Spoiler alert: You can breeze through the post and download the checklist at the bottom!)
Usually when people book a call with me, they have a ton of questions, which is awesome! I love getting to know each person and their business, and then seeing how we can build their business goals into an awesome website.
Coming from a web designer, here are a few things that you’ll want to get organized and/or decide before you even start building! If you have these things at least considered, or given thought to them before you hop on a call with a web designer, he/she will love you for it.
#1 - Get Clear on Your Business
your IDEAL CUSTOMER //
Who exactly is your ideal customer? This is one of the first questions I’ll ask you on a consult call. Why? Because if you’re looking to start a business, my guess is that you’ll want this business to make a little thing called profit, and as your web designer, I’ll want to make sure we build a website based around the people who will be paying you!
The best way to get your business running on all cylinders? Know. Your. Audience. You’ll want to become super familiar with the person who will give you money in exchange for what you have to offer.
Here are some questions to help narrow this down:
Who will be visiting your site?
What problem are you solving for them?
What motivates them?
Do you have a mostly male or female audience?
How old are they?
How can you speak directly to them and motivate them to take the action? (sign up for your newsletter, book a service or consult call, download your freebie, etc.)
It’s okay to really narrow it down! Ever heard the phrase “The riches are in the niches?”. Truth! And, the more specific you get with your target audience, the better your web designer can design with your ideal client in mind.
your MISSION //
If you’re ready to start your business, this one will probably be easy. What is your mission? What is your why? What motivates you every day? Why did you/are you starting this business? Really do some soul-searching here.
Tip: I’d encourage you to put pen to paper and put this somewhere visible so that you can have something to reference if you ever have a rough day (it’s worked for me!) :)
As a web designer, the answer to your ‘why’ is incredibly important to me, and helps guide many of my design decisions and inspirations. The better your designer understands your mission, the better your website will be.
your OFFERING //
what services or products will you be offering? For most people, this means, “How will you be making your money?” It’s important to be clear about how your services or products will be structured, and how you want them represented on your website.
For example, maybe you’ll offer an eBook for purchase. Or maybe you want to have an online course. Or, maybe you offer coaching packages, or want your website visitors to book your services! In any case, be sure to give some thought as to what exactly you’ll be offering on your website. It will help your web designer prioritize your website goals (because we want you to make the $$$ too!)
#2 - Pull Together Your Brand
What makes a brand? This can get really in-depth (another blog post maybe?), but we’ll stick with the super tangible basics.
Most basic branding includes:
and brand fonts
Already have a brand?
If you already have a brand identity (logo, colors, etc.) and/or branding guide, try to collect all the information in one place so your web designer can get a feel for what you have, and understand the look/feel you’re going for.
Tip: If your brand has been around for awhile, does it need a refresh? To be completely real with you, it can be really hard to build a beautiful website when the client’s branding is outdated. Ask a couple neutral third parties, and you’ll probably get an honest answer!
Need branding services?
If you don’t have a brand identity, I always recommend that my clients start on Pinterest (yes, you have permission to go on a Pinterest binge in the name of business development).
Create a Pinterest Board with the title of your business, and start pinning logos, colors, pictures, textures, etc. that you like! Try to keep your ideal client in mind as you start putting this board together. What look/feel, what colors, what vibe would resonate with them? Don’t stress, just go with your gut and start pinning! Your designer will be super super grateful if you already have this Pinterest board ready to pass off to them.
Tip: Remember that Pinterest is basically a visual google/search engine, so use keywords to search for colors or styles (ex: navy blue, minimalist, elegant boho, etc.)
Need a place to start on Pinterest? I often send my clients to the Mulberry Design Co. Pinterest page if they need some help getting started with branding styles, logo inspiration, or color ideas!
#3 - Know Your Website Vision
the BASICS //
We’re talking website structure and pages. Take a few minutes to jot down the different pages you think you might need (Home page, About page, Services page, Blog, Contact page, Video page, etc.). Your designer probably won’t need this specific information right away, but it will help give them a sense of how big your website will need to be, and what your focus is!
the PURPOSE //
This goes back (slightly) to the very first section about your business. Spend some time thinking about the purpose of your website. What are the top 1-2 things that it really needs to accomplish? Is its primary purpose to provide info about something? Are you educating your client? Sharing your work? Selling a product or service?
the FEATURES //
Will you be needing any fancy features? Examples include: a login/membership portal, online booking system, email integrations (Mailchimp, ConvertKit, etc.), shop feature, etc? This will be important for your web designer to know up-front, since some of these things might (but not always) cost extra or require extra work!
#4 - Create Your Timeline
You don’t have to have an exact launch date in mind, but it’s helpful to have a target month for your website launch. Just tell your web designer when you’d love to have your site up and ready, and they’ll tell you if it’s doable or not!
I always find it helpful to find out when my client would like to launch, and then work backwards with them to make sure we have enough time to collect the content that will be needed for the website.
When choosing a date, just remember that you might need to consider things like:
Photos for your website (do you need to book a professional photoshoot?) PS. please please please have professional photos/photoshoot taken for your website! This can be a make or break element for an awesome website.
Copywriting (aka, writing the text content of your website. Will you be hiring a copywriter or writing it yourself?)
Content gathering (product creation, freebie creation, etc.)
Branding (do you already have a brand, or do you need to hire a brand designer?)
#5 - Decide on Your Budget
Yep, I said it! We’re talking about budgets and pricing. When it comes to websites, you kiiiind of get what you pay for. Yes, you can absolutely get a website built anywhere from $300 - $20,000, but the results will, in all likelihood, be quite different.
Here are some things to consider:
the INVESTMENT //
What’s one of the very first things you do when you hear about a new company, product, or person? You visit their website to see what they’re all about. So in those terms? Your website is your first (extremely valuable) impression to your potential customers. It’s your digital storefront! If this is the case, your website is none other than an investment in you and your business.
finding your PRICE-POINT //
I completely understand that not everyone has a big budget for their website, (especially if you’re just getting started)! But I do think that whatever you do invest will pay off in spades, especially if you find a web designer that is as invested in your business’s mission as you are! Scope out some web designer sites and get a feel for their prices so you can know how to set your budget or start saving up some money for your site!
talk to a WEB DESIGNER //
Found a web designer whose work and/or style you love? Don’t be afraid to reach out to them! Even if you think they’re out of your budget, you can always see if they offer payment plans (most do!) that make the project more feasible, OR they can probably refer you to a designer that they trust who is more in your price range. Of course, I can’t speak for all web designers, but this is something I do, and I’d like to think most designers would at the very least point you in the right direction!
paying for MORE THAN JUST A DESIGN //
Higher prices often (but not always) indicate the level of responsiveness, professionalism, organization, turn-around time, and the overall experience that you’ll have with a web designer. For instance, I set my prices at a level that (I believe) reflect not only the high quality, strategic design, but the also the premium experience my clients receive. The takeaway here is that you’ll want to consider other factors that go into pricing, and decide how you want to prioritize them!
Lastly, remember that a website is an investment, and major SIDENOTE, it can also be a tax deductible expense! (yay!) 🎉
And there you go! Ready to be a dream client for any web designer? Come to a consult call with answers/know the above elements!
You got this! Building a website doesn’t have to be stressful; all you need is to spend some time creating your vision for it. :)
Have questions? You are super welcome to contact me. It totally makes my day when I get an email from blog readers!
interested in working together?
Let’s book on a consult call! We’ll discuss your business, goals, and your vision for your website, and I’ll answer all of your questions.
Bonus points if you’ve completed the pre-website checklist! 🤓
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