Right after the thought, “I need a website,” business owners usually say, “I need a web designer!”
Actually, before even whispering “web design,” you need to answer these five questions in as much detail as possible. Once you’re clear on your strategy, you can provide better information to your web designer. And most likely you’ll be pleased with your new home on the web.
1. What is the purpose of your website?
Even when you’re well-known through face-to-face contacts, you still need a persuasive website. A significant percentage of buyers (80% is the most common estimate) will visit a professional’s website before deciding to buy. They may still be in decision mode. They may be looking for validation of their choice, which may have come from a recommendation.
What do you want visitors to do? Sign up for a free get-acquainted call? Download a lead magnet? Go right to your online store and buy? Make that decision early in the process.
2. What is the backstory of people who come to you?
Chances are they have three major questions. Can you solve my problem? Can you help me overcome the obstacles I’ve had to solving it myself? And will you be like the last person I hired?
Most people don’t ask the last question, which is really important. If they’ve had a really bad experience with their last lawyer, and you’re a lawyer, they’ll be bringing baggage to the relationship. If you address their baggage, you’ll be one step ahead of the game.
Download my free report on Finding Your Client’s Backstory.
3. What message do you want them to take away?
Your message communicates an underlying story and demonstrates the benefit you offer.
For instance, many years ago I wrote a website for a party entertainer. She did tarot readings and made caricatures of the guests. We realized the party hosts wanted to do more than create a few feel-good moments: they wanted to build memories. That became the theme and message of the website.
4. How will you maintain your site?
Many new website owners budget the cost of web design, a year’s domain name and a year of web hosting.
But that’s only the beginning.
A website that’s been unchanged for many years will grow cobwebs.
It’s easy to tell when you’ve landed on a website where nobody’s home. Something’s broken. The whole place looks abandoned.
On a regular basis, you’ll need to replace broken links, fix newly discovered spelling errors, add updates to your schedule, and a whole lot more.
If you’re brand new to the online world, you’ll learn a lot as you go. Your website will look different to you – and to your audience – after five or six months.
When you’re embarking on a new business – or a new direction for your business – it’s rarely a good idea to drop a lot of money on design or even copywriting. Work with a copywriter to fine-tune your message. Save money by using copy coaching for DIY rather than hiring a cheap copywriter from Craigslist, who will most likely do your message more harm than good.
I have a course on copywriting with stories that you may use as a start, and I also offer copy coaching. Coaching isn’t cheap but it’s a fraction of what you’d pay a pro to write from scratch.
5. How will you promote your site?
A website without promotion is like a jumbo airliner flying around the world without any passengers: expensive and useless!
You can write articles as free content, create guest posts and submit your site to the search engines. Fill your website with content, update the content regularly, and write your copy with an eye to your keywords.
You can budget time for promotion or hire an assistant. Some people say it’s important to hire an assistant very early in the process, so you won’t get bogged down in details. Others say it’s better to wait till you have more systems in place.
Planning ahead can help you create a website that makes your job easier. This free website planner helps whether you need a makeover or a startup website.