As a business owner and a freelance website designer, my first step was to put my business out there on my personal website. When I first started out, I have experimented with both Wix and WordPress and enjoyed working with both for different reasons.
Choosing the right website builder
Starting a business with minimum cost is what you want initially, but one also has to make long term plans. From a financial perspective,WordPress is your best choice as you can rent out space from Siteground or a similar service provider for approximately $5 a month and use free page builders to start working on your website straight away. Free comes with its own limitations and you won’t probably end up with the result you expected, but for starters it’s a great alternative.
My research on the web has shown me that WordPress is better if you want your website to be more discoverable by search engines (which is definitely something we want!)
Do not jump into your website builder dashboard and start creating from scratch. This is the best way to get confused and send a confusing message to your audience. Take the time to plan and make your objective clear.
Create a draft of how you would like your website to look. Write the content for each sections and put your media together in an organised folder. Do a site inventory and list every major item which will go onto the website. Having photos taken of yourself, your team and premises are also the best choice as people do business with people, not with businesses. A mix of real and stock photos could also do.
Choose your menu wisely and do not forget to set your ‘home’ or ‘about us’ page as the landing page. Don’t let your landing page send your audience to different sections of your website. You must remember that your audience wants to see who you are and feel like they belong on your site. Your bounce rate will go down by delivering a clear message to your audience in their first click.
Adding a service tab is also absolutely necessary as this is where you will elaborate on your services and expertise. Your offer should be clear for your audience to make an informed decision and take the next step.
A blog tab is also very important to add to your website as this is where you will show your audience that you are an expert at what you do. It will also be where you will insert all your keywords for the search engines to find you!
Photos for your website
Even if you want to keep a mix of real and stock photos, there are a few guidelines you should always keep in mind. Use HD photos. You can always make them smaller. You don’t have the luxury of making smaller photos bigger if you want to look professional and neat.
Avoid distracting content in the background. Choose a good lighting and keep your photos on brand and consistent. It’s not advisable to have photos of your team members taken from different angles with different colour palettes and noisy backgrounds.
Testimonials for your website
You might not have a lot of testimonials in the beginning, but this is a big asset. This shows your prospects that you are good at what you do and that your clients are satisfied. It’s just like the ‘trusted’ seller badge in eBay or ‘super-host’ badge on airbnb!
If you are not a writer or just do not feel comfortable with words, find someone who is and hire them. This is not in your budget? Try to keep it short. Choose your headings carefully and make sure they are relevant to your message. Write a short paragraph and voila! And make sure to spellcheck.
Building the website
Now that you are done and your content is ready, its all about copy and paste and inserting your media. Remember that consistency is key. I would recommend that you should use no more that 3 or 4 fonts on your website and keep the sizes and colours consistent. You want a clear message in an uncluttered space displayed in a very consistent way. That is the basics of branding.
And don’t forget the call-to-action buttons! They are your best friends when it comes to leads conversion.
I usually start by imagining the website in my mind. I have a preference for a minimalist look : no unnecessary items, a short and clear message conveyed and complete ease of navigation. Get in the shoes of your ideal client. They want to see ‘who’ this is, ‘what’ you do, ‘how’ you can help them, ‘which’ kind of reviews you have, ‘where’ can you be contacted.