Did you know… the design process does not start with design? Well, not visual design anyway.
“Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like… People think it’s this veneer , “Make it look good!” It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
If you’re making a website and your starting point is visual you’re gonna’ have a long road ahead of you tweaking, re-building, head-scratching frustration when you’re not getting any new enquiries from your site—even after all that time and money you spent to make it.
The good news is if you’re not a designer or your design budget is small, you can still get online and attract leads and clients. You just need to start with “How it Works”.
Set your website’s goal
What do you really want your site to do for you? If you’re a client-facing or service-based business you probably want to attract leads. Other goals for your site could be awareness of a brand or cause, building a community, or getting sales (especially for eCommerce sites).
So let’s say the goal for your site is to bring in new leads. Now, it’s time to look at the objective connected to that goal. This is where we get super specific about HOW you achieve that goal.
Break it down to be more specific
How does your site specifically bring you leads? How do site visitors become leads? How can they connect with you, leave their email address or phone number? How can you make sure you have a way to follow up? What’s that specific action?
When you’ve figured out your specific action, you’ve found your site’s purpose. Everything on your site needs to drive that specific action. So, write a little brief for the project.
Write a simple but specific project brief
- Write down your website’s goal and the specific action you wish site visitors to take
- What words would encourage a site visitor to take that action?
- How can you make your site visitor feel like they’re in the right place?
- What can you do to earn their trust so that they’re more likely to take that action?
- What can you do visually to make that lead-generating action as smooth as possible and as likely as possible?
When you have this simple brief written and stay true to it you really can’t go wrong with the visual design. This simple brief will be incredible useful starting point when you speak with your designer. But if you’re building your site alone, keep this brief close to hand so that you stick to the important stuff, stay on track and avoid the distractions of technical set up and layout.
Plan your content
Try to stick to your brief as you start to plan your content. Keep it simple. Really simple. We’re aiming for clear communication and zero confusion so that site visitors take the specific action and become leads.
When working on a website, the temptation is to jump right into visual design and start making pages based on a ready-made website template. But creating your text content before you get stuck into layouts and other technical set up will help you to stick to your goal and really focus on how you’re communicating to the site visitor.
Step into the site visitors shoes and map out their journey through your site. What do they need to see at each stage so that they go further?
Make a list of points that will become your site copy later.
Now the fun stuff…
Plan your visual design: Fonts, colours, and images
When you’ve outlined your site content now you’re ready to make it look cohesive. Do some research online of sites that your ideal client might frequent and love. Notice fonts and colours and image styles.
Tools you can use
- Add the WhatFont extension to your Chrome browser to see what fonts other sites are using https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/whatfont/jabopobgcpjmedljpbcaablpmlmfcogm?hl=en.
- Create a colour palette here: https://color.adobe.com/create or get inspiration and exact colour codes here: https://coolors.co/
- Collect some royalty-free images from https://www.pexels.com/
- If you are the face of the business, be sure to have a decent photo of yourself, even better, work with a professional photographer to create a set of images you can use again and again.
When you have chosen your fonts and a colour-palette and gathered some images you can start putting it all together.
Stick to a consistent look using easy to read text and fast-loading images. It doesn’t have to be a fancy layout! Start simple and focus on driving that lead-generating action.
Once the foundation of your design is set up so that it drives the action that fulfills your goal, you’ll be on the right track! As time goes on you can build on this foundation, making the visual design a bit fancier. OR you can keep it simple!
You don’t have to be a designer to get this right, but if you can work with a designer, this process will go a lot faster and you won’t have to learn how to use all these additional tools!