A New Year, a new website?

Illustrative image of typewriter with paper in it and "2016 New Year's Resolutions" written on itMy major New Year’s resolution for the last couple of years was to replace the Fiona Storey website. “But you are a web designer”, I hear you cry! Correct! Though haven’t you noticed that decorators often have the tattiest houses, gardeners the untidiest gardens, and the builder is the guy whose garden wall has fallen down? This is presumably because they are busy with customers’ work and struggle to find the time to devote to their own projects.

However, this is their personal space and the impact on their business is probably minimal – customers won’t generally see their deficiencies. If you don’t have a website, or the one you have is outdated or, worse, dysfunctional, you are probably losing business.

In my case, yes, I was busy with clients’ projects, but the main problem was procrastination. Whilst I revel in creating the design, structure and content for others’ websites, I found these tasks much more difficult when it came to my own business.  I kept putting it off and using the excuse that I was too busy. In the end I briefed Assistant Designer Ricky to come up with some ideas for a site plan and layout, and it started to take shape. It was a great move! I was as fussy as our most demanding clients, and we went back to the drawing board several times. But even being a designer myself, getting someone else, who could approach the project more objectively, to create an initial draft that could then be developed, proved to be a good idea.

Perhaps your New Year’s resolution is to get your first website up and running, or perhaps to get a tired, outdated website replaced with a shiny new one. How should you approach it to make sure it happens in 2016?

Do it yourself or employ a professional web designer/developer?

WordPress, which is the system we use to design our websites, is an online platform that anyone can download and use for free. There are many good self-help books out there and loads of information on the internet, so it is certainly feasible to do it yourself.

However, remember that your website is a major marketing tool for your business. A good professional web designer will create something that looks good, is simple and intuitive to navigate, ensure that the content is laid out in such a way to engage with your visitors, and optimise the content for maximum impact on the search engines. He or she will take a fraction of the time that you will need to learn everything from scratch, and the finished result will probably be much more effective in producing sales or enquiries. So it is generally more cost-effective to use a professional.

Find yourself a web designer/developer

Before you speak to anyone surf the web, looking at websites about things that interest you generally as well as those related to your line of work. Try to notice what you like and don’t like about the websites you visit and make some notes. The website designer is often shown in the footer with a link to their website so by all means check it out.

Ask your contacts for recommendations. Check out your referrer’s website as well as that of the designer and see what you think. While it is not essential for your designer to be local to you, you might prefer personal contact, and that is easier if he or she isn’t too far away so bear this in mind.

Once you have two or three designers on your short list, call them and if possible arrange a meeting.

Writing content

It will also generally be worthwhile to use a professional copywriter to produce the written text for the website. Writing page content for the web is totally different from any print media, as your text needs to be concise and focus on the possible benefits to the potential client. This can be challenging, particularly if you are technical and absorbed by design details. Your website designer may offer this service, or may be able to recommend a copywriter.

If you do decide to write the text yourself, do get someone to proof-read it for you – it is easy to miss mistakes if you have written them in the first place as you tend to read what you think you have written!

 

If a new or revised website is your New Year’s resolution good luck with it! If we can be of any assistance please call me on 01908 644673 or send us an email.

In the meantime I will be fulfilling my New Year’s resolution for 2016 by writing this blog!

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