Smart people plan. Amiright?!
We plan for weddings, vacations, even what we’re doing on the weekend.
As business owners, we plan our marketing, sales specials, budgets and more.
As smart business owners, you plan everything.
With proper planning and preparation for your website, you’ll ensure that you are providing a clear and professional way for your potential clients to learn more about you, get to know you, and want to work with you. When you do that, along comes the life you’ve been working towards, and you can start planning that beach vacay!
An oldie but goodie…
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin
We want to help you succeed.
Because we know exactly what you’ll need to get ready for your new website (it’s one of our superpowers), you’ll be able to get a head start, make a plan, and get all of your ducks in a row. Then, when you’re ready to get going, you’ll be organized,ready to go, and stress-free!Prep for your website design or re-design with this Website Prep To-Do List #websitetips Click To Tweet
Make your website-building experience stress-free.
When working with a designer, you should expect information. Information on what your part will be, what your designer/developer will help you with, and guidance during each step of your project. That’s exactly how we do things. We guide you through the entire project, taking baby steps to make it productive and easy to manage. Here’s a quick overview of our process and the easy-peasy steps from prep to launch.
The prep work you do before your website project begins will ensure all goes smoothly. Even if you decide to DIY and bravely take your website design on yourself, there are things that should be done before design or development starts.
Prep for your website to-do list:
- Buy a URL and obtain web hosting: We recommend SiteGround or Websavers for web hosting. They can also help you get the URL you want. TIP: Pay the extra $ for domain privacy. This helps keep your personal info private, and you’ll get less spammers and other annoying marketers, too!
- Decide on your email address(es): The [your name]@[yourURL.com] addresses. Will you need a general mailbox email address like info@ or help@? Which employees need an email address?
- Choose your colors: Do you have specific colors you want to use for your website? If yes, you’ll need their HEX codes. A HEX code looks something like this: #34cbe2. You’ll only want to use 2-3 colors at most to keep your site looking clean and professional. Choose a color for your main text, a link color and a special heading/accent color. Need help figuring what colors to use for your website? Go here, click on the color family you’re looking for, and scroll through the plethora of shades to find the colors you like. If you don’t yet have a brand palette, check out our Pinterest board to get inspiration. In need of brand development? We can help!
Fonts: We can be like kids in a candy store when it comes to fonts. They’re so much fun!
Do you already have a font associated with your brand? If yes, see if it’s a Google Font. You can search for a specific font name, test to see how your text will look in that font and compare different fonts. If you can’t find the font you want here, use the filters to find something that’s close to your preferable font. At The Essential Website, we try to use Google Fonts as much as possible because you can always count on them working (they’re tech- and browser-friendly), they’re easy to add to a site, and we always find excellent substitutes if for some reason Google doesn’t have the font we’re looking for (and sometimes we even like that one better).
Keep in mind that there’s a difference between desktop fonts and web fonts. Desktop fonts can be used on your computer in any program you have installed (i.e. Word, PowerPoint, PhotoShop). Web fonts are installed onto a website so you can use them as text on your site.
Just like colors, you only need 2 or 3 fonts. One for your main copy, a headline font and possibly (though not necessary) an accent font for a special area like a button. Need a little font inspiration? Visit our Pinterest board.
- Gather your images: This includes your logo, photos of employees, product images, special graphics, etc. All of your images should be high resolution and of professional quality. Only use images that you’ve purchased (and that you can use commercially) or have taken yourself. NEVER use images without permission or without the proper license. That’s a big no-no. Your images and graphics can be in either .jpg or .png formats. If you have vector files for graphics (like your logo) those are best (these file names end in .ai or .eps). You can see some of our favorite places to find images here and here.
TIP: Organize your images by adding all of your home page images, about page images, etc. into different folders. That will help you AND your web designer stay organized.
- Create your web copy: Think about ALL of the pages of your future website. Home, About, Services, FAQs, Contact page, Terms and Conditions…all of them. Every. Single. Page. PLUS your blog posts. Get it all organized and edited. If you need help writing, you might want to hire a professional like: Courtney Johnston or Nikki Elledge Brown. Get our list of other fave experts here.
- Ecommerce shop? If yes, start gathering all of your product descriptions, images, pricing, shipping details, sales tax rates, sizes, and any other pertinent information together into a spreadsheet to make it easy to upload/move to your new site.
- Set up a MailChimp account: If you have (or plan to have) an email newsletter (we highly suggest you do), MailChimp is the company we use and recommend. You can set up a free MailChimp account (nice, huh?) for up to 2,000 subscribers.
- Create an opt-in freebie: You know, the thing you give away for free when someone signs up for your email list. These are usually pretty PDFs, but you can also give away coupons or something else useful. Something that is of value to your visitor. See why it’s smart to collect email addresses from your website (including GDPR things to think about). Create the copy you’ll need for your freebie, gather any images, and decide what you want to give away (tips, steps, chapter one of your new course, a how-to, etc.)
- Google Analytics: Keep track of statistics, visits, and other analytics to assist you in your marketing planning. We set it up so that you can get your day-to-day activity right from your WordPress Dashboard. To set up a Google Analytics account, you first need a gmail email address. Gmail is also the best place (we think) to forward your @yoururl.com email addresses. BONUS: With Gmail, you get access to lots of other cool, helpful tools like Google Webmaster Tools, Google Drive, and more.
- GDPR Compliance: You’ll want to make sure your website (i.e. your opt-in area(s), policies, forms, etc.), the services you use, and your processes are compliant with GDPR. This post explains more and provides resources to help with this not-to-be-missed step.
- Collect testimonials: Reach out to your clients (if you haven’t already) and ask them if they would kindly provide you with a testimonial. How did they like working with you, how did your product or service help them, etc. Don’t forget to ask for a photo of them as well (faces add credibility).
- Will you need any forms? A contact form, a form to collect other information (like a testimonial or application), a survey, etc. What questions do you need to ask on each form?
- Downloads: Will you need clients to download documents or forms to bring with them when they visit you (like a form you take to a first doctor’s visit)? Collect and organize these documents. If they aren’t in PDF form, now’s the time to do that.
- Your passwords: Organize all of the passwords you’ll need to share with your web designer in LastPass. It’s the best way to safely and securely share this important (and highly sensitive) information.
- Social Media: Which social media accounts do you use for your business? Do your ideal clients use and engage with you on these accounts? Think about this. You’ll only want to add social media links/icons to your website if you AND your clients actively use them. If you have a Twitter account but you don’t use it, don’t add it. If you’ve only got 1 or 2, that’s ok. The important part is being active and connecting with your clients. This is where quality, not quantity, counts.
- Things no one thinks about:
- Do you want a sidebar? If yes, what do you want in your sidebar. An opt-in form? A way to search for content? Affiliate links? A Pinterest feed?
- If you have buttons on your site (buy buttons, opt-in buttons, etc.), what would you like them to say (i.e. “Yes, please!”, “Buy me!”, etc.)?
- Where do you want your opt-in signup(s) to be? Homepage, all pages, sidebar, footer only, etc.
- What do you want in your footer? Your Facebook feed, special links to members-only pages, association logos, etc.?
TIP: We all tend to lean towards our own personal preferences, but you’re not doing yourself any favors if your ideal client doesn’t love the same things you do. Stick to your brand personality and do your homework to figure out what your potential clients like, where they hang out, what appeals to them and what kind of vibe you want to portray when planning your website.
If you already have some of these items done, congrats! You’re ahead of the game! By doing your prep work, you’ll not only have a better handle on what’s going on, but you’ll be more helpful to your clients.
Want to knock it out of the park? Grab even more tips, resources, and more essentials in this:
The Essential Website Prep & Launch Guide
It can get a little overwhelming when starting your web design journey that’s why we have the perfect process (we call it our recipe) that walks you through each step, asks you the right questions, and holds your hand from prep to launch. We’d love to help you build your dream website! Contact us here to get started.
Have a question about any of the steps above? Ask away below. 🙂