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Prepping for your Website Design or Redesign

Wonder what you need to do to get ready for your new website? Get our handy list of must-dos for a successful site build. Be smart – prep and plan ahead! By TheEssentialWebsite.com

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.

You know planning and prepping for your website is the best way to reach your goals by providing a 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 vaca!

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 super powers), 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, set and ready to go!

Prep for your website to-do list:

  • Buy a URL and obtain web hosting: We recommend SiteGround 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? Also, decide where each email will be forwarded. To a gmail account, etc.
  • Choose your colors: Do you have specific colors you use for your brand? If yes, you’ll need the 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 you main text, link color and special heading/accent color. Need help figuring out your HEX codes? Go here, click on the color family you’re looking for and scroll thru the plethora of shades to find the colors you use. If you don’t yet have a brand palette, check out our Pinterest board to get inspiration!
  • Google Fonts: We can be like kids in a candy store when it comes to fonts! They’re so much fun! Do you have a font that you use with your brand (that’s also easy to read)? If yes, see if it’s a Google Font too. You can search for a specific font name, test to see how your text will look in that font (fun) and compare different fonts. If you can’t find the font you want here, use the filters to find something that’s close to what you’re looking for. The Essential Website uses Google Fonts because you can always count on them working (they’re tech & 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!).

    Just like colors, you only need 2 or 3 fonts at most. 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.

  • Find 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.

    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, FAQ’s, 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
  • Ecommerce shop? If yes, start gathering all of your product descriptions, images, pricing, sizes and any other pertinent info 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), this is the company we work with 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 nice. Something that is of value to your visitor. (They don’t hand over their email address to just anyone!) Create the copy you’ll need for your freebie, gather any images, and decide on what you want to give away (tips, steps, chapter 1 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.
  • 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 your thing 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 me form, a form to collect other information (like a testimonial), survey, etc. What questions do you need to ask on each form?
  • Downloads: Will you need clients to download docs or forms to bring with them when they visit you (like a form you take to a first doctor’s visit), etc.? 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 we’ve found 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. A mini 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? Home page, all pages, sidebar, footer only, etc.
    • What do you want in your footer? Your Facebook feed, special links to member only pages, association logos, etc.?

Keep this list and use it to help you get organized!

If you’ve already got some of this done, congrats! You’re ahead of the game!

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.

By doing your prep work, you’ll not only have a better handle of what’s going on, but you’ll be more helpful to your clients.

If you have a question about any of these steps or think of something else that would be great to add let us know below! Thanks! 🙂

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Written by: Stefani and Janet Hi there, we’re Stefani and Janet, co-founders of The Essential Website. We design and code WordPress websites for businesses and bloggers who want to shine online, and we do it with style, strategy and a bit of spunk! We’re both dog lovers, travel enthusiasts, escapers of the 9-5, and proud computer geeks. Thanks for stopping by, we’re so happy to connect with you.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Lauren February 18, 2016, 1:53 pm

    I love how you added “things no one thinks about” since it’s the little details that really complete a site!

    • Janet February 18, 2016, 2:09 pm

      We agree…so many things to think about! Thank you Lauren!

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