The Complete Guide to Building Your First Website
Congratulations, you’re at the stage of needing a website for your business – you’re about to create something amazing! Our Calgary Website Design agency has built a whopping 110+ websites, so we know a thing or two about completing a website from start to finish.
Whether you’re a small business owner needing a functional eCommerce website or a freelancer seeking a dynamic online platform, JYZ Design has got you covered! Creating a website for business purposes is a crucial aspect of navigating today’s digital landscape – it boosts your credibility, generates leads, and increases brand awareness.
Regardless of if you’re planning to build your website yourself, or to work with an agency, our complete guide will outline all the steps to create a professional website – from mission statements to web hosting.
Download our worksheet at the end to ensure you have everything you need!
Develop a Foundational Branding Guide
Foundational branding guides encapsulate the entirety of your business – specifying everything from what fonts to use to what slogans to stick to. By carefully preparing these points, you’ll lay the foundation for a website that effectively represents your brand’s essence:
Do you communicate with customers in a witty tone, and use fun, flashy colours? Or, do you communicate an air of sophistication, paired with clean neutral elements?
A) Coordinate your Communications
- Writing tone
B) Decide on Visuals
- Other identifying elements (graphics, icons, etc.)
Define Your Websites Purpose and Goals
We can’t reach our goals if we can’t define them! Decide if your main goal is to drive sales, raise brand awareness, or do something else. Then, determine the calls to action (CTA’s) that will help you get there. “Shop Now,” or “Learn More?”
Pro Tip: Create a conversion funnel to drive opportunities for soft sales over repeated hard sales. Use blogs, graphics, and other assets to provide value that offers insight, expertise, or tells a story.
Define your Target Audience
Defining your target audience requires you to put yourself in the shoes of your customer. In turn, you’ll end up with a greater understanding of how they will interact with and perceive your business. Think past typical demographic metrics: what are they scared of? What problems do they need solved? What gets them excited?
Answering these questions will ensure that your branding, CTA’s, and overall essence resonates with those you want it to.
Map Your Customer Journey
Similar to defining your target audience, mapping your customer journey is an integral part of connecting with customers. It’s important to consider where your audience is coming to you from, as it will change how you approach the content on the website itself. Mapping your customer journey will determine how you follow up on their first encounter with your brand or product. For example:
A) Social first (Direct-to-Consumer) companies see visitors that already have a level of product awareness from social media. Therefore, place it in your hero image to tell them they’re in the right place, and provide more in-depth info followed by CTA’s to shop.
B) SEO (Search Engine Optimization) first companies depend on high keyword listings. These customers find you on search engines, so your website needs to be optimized for speed and keywords above design.
C) The landing page content for specific ad campaigns should be tailored to your intended ad audience – clearly highlighting the specific offer mentioned in the ad.
Determine and Prepare your Imagery
They say a picture is worth a thousand words! Prioritize high-quality visuals that resonate with your website’s purpose and goals, ensuring a visually appealing and cohesive user experience.
A) Graphics or Illustration: Work with a designer or freelancer to get high-quality, brand-reflective assets to spread throughout your website.
B) Photography: Decide on a style of photography that suits your needs and effectively communicates your message. Then, hire a photographer or start scouring for the best stock you can find.
That being said, working with a professional photographer ensures you have photo assets that are tailored to your needs. At JYZ Design, we can help coordinate and recommend Calgary photographers.
Pro Tip: Organize and label your imagery into easy-to-understand folders and naming conventions, especially if your business is more complicated or multi-faceted.
Create an Elevator Pitch
An elevator pitch serves as an overview of your offerings, providing a literal explanation of what your business provides. Kind of like a pocket-sized version of your mission statement, delivering a snapshot of your value proposition. Your elevator pitch will dictate headers and introductory information on the website as it contains your most important information.
Most website design companies will have copywriters that can help finesse this, but having one you feel best describes your company will educate them. After all, who knows your business better than you?
Gather the Essentials
Your website should function as a platform to gain an understanding of your business and provide answers to customers.
Here are some other examples of information either you or your web designer will require, which may or may not be relevant to your business:
- Hours of operation
- Address of location(s)
- Email(s) for submission forms to go to
- API keys or software logins
- Product pricing, ingredients, nutritional information, etc
- Shipping methods and info
Pro Tip: An easy way to stand out is to offer transparent pricing if applicable!
Research Competitor Websites
Keep track of what you like and dislike. Looking at your competitors is a great way to see how they approached presenting certain information – and to take notes or try and do it better.
Pro Tip: To differentiate your company, you may want to venture outside your industry’s typical copy and graphics style.
If you’re working with an agency or using a drag-and-drop builder, you may not need to dive deep into this. But just in case, web hosting refers to the service you decide to use to store your website. When you build a website, you need to store its files, including text, images, and code, on a server that is connected to the internet.
Many web hosting providers offer a range of plans, so it’s important to do your research and choose a provider that meets your needs and budget. For our WordPress websites, we employ Siteground for its ease of use, great performance and service responsiveness.
Plan for Post-Launch
Create a plan for when your website is up! Will you be posting routine blogs, or updating products? If so, who’s going to be making these updates? Do you need to create user permissions within your team? Another important aspect to consider once your site is up and running is security. Make a backup plan if your site gets hacked, and ensure you have support information. Proactively addressing these potentials and making a long-term plan will see you hit the ground running.
As Calgary web designers, we know how much thought and planning go into creating a website for your business. To ensure you have everything you need, download our website-building worksheet. It’s designed to outline best practices, help you streamline ideas, and ensure every necessary box gets ticked.