7 Pro-Tips: Get the Blueprints Right Before Your Website Contractor Starts Working

House and town plans on lawn (digital composite)
 
Building a website is much like building a house; every little detail matters. Long before you watch contractors pour the foundation concrete, you go over the blueprints with your builder to ensure you get what you want and stay within your budget.

Imagine this: “I want a 2-bedroom 1300 sq. ft. house with 1 bathroom and an open floor plan. I’m on a tight budget, so I want simple, functional, and efficient use of space.” Cool. The builder drafts up your house plans. They’re exactly what you asked for, they fit the lot, and the build falls within your budget. The builder goes to work. He lays a precise foundation and puts up the walls. Plumbers and electricians come and go.

And that’s when you decide you need an extra bathroom. Two bedrooms should have two bathrooms, right? What if you have guests?

You wouldn’t really do that to a builder (we hope)…or if you did, you’d understand that changing something that significant is going to cost a lot more. Walls will have to come down and be rebuilt, the plumbers and electricians will have to come back, and the whole project will take more time.

A Beautiful Buildout is in the Blueprints

Much like building a house, when it comes to building your website, you’re going to want to avoid all the headaches and hassle.

The answer lies in the planning stages. It’s all about crafting blueprints that take both your short-term and long-term marketing strategy and website goals into account. Ok, ok, adding a webpage isn’t like adding a bathroom, but what if you suddenly realize…

So how do you know what to include? How do you even start crafting website blueprints that include everything you need for a site that fits within your budget?

Follow These 7 Tips for Website Blueprint Success…

 

#1: Pick the Right Web Development Team

Trust is everything. An experienced web design/development team has the real-life experience to go over all the pros and cons of your website design, structure, and feature options…before you begin your build. Find a team focused on marketing strategy, rather than website design alone.
 

#2: Be Prepared

When you have that first conversation with your website development team, have your ideas, questions, and budget organized and ready to go. Start with the basic framework, which includes all the must-have items on your list, then go from there. If you’re entirely revamping your website and/or your brand, showing examples of what you’d like to see can be helpful. Note what you like about each example: the colors, layout, speed, features, clean lines, striking images, etc.
 

#3: Be Honest About Your Budget

It’s human nature to lowball, but your contractor needs to know what they’re working with, so they can help you think forward and build out a plan for achieving your goals in affordable steps.
 

#4: Share Your Ideas…ALL of Them

What does your dream website look like? What are all those “it would be SO COOL if we had that” features you’d love to see? Spell everything out to your dev/design team up front. If you have big website dreams, there’s no reason you can’t unfurl them over time so they fit your budget. However, it’s important to respect the scope of each phase of the project. If phase one is building a 2-bedroom house on a budget, don’t be surprised when it lacks a grand entryway with Italian marble tiles.
 

#5: Avoid Committing to a Proprietary Site

Some creative teams will insist you commit to their homegrown web solution…but what you’re really getting is a huge pain in the you-know-what. If your website is built on proprietary software, you’ll have to hire that same development/design team ANY time you want even the smallest update. (That’s how they getcha.) Plus, down the road, when you want to move your website off their servers or software, it’s really going to cost ya. The answer? An open-source CMS platform you can update in-house, any time you want, without permission or help from your web dev team. In most cases, this means working with WordPress, Joomla!, or Drupal.
 

#6: Demand Responsive Design

First and foremost, your website should always be designed with the customer in mind. User experience for both desktop and mobile is your strongest asset. So you need a website that will render beautifully on any device, now and into the future. Mobile is a must these days, but you have options for how to build out your mobile-friendly site. We recommend responsive design. It’s easier to maintain than some other options and much more budget friendly as well. (*Psst: Google recommends responsive design, too!)
 

#7: Again: Plan, Plan, PLAN

Maybe you can’t afford a finished basement from the get-go. However, smart homebuilders lay in the basement electric and plumbing so you don’t have to tear the house apart when you’re ready for that fancy basement. Same goes for your website. Lay the foundation now and build out your website over time. Get the details right up front and you’ll be able to craft a strong website that grows with your business.
 
…and hey, please don’t be this guy.
 
Questions? Comments? Leave a response below!
 
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Not sure if your site is mobile friendly? Use the free and easy Google Mobile-Friendly Test tool to find out. Now’s the time to go mobile, but how? Check out this handy and comprehensive FREE guide to making your website mobile friendly.

Download: The Smart Marketer's Guide To Making Your Website Mobile Friendly
 

5 Great Ways to Turn Site Visitors Into Customers

Web design is a combination of function, form, and beauty. A beautiful website that doesn’t work will chase away your visitors, as will a website loaded with garish or clashing colors. You can’t neglect content either. Great, effective website design pulls it all together and your customers will appreciate your effort.

In effect, your website is your company. You can’t just design a website that looks good, it has to be informative, well-laid out, mobile-friendly, and easy to navigate. Here are 5 ways to turn site visitors into customers.

5 Great Ways to Turn Website Visitors Into Customers

 

1. Avoid Bad Design Trends

Website trends come and go, so it’s important to ensure your site design is built to benefit your company over the long haul.

Certain assumptions are dangerous, such as:

  • Your site visitors are web savvy and will recognize icons (and know where to look for them).
  • Your site visitors know who you are and what you do.
  • Your beautiful photos will have more impact on visitors than words.

One of the most important elements of design is ease of navigation. Visitors who can’t find what they’re looking for will bounce in seconds.

 

2. Identify Yourself

When a user visits your site, they aren’t always sure they’re in the right place. Meta descriptions will help qualify before they click over to your business from search engine results—and when they arrive on your website, your home or landing page should be specific. Offer a value proposition statement that clearly defines exactly what you do.

For example, if you search Google for “food distributors,” you’ll find Gordon Food Services. The meta description is masterful. It describes exactly what they do, the areas they serve, and what to expect on the website.

gfs

You’ll also find KeHe Distributors, LLC:

kehe

What do they do? Where are they located? Are they even in the food industry? Hard to say.

Meta descriptions are short, but they can be incredibly informative. Identify your purpose and your value proposition on every page to attract the right visitors. Then deliver what you promise. Don’t make customers dig for information.

 

3. Plan the Look and Feel

Your brand colors and company logo must be consistent across your marketing materials and social media—and that includes your website. Color choice is a critical component of brand identity. Strategic planning includes establishing a color palette to be used across all channels.

Other design elements include font choices, spacing, and layout. Typography choices also improve (or ruin) readability, so be sure to keep the big picture in mind when planning the details.

 

4. Make It Mobile Friendly

Every website should be mobile friendly nowadays, especially since Google’s April 2015 algorithm update. Not sure if your site is mobile friendly? Use the free and easy Google Mobile-Friendly Test tool to find out.

Did your site return a “Not mobile-friendly” result? Then now’s the time to go mobile, but how? Check out this handy and comprehensive FREE guide to making your website mobile friendly.

Download: The Smart Marketer's Guide To Making Your Website Mobile Friendly

There’s just no excuse for not adopting responsive design. Planning for mobile design from the start saves you from extensive (and expensive!) retooling later. Learn more about responsive design and other mobile-friendly design options by downloading this free mobile-friendly website guide.

 

5. Fill Your Website with Content

Content might prove your most difficult challenge. Know the difference between copy and content and always choose quality over quantity. You’ll be better off building an authoritative source slowly than filling your website with hastily written fluffy crud.

Web design means crafting a functional and attractive interface that guides your visitors where they want to go—and where you want them to go. Design strategy is identifying your website, sales and marketing goals, then setting a clear direction to tie together every aspect of layout, look, feel, and function to make it happen.

Plan well and your website will support your marketing strategy and increase your conversions. Searchers will know what to expect before they click your link and when they arrive at your page they’ll find what they were searching for right away. In-depth information and well placed CTAs will guide your visitors and encourage them to stay, explore, join, and tell their friends.