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
 

Is Your Web Design Killing Your Marketing?

Your most valuable digital business asset is your website. The ROI of your online marketing strategy depends on the quality of your visitor experience.

The bottom line of every marketing strategy is conversion. When a visitor lands on your website, you want him to take action: sign up for your email list, learn something that will aid a buying decision, click through to your advertisers, buy, donate, or join.

Web design can either help or hinder your efforts. Here are the most common ways web design might be killing your marketing.

Web design can either help or hinder your efforts. Here are the most common ways web design might be killing your marketing.

 

1. Your Website Isn’t Mobile Friendly

Decision-makers are researching buying decisions online—and if your website isn’t mobile friendly, they not even going to find you on search. If they do run across your website and it’s not mobile friendly, frustration will send 61% of your visitors racing to your competitors. A mobile-friendly responsive design improves your search rank and increases time spent on your site.

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

 

2. Your Color Choices are Inconsistent…or just plain wrong

Color is more important in buying decisions than you might imagine. Color influences how customers perceive and react to your brand. If your colors are sending the wrong message or if they’re different on every page of your website, you’re losing visitors and worse, damaging your brand.

 

3. Your Images are Boring

Everybody uses stock images, but they don’t have to look like a bad day in a cubicle farm.

Vince Vaughn and the cast of Unfinished Business posing for every generic stock photo ever.

Vince Vaughn and the cast of Unfinished Business posing for every generic stock photo ever.

Spice things up! Choose colorful concept images that relate to your topic and draw attention. Images take up a lot of page real estate, so make them count.

 

4. You Have a Case of Font Madness

Pick a nice font and stick with it. Don’t get fancy and don’t go crazy with a lot of different fonts. Sans-serif fonts, like Arial and Calibri, are easier to read on a screen. Make it a readable size (16 pt minimum) and ensure your kerning and line heights are properly adjusted so your site offers up even, readable spacing between letters and lines.

 

5. Your Site Lacks Information

Few things annoy web visitors more than a mystery homepage that offers no clue as to what your business is about. You have literally seconds to grab a visitor’s attention. Use that first impression to spotlight your value proposition. What makes your business stand out?

 

6. You’ve Hidden the Navigation

Do your customers have to hover over a symbol or scroll to the bottom of the page to find website sections? Why would you want to make your prospects work to find what they’re looking for? Ensure your navigation is clear and easy to find.

 

7. Your Landing Pages are Random

When users click a compelling call to action (CTA), they expect to find exactly what you promised to deliver. Your link should take them directly to the information they seek.

 

8. You’re a One-Page Wonder

When a visitor hits your site, they want more than a brochure. You need plenty of informational content to engage and enlighten your visitors. Don’t skimp on your site content—and remember: it’s about quality, not quantity, so ensure you have helpful, relevant, and well-written information.

 

9. You Cheaped Out

There are a lot of DIY point-and-click websites on the market. If you don’t have a budget and it’s your best option, go for it. If, on the other hand, you’re a thriving business just looking to save money on something you think “anybody” could just throw together, strongly consider how your website affects your long-term sales and marketing strategy.

 

Your website is an investment in your business—and it’s worth it. It’s the only front door to your business some consumers will ever see. To support your marketing efforts and earn those important conversions, ensure your website is complete, attractive, and easy to navigate on any device.

 

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