Dear Business Builders,
Designing a website to achieve success with digital marketing goes far beyond on aesthetics. To strategically build a website that is going to propel your business forward and act as an asset rather than an ongoing expense, you are going to need a killer website design strategy. Something a little more than your nephews web design. Sorry kiddo.
The following write-up is an in house web design strategy that we typically use at Get X Media to cover the essential components in almost any website design project.
An in-depth checklist is required to ensure all essential factors are covered to meet the goals of the business. A strategy is critical to the development of a functional, aesthetic, responsive, and purpose-driven website that converts visitors into customers.
The following 20 point killer website design process goes in depth and will provide you with the insights, tools, and resources that you will need if you are looking to embark on this journey yourself. Please let me know if we have missed anything as we always love to hear your feedback.
1. Website Design Strategy
Website design is exciting and sometimes you want to jump right into making your brand look awesome online. However, to create an impactful first impression on visitors or potential customers, you must design your website with a well-researched approach. Keep your customers top of mind through the entire website design process.
Several factors need attention when drafting a website design plan to ensure it delivers what you actually want from it. Many new entrepreneurs embark on their first website design journey with the goal in mind of growing their business.
I want to clear this up right now. Just because you have a gorgeous looking website online does not mean all of a sudden you are going to have a swarm of wallet open customers calling your business.
You will need to market your website and drive traffic through social media marketing, search engine optimization, digital advertising, and other channels. The traffic you generate through your marketing efforts then needs to be directed through high converting landing pages in order to achieve a steady flow of customers for your business.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because you have a business means that you will have customers.
Digital marketing done properly can change the entire landscape of a business and comes with incredible rewards. If you are building a website to grow your business, then your website should stand as a digital sales asset that consistently increases sales and drives new customers.
Do not embark on website design without this in mind and without a well thought out strategy.
Throughout this article, I am going to explain some key points of our Get X Website Design strategy in detail. One of the first things to do is answer a series of questions that will pave the way for success throughout the website design process.
Why do you want a website?
There is a massive difference between building a website to sell your customers your products or services and building a website to educate people in your industry. Are you trying to get more phone calls or are you trying to get people to schedule appointments? Are you trying to sell a product through e-commerce or are you trying to get your visitors to subscribe to an email list?
You will want to be very clear about the purpose of your website. I am sorry to say it but “I just want to have my business online” isn’t going to grow your business. Establish this in the beginning because it will change everything from how your content is written and how your pages are designed.
What kind of website will serve your intended purpose?
There are service-based business websites, booking websites, e-commerce websites, blogs, portfolio websites, magazine websites, directories, social networks, and the list goes on. The blessing of the internet is that you can create almost anything you want. Knowing the purpose of your website, what functionality it will need, and how it will serve your business and your customers will be your guiding light through the website design process.
If you had everything you wanted out of your website right now, what would it be?
This is a very powerful question because it forces you to start with the end in mind. Brainstorming through an exercise like this is extremely helpful. Knowing the end goal allows you to reverse engineer the final product you’re working to create. Think of what motivated you to build a website, analyze your business goals, and be specific. Here are a couple of basic examples…
- I want 15 phone calls a day from homeowners looking to replace their hot water tank in Calgary.
- I want a fully packed 20 person yoga class every Thursday.
Once you know what you want and who you want it from, it’s time to move onto the next step.
2. Customer Research
Personally, I think this is something that most marketing professionals lack. Many marketers will check your competitor’s websites, understand your business goals, and build a good looking website, but, completely drop the ball when it comes to taking the time to understand your customers. Un-arguably, the single most important thing in business.
Find out what your customers are talking about in relation to your industry.
To know what your customers are talking about, you need to dive deep into reading what they are saying about your industry. Read good and bad industry reviews from competitors, search in forums, and check social networking groups for insight into what they are thinking.
Understand and fix your customers problems.
It is ironic to me, many marketing professional spend an incredible amount of time on creatives and brainstorming content development. What the good marketers realize is that through some simple research tactics, you can find exactly what your customers want coming straight from their own mouths or “keyboards”.
Quick example: You find through looking at competitors reviews in a service industry that there is an incredible amount of complaints about how service technicians are never on time. GREAT! Take that as insight and include in your content that your service technicians are incrediblly respectful of customers time, you understand your customers don’t like to wait around, and you send updates to your customers so they know exactly when you will be arriving.
Can you see how powerful some simple customer research can be in this situation? You never know what you might find. Taking this approach allows a business to speak directly to a problem conversation that a customer is currently having.
Make customer research a priority for your business instead of jumping straight into website design and your content begins to write itself. When you do this, the website design process becomes that much easier, and your website will reward you by converting visitors into paying customers.
Check Websites Offering Similar Products or Services.
Visit websites that offer similar products or services. Look at their design elements, layouts, and presentations of the offers. You don’t always have to reinvent the wheel. Sometimes you can take what is clearly working for someone else and then improve on it with your own perspective.
3. Gather Website and Brand Assets
You cannot start designing a website without having the necessary content, media, and design elements. It is essential to know that the quality of your website cannot be better than the quality of content and media used to build it.
Gather all photos, content, and all media assets you will need for the website.
Your website requires some assets that will showcase your business to your customers in the why what you see fit. For starters, have your logo designed professionally, use professional photos, and write compelling content all with your customer in mind. Always ensure that the resources you are gathering are related to your original purpose.
If necessary, acquire copyright permissions or purchase licenses from the owners of the media materials you intend to use. In over 15 years of website development I have never been hit once with a sieze and dessist letter but stealing other peoples media is terrible practice in the industry.
The more preparation invested into your media assets and the gathering of your website content will be a determining factor for how easy and fast your website will be to develop.
Organize and optimize your media, including file names and image sizes.
Optimize your media appropriately for website development. This means resizing your images to ensure that your website speed is not affected negatively by large file sizes. While you are optimizing your files, you will also want to take this time to rename your files add meta-information pertaining to the specific keyword you are targeting if search engine optimization is apart of your digital marketing strategy.
This brings us to our next part of your website design strategy.
4. Keyword Research
Keywords are search terms or phrases that people input into search engines when looking for products, services, or information online. Only websites that are optimized with such keywords will appear in the search engine results.
The better the content and the more optimized the website is for search engines will determine where the page will rank in Google. Keep in mind competition is rampant so take the time to search for keywords you would want to rank for and look at the competitors.
You are going to want to hire a search engine optimization professional if you are looking to hold top rankings on Google. As a start however, you can follow the steps below to assist you in determining what keywords you should be targeting.
Find out watch search terms your customers are using in Google.
Keyword research is crucial to the success of any website looking to rank on Google through SEO.
According to statistics, Google processed over 3.5 billion searches daily in 2019. Also, Google has about 92% of the search engine market share. If you want your website to be ranked in the Google search engine result pages (SERPs), you need to know the appropriate search terms that your customers are using in order to get the greatest impact from your efforts.
There are several ways to uncover the keywords used by people to find products, services, or information that they have an interest in.
Google Keyword Planner is free.
Google keyword planner is a useful free toolfor advertisers to research keywords and search traffic. You will need a Google Ads account.
You can locate keyword planner under Tools and Settings in the planning segment. Choose “Discover new Keywords” to find search terms that people are looking for in your industry. Whether for SEO or PPC Advertising, Google keyword planner will give you some great insights.
Here you can find the Google Keyword Planner.
Ahrefs and SEM Rush are Paid options with more power.
Ahrefs and SEMRush are paid tools you can also use for keywords research. Both software tools offer users more information than Google Keyword Planner.
Both Ahrefs and SEMRush can be used in keyword research and to optimize your website for search engines. In addition to keyword research, they can be used to improve many other technical areas of a website. Data speaks volumes and these companies have a lot of it!
These powerful tools provide in-depth information about each keyword and show how difficult it is to rank for on Google. They also provide key information about your competitor websites and open up a whole new world to search engine optimization that I will not get into in this article. Let’s stick to website design.
5. Competitor Research
When crafting a killer website design strategy, evaluate your competitors’ websites and marketing strategies. Analyze the weaknesses and strengths of your competitors. Improve on their ideas. You, undoubtedly, will learn some lessons and mistakes to avoid.
Your competitor research should be comprehensive to take full advantage of the information at your disposal.
Research the top competitors ranking for your search terms.
Take the time to search on Google and see who is holding the top spots in your industry. Most likely they have invested into search engine optimization if they are holding those top spots. Analyze their strategies, marketing tactics, and level of engagement with their site visitors. What are the tactics they are using to call their customers into taking action through their website?
Assess Competitors’ Social Media Presence and Other Platforms.
Another critical aspect of competitor research is social media. Check their Facebook Pages, Twitter handles, Instagram accounts, YouTube channels, and Google My Business listings.
Examine the content they are using throughout their profiles. Is there something that you could use or improve upon? This research will help you better place yourself in the market and give you actionable insights into preparing your marketing tactics.
Textual content convinces visitors on your site to take action. Copywriting is the art of writing text aimed to educate or sell your product or service to potential customers.
Good copywriting is essential to the success in converting visitors into paying customers and also for ranking in search engines. You may have to outsource this task to professionals to capture the purpose of your business and convince people to do business with you.
Write your website content with your customers in mind.
When writing your advertisement copy, keep your customers in mind. Your content should communicate, persuade, convince, and convert visitors to customers. If you have done the customer research properly and know your industry, you should have no problems coming up with what to cover.
Is it direct response copy or educational copy?
Copywriting requires identifying your audience or customers and addressing them appropriately. Choose between direct response copywriting that aims at getting an immediate response from visitors or educational copywriting that focuses on inspiring trust and confidence in the reader. You should decide the right copywriting style to choose for each piece of content your business publishes.
E-A-T and YMYL content guidelines by Google
Google has human search operators as well as a complex algorithm to read through the content of your website and determine if your website should be ranked as a top choice for the user’s search term.
YMYL (Your Money Your Life) as stated by the Search Engine Journal…
Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) content is the type of information that, if presented inaccurately, untruthfully, or deceptively, could directly impact the reader’s happiness, health, safety, or financial stability.
In other words, the stakes are high for this type of content. If you create a YMYL page with bad advice or bad information, it could affect people’s lives and livelihood.
EAT (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) as stated by the Search Engine Journal…
- Expertise: This refers to the creator of the main content (MC) on the page. Are they an expert on the topic? Do they have the credentials, if necessary, to back that up, and is this information available to read on the website?
- Authoritativeness: This refers to the MC creator, the content itself, and the website on which it appears. The definition of “authoritativeness” gives us a big clue on what this means to Google and websites:
- Trustworthiness: The “Trustworthiness” part of E-A-T also refers to the MC creator, the content, and the website.
7. Website Builders
Selecting a website builder is a huge topic of conversation for DIY business owners. You should consider ease of use, your business’ needs and priorities, SEO capabilities, and the available scalability if your business is going to grow.
Start with the end in mind. A simple website builder may get you online and a basic website off the ground but when it comes time to invest in further marketing to may be looking at an entirely new website design.
Prioritize aesthetics, functionality, user experience, and expandability when choosing a website builder.
According to our experience, WordPress is the clear winner
If you consider the amount of functionality that you have to scale your website with, you would realize that WordPress is the right website builder that holds over 35% of the website market share on the internet (w3 Techs).
WordPress has an incredible amount of ever-expanding options and allows the use of multiple plugins to enhance your site’s functionality. WordPress itself is open-source and free for public use. However, there are premium plugins that may need to be purchased in order to get the proper functionality that you are looking for. Unlike with many other site builders, WordPress give you this option to expand and grow as your business does.
Other website builders
There are plenty of other website builders you can consider like WIX, GoDaddy, and Squarespace, or several others. However, none of them comes close to WordPress. They don’t have the same functionality because they have been simplified for easier building experiences. The result, you lose a lot of the functionality required to complete necessary search engine optimization efforts or generate high converting landing pages for digital advertising.
That being said, with WordPress you will need to indulge in a learning curve because their are many added features you miss with other site builders. Another important fact, because wordpress is best used self-hosted, you are going to need a hosting provider to get your website online.
8. Hosting Providers
The website hosting provider you select is crucial to your website’s performance. Some factors are essential to selecting a suitable hosting provider. You must prioritize speed, support, and security.
Hosting services are available at different prices, depending on what level of service is required. The pricing ranges from a few dollars a month to hundreds of dollars per month. To cover the basics, you will want to ensure that you have daily backups being done, your website is live at least 99% of the time, your hosting can handle the traffic the website gets, and that you have communication channels in case of an issue.
We use Siteground; however, there are other options.
We use SiteGround web hosting services. There are thousands of hosting companies you can host your website with. Look for speed, security, and support when making a choice. Do not sacrifice your site’s performance or lack of a phone number just to save a few dollars on hosting.
We wrote an article on that here: Website Speed: Winning the War on the World Wide Wait
If you are a beginner, always choose a company that has excellent support so they can help you through the processes if you have any difficulties. Ensure that you get daily backups and security with your hosting in case of any malicious issues.
9. WordPress Installation
Installing WordPress can get technical for those not experienced in coding. However, most hosting providers offer one-click installation of WordPress, and many of them offer to set this up for free when you choose to host your website with them.
10. WordPress Premium Plugins
Most websites come with standard features and design options. If you are looking to add better functionality and design elements, some additional costs for developers or paid plugins will be required to get you where you want to be.
We have invested thousands of dollars into premium software that we use with every website design that we do at Get X Media.
11. Creative Website Design
Now that we have covered all the preparation it takes to build a proper website for a business, we can begin the design process of the pages. Website design seems a daunting task for several people.
However, designing a website has become comfortable with little or no difficulties, as you do not need to have coding knowledge to prepare an essential site.
Design the website with your customers in mind.
Some of the leading-edge premium design tools for WordPress based websites are Divi Builder and Elementor Builder. However, there are some free WordPress themes or frameworks available.
When building, dont forget to set up a “coming soon page” so that nobody can see your website while you are working on the design. In order to setup this page in WordPress you may need to install a free plugin from the plugin repository in the dashboard.
A quick note about SEO when creating your pages, use a plugin like Yoast SEO or RankMath for help with setting your website up for search engines.
12. Additional Design Assets
Since you have already gone through and organized your media and assets previously while planning your website, this step should be ready for you to start designing the layout of your website.
Undoubtedly, you may run into a situation where you are missing something or would like to add something was not previously thought of.
At Get X Media, we use the Adobe suite of products including Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere, ect. Premium software allows you to do a lot more during our website design process but require some extensive training. However, here are a couple of free tools to help design specific assets or download royalty free commercial images to use throughout your website design.
Unsplash is a great free resource for finding royalty-free commercial stock photography. The site has an extensive collection of high-quality images that you can use.
Canva is a free app and resources to design custom graphics online for beginners. You can use the application to create posters, social media graphics, and a lot more. It has an extensive collection of fonts and templates for use at absolutely no charge.
13. Mobile + Desktop Compatibility Test
Once you have built your website, you will want to make your website is desktop and mobile compatible. The website should provide a user experience tailored to the device they are using to access it.
Most WordPress themes or website builders today come with mobile compatibility in mind but it is always important to test your content and ensure it works correctly on both Mobile and Desktop. Correct any issues there may be in the design for either of the platforms.
14. Custom Email Addresses
Most likely, you are going to want a custom email address at yournewdomain.com. So ensure that you have that setup and it is working. We recommend using G Suite for small business owners. Custom email at yourdomain.com speaks volumes about your professionalism and credibility.
15. Live Website Testing
Push your website live and then do a final test of your site again to make sure it is customers ready. At Get X Media, we call this a soft launch. This will allow you to see how your website will appear and perform when visited by visitors. This is typically a time to send the link to some close contacts for review and feedback.
16. Google Search Console
Just because you have taken the time to built your website and it is now online, your work is not complete. Many website designers stop here and leave a customer wondering why their website is not showing up in search engines.
It is crucial to create a sitemap file for your website and submit it to the Google Search Console. This allows you to control your site the way the search engine bots will crawl your site.
Creating your sitemap is available in either the Yoast SEO or Rankmath plugins we mentioned earlier.
17. Google Analytics Tracking
Setup Google Analytics so you can track the visitors to your website. To us, it is mandatory when doing any digital marketing to track anything and everything you think will hep you make better informed marketing decisions.
18. Technical Website SEO Audit
SEO technical audit of your website involves checking the technical aspects of a website’s SEO. The inspection aims to identify errors with your site. Run a third-party technical SEO audit to ensure that the structure of your website was built to Google standards.
This will enable you to fix any errors that you see. Ahrefs and SEMRush are premium tools that help with this however through a simple Google search you can find a third party SEO software audit to check over your website and see if there are any errors.
19. Website Performance Audit
Run your website through GT Metrix, Google Page Speed Insights, and Pingdom Page Speed Tools to ensure you have a fast loading website. If your website does not load in under 3-5 seconds, you may want to dig deep into optimizing for speed. You can do this yourself if you are technically inclined, or there are premium options like WP Rocket that will help you.
Read this article for more information on page speed: Faster Website Load Times: Win the War on the World Wide Wait
20. Ongoing Online Marketing Strategies
As a business owner, you are supposed to equip yourself with digital marketing knowledge. You should have basic knowledge and skills in digital marketing. If you got this far and want to move forward on marketing your business with new website check out: 10 Free Post Website Marketing Tactics for Business Builders.
21. Leave a Comment
Thank you kindly for taking the time to read this, If you feel we have missed something please add a comment below we also love to hear your feedback.