Website setup… where do I start?

 Website setup

You really want a slick new website, somewhere to connect with your audience and share your talents, but just thinking about the setup has your brain tied in knots! There are so many themes, so many websites around that look awesome, but how do you get started?

Here’s some questions to get you thinking and planning, and shine a spotlight on what you need.

Focus & Purpose:

Get clear on your website’s purpose; what do you want to achieve from it? Are you a coach looking to increase bookings? Do you have a product or service to sell? Is it a blog to begin with, with the objective of growing your audience?

Having a clear vision for what you want to accomplish will help enormously with the next steps. Write down your goals and be really specific.

Functionality:

How do you want people to engage with your site? Will they schedule appointments with you, or purchase ebooks and other downloadable content?

Which social media platforms do you use, and how should they integrate? For example, if you use Twitter and Facebook a lot to interact with your community, you wouldn’t necessarily want to have both feed back to your website – you’ll end up with lot of content being duplicated. Instead, perhaps have your Twitter or Instagram feed on your site, and push blog posts or other links to Facebook, encouraging readers to click back to the website.

Do you need a gallery or portfolio to showcase your work? Maybe a private membership area for course content?

List out all your desires and then try to pare it back to the essentials, remembering you can always add the “nice to have” functionality later. Keep it simple so you don’t feel overwhelmed.

Content Map:

Once you have set your vision, and worked out the functionality you want, next map out what content you need and how it should be laid out.

Start with the home page, will your audience land on your blog, or a killer image with your tagline and sign-up box, keeping other content minimal?

Write out a rough plan of the major headings you want for your navigation menu, then break those down further to each sub-heading. Keep it clear and logical. At this stage, you don’t need to have all your content defined, so don’t let it take forever! Just include a few points or a sentence to describe the purpose of each area.

Design:

Now for the fun part, what would you love it to look like? It’s easy to be overwhelmed at this point, start by coming up with 4 or 5 reference sites that you really like, then write down what elements of each you are attracted to. Perhaps you like the overall look of one but not the colour scheme used. Look out for the kind of menu layout that appeals, as well as how each site functions, does it scroll all in one page like Tumblr?

Also consider the images you would use and where they fit. Visualise and sketch it out if you can, it helps to get it out of your head, no matter how bad you think your drawing skills are!

Next Steps:

Are you going to setup your own site? Or just want someone else to handle it for you while you do your real work? Start to think about hosting and setup options and do some research, more posts to come on how to approach this, as well as tips on what to look out for when choosing a theme.

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