Marketing + Communications

7 things you need to do when building a new website

As we approach the tail end of 2023, some of you will be thinking ahead to the new year and what’s in store for you and your business. Perhaps you’re even thinking of entering into the new year with a fresh new look and digital presence. Like all aspects of life, times change and things that were great a decade ago can look a bit tired and out of date in the present day. In this sense, your website is a kind of wearable part that will require some love and attention every blue moon. This way, it keeps you relevant, keeps you modern and puts your best foot forward when your target market finds you online.

The (supposed) lull that accompanies the arrival of January is a popular time to put thinking caps on and put digital pens to digital paper. If you are thinking about embarking on a redesign of your website during this period, the time to start planning for it is now, right before the Christmas mania hits. In this short blog, we’re going to highlight the steps you should take to ensure a smooth and successful website build.

Save yourself time, money and effort by avoiding mistakes and making a plan for success.

It’s the 21st century and we live in a digital world. Where the bricks and mortar used to be the hub of your business, the website now reigns supreme. Our digital economy is set up such that you can position your website to attract and convert customers from the comfort of their own homes.

With such power at your fingertips, you’d be stark raving mad not to give it the care and attention it deserves. While building or redesigning a website can seem like a daunting task for the tech-averse, there are ample resources and accessible options out there to make your build a success.

While the world of website design is more accessible than ever via content management systems like WordPress and Squarespace, there’s still an art to delivering a beautiful, user-friendly and high-functioning website. While it might be tempting to do it in-house, there are some things you really need an expert for…

First things first…

The first – and possibly the most important thing – to consider is your website building team. This is definitely not just one person.

You need to hire:

  • A designer. Someone who understands your audience, your business and how websites work. Sometimes this is a great strategic marketer, sometimes that person describes themselves as a ‘user experience’ professional. Sometimes you need both.

  • A website builder. Often called a developer. This is the person with the technical skills to take the design intent and build it, whether that’s in Squarespace, WordPress, Craft CMS or anything else.

  • A graphic designer. You need good visuals that catch your audience’s attention, present your business properly and bring it all to life. This is a far more skilled job than a person with basic Photoshop capabilities.

  • A copywriter. It’s the words that pull your website visitor in and move them on. We cannot overstate the importance of a professional website copywriter.

  • A project manager. Building a website is complicated. There are many, many moving parts; thousands of small pieces; a whole bunch of very different people; and a load of technical pieces that need to knit together.

Or you could just hire an agency to do it for you.

1) Build your website with the user in mind

Before you even think about the visual elements of your website, you need to start thinking about the journey of your web visitors.

Sometimes also called user experience or UX for short, it’s essentially about getting your users from point A to point B. In short, you want to think about the pages they’re likely to land on first, the pages they might want to look at to scope out your business and the pages they’ll need to visit if they want to become a paying customer or client.

For many websites, this will be a very simple mapping process. It’ll simply be a process of interlinking your pages effectively, ensuring the menu navigation bar is appropriately labelled and easily visible and ensuring your calls to action are given prominence and are easily accessible from every page.

If you’re operating a more complex site, you’ll need to spend more time on this and very clearly map out the journey. This is particularly relevant if you’re operating a complex e-commerce site. However, if that’s the kind of website you’re building, you’re unlikely to be building the site on your own. This is where a web design team specialising in e-commerce websites are worth their weight in gold.

2) Research your audience

Before you put fingers to keyboard and palm to mouse, you’ll need to put in the work required to define your audience and develop a picture of their behaviours, needs and desires. If you’re already an established brand, you should already have this information through your brand work. If you’re a new brand, it’s a chance to kill two birds with one stone.

Ultimately, by defining your audience and their needs, you’re developing a blueprint on how to access their hearts and minds. Through understanding them, you’ll develop strategies on how to talk to them, persuade them and set up your website to serve their needs.

By way of an example, if you’re an architecture firm specialising in bespoke domestic projects, your target market is likely to be 40+, and on a high income. They’re also likely to have a fairly defined set of criteria when it comes to selecting an architect. They’ll want to know that you’re capable of delivering their vision and will be keen to see your previous work.

All of this gives you a lot of information when it comes to your website. A big priority for you is going to be presenting case studies or portfolio pieces about your previous work. Beautiful photography, evocative project stories and person-focused video testimonials will yield a lot of power when it comes to persuading your target audience of your abilities.

3) Design a beautiful website

A website is nothing without a well thought out user journey or audience analysis, and those should be the elements you address as a matter of priority. However, the visual design of your content is incredibly important when it comes to giving your website the slick and professional visuals that will lure in your audience.

If you have the money to do so, having a professionally developed brand guidelines document will give you all the collateral you need to deliver a beautiful website. From colour schemes, logos, image guidelines and even fonts, everything will be decided for you. Many smaller outfits will try to decide these things on the fly, but you do yourself a disservice when you don’t give enough thought to these decisions.

Remember, an unprofessional website will switch your target market off and send them to your competitors. While hiring an agency to assist with your branding might require an initial investment, it will undoubtedly save you money in the long run.

If you’re planning to do it on your own, the main thing is consistency and brand relevance. Ensure you have a set colour scheme, pick your fonts for headers and paragraphs and use them the same across different pages, and be consistent with how you use your imagery and logo. Your website should be a mirror that reflects your deepest brand values, your mission and your vision for the future. You can either pull your audience in so they emotionally invest in your brand, or drive them away with an unprofessional, inconsistent mess of a website.

4) Build SEO best practice into your website

There are many different ways your target market might find your website. They might already know about and type in your address manually, they might be a returning customer or you might pay for some PPC or ad space. These are all viable and lucrative means of bringing your target market to your website.

However, if you’re looking to bring in new customers from search engines, you’re going to want to optimize your website for organic search. Organic traffic (where someone clicks on your web address on a search engine results page) is a fantastic way to bring in new customers and clients who aren’t already aware of you.

The good news about SEO is that it can be done by anyone with basic technical knowledge. The bad news is that its time consuming and requires constant effort. It’s not a matter of doing something once and resting on your laurels. You’re in a constant arms race with your competitors to dominate the top spot, so you have to dedicate yourself to the art.

To get started, it’s all about finding the terms that apply to your area of expertise and are likely to bring in high-quality leads. To use the architect example, you might be targeting terms such as ‘Architects in Manchester’ or ‘Luxury architects’.

To figure out what terms are best, you’re going to want to make use of some third-party tools to help you. Google Analytics and Google Search Console are great free tools that require a bit of extra set-up than the paid tools like SEMRush, but they can pay dividends when given adequate attention, particularly when your website has been up and running for a while.

We’ve previously delivered a blog on SEO for construction companies. While it has a narrow industry focus, the advice there applies to every business. Check it out for a more in-depth look at SEO practices.

5) Write persuasive, brand-friendly copy

Copy, content; whatever you prefer to call it, is central to a successful website. Clear, concise and to the point copy is what will help your customers understand your business and your service, and well-informed, benefit-rich copy will be the thing that converts them to paying customers/clients.

Again, much of this will tie in with the audience research you’ve done. By understanding their needs and desires, you know what benefits to sell. Remember, people always want to know what’s in it for them. They want to understand how you will improve their lives or business. Once you demonstrate that, they’ll be ready to act. You can check out the following nifty guide on web content that produces action.

Your copy is also the perfect place to build a brand tone of voice. Again, this is an element that should’ve been defined during your audience research. For example, if you’re target market is 18-30, youthful, exuberant copy with a spot of cheekiness could serve you well. However, if you’re the architecture firm we mentioned previously, you’re going to want to appear human, but also highly professional, articulate and informed.

6) Nail the call to action and use direct response methods

Closely tied to the copy you produce is the call to action. This is simply the action you ask your potential customer/client to take in order to hire you or buy something from you. Essentially, it’s what all the copy you’ve delivered so far is leading up to. Everything is designed to get your site visitors to convert into paying customers/clients.

To make sure you get the conversion rate you want, you’ll need to ensure you get the calls to action in the right place. If you’re looking for clients to hire you, ‘contact us’ or ‘arrange a consultation’ or ‘hire me’ are the kind of terms you’re going to want to use.

Obviously, if you’re selling a product, you’ll use CTAs like ‘buy now’, ‘add to basket’ or ‘checkout’.

In short, make it obvious that these terms are how your site visitors can take their enquiry/desire to the next stage.

Delving into the copywriting side of things again, you can sweeten the deal with your CTAs. You can do this by tying a benefit to the action. For example, instead of just ‘contact us’, you could use, ‘Take a step towards a breath taking new home and contact us today’.

Alternatively, you can sweeten the deal with a freebie. This could be as simple as saying, ‘contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation’.

Finally, you’re going to want to ensure your CTA is easily accessible from every main page of your website, especially those pages where you’re site visitor is likely to be persuaded by your words.

7) Wow your audience with great visual content

Finally, you want to start adding decorations. The metaphorical cherry on top of your digital cake. High-quality photography, compelling video and intuitive graphics are all elements of a fantastic website. The more of this kind of collateral you have, the better your website will be for it.

From your team pictures, to product listings and portfolio pieces, the quality of your visual collateral will directly translate into better outcomes for your conversion rate. Use high quality images – nothing is worse than unsightly pixelation, and where possible, hire a professional photographer to really capture your projects and people. It could be the pièce de résistance in your fantastic new website.

Delivering a high-quality website is now more accessible than it’s ever been. If you’re in a position where you need to do it yourself, there are options out there that make it easier for you to accomplish a good result. However, just like you could apply the DIY approach to so many things, there’s no substitute for getting the professionals in. In a busy marketplace and with the importance placed on websites in the modern age, outsourcing your website build to an agency is a fantastic way to ensure success.

If you’re building a new website or redesigning an existing one, contact Luma Marketing for a no-obligation consultation. With our help, your website will have your target market hanging on your every word.

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