In this guide, I’m breaking down my 7-step process to creating beautiful websites that convert. As you’ll see, design and development is only one step of the process. Many people, both DIYers and web designers, make the mistake of skipping straight to the design part and glossing over all the strategy work. Unfortunately, the most beautiful website is completely useless if it doesn’t create measurable results in your business. And the only way to create results is through strategy, followed by intentional design.
Keep reading to learn how to utilize both strategy and design to create a website that generates leads for your business.
P.S. Scroll to the bottom for a handy infographic.
1. Establish clear goals and objectives
Before you create a website, it’s important to understand why you’re creating it. What is the purpose of your website? The easy answer is “to generate leads,” or “to sell my services.” But let’s dig a little deeper. If the main focus of your website is sales, there are a couple things to take into consideration. One is your current closing rate for sales, and the other is the amount of traffic your website gets (or that you estimate it’s going to get, if this is your first website). Armed with these two numbers, you can calculate how many leads you need to generate through your website in order to reach your sales goal. From there you can strategize how to convert your website visitors into leads. Do you offer free consultations? Can you create a free info product to exchange for their email address? A combination of the two? Understanding the goals and objectives of your website will help you to create content and systems that create tangible results for your business.
2. Analyze your competitors
The value of competitor analysis when it comes to web design is twofold: it helps you see what’s working well in your industry, and it also helps you strategize how to stand out. Make a list of your top competitors and check out their websites. What kind of imagery and language do they use? How do they collect leads for their business? Is there a noticeable gap in the industry that you can fill? What do you offer that the other guys don’t? As much as you can learn from your competitors, it’s just as important to learn what not to do and brainstorm ways to differentiate your brand.
3. Create a content framework
You can’t create a website without content. This step can be a sticking point for a lot of people that delays the whole project, often indefinitely. If that’s you, don’t feel bad! It’s hard to know what to say on your website and how to say it when you’re just staring at a blank page. As part of my web design process, I find it invaluable to create a content framework before writing any copy or designing pages. A content framework is a breakdown of all the different sections of content that need to go on each page. For example, on the homepage your framework might include a hero section with a call to action, an about section, a services section, a testimonial section, and a newsletter signup. Breaking your page content into chunks helps you visualize what kind of layout will work best for the page, and it makes it easier to create the actual content for each section.
Related post: 5 pages every service based business website needs
4. Write copy that incorporates SEO keywords
Copywriting for the web and SEO go hand-in-hand. In case you’re not familiar with SEO, it stands for search engine optimization, and it involves optimizing content on your website so that it will rank higher in search engine results. There are numerous SEO techniques that you can implement, but the most important one is keywords. Keywords are words or phrases that users type into search engines. If you incorporate keywords into your website content, search engines will direct users searching with those keywords to your website. Of course, implementing SEO effectively is easier said than done, considering that there are an estimated 400 million active websites, each of which is competing for certain keyword rankings. Don’t let that number deter you, though. It’s definitely possible to rank for keywords today, even if you’re just starting out. I have a few blog posts that were published last year that today are ranked on the first page of Google (over tens of millions of results). SEO requires patience and persistence, but it’s well worth the effort if you want to create a website that generates qualified leads for your business.
5. Choose a website platform
These days, there are many website platforms and builders to choose from–Showit, Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, Shopify, Webflow, and WordPress are some of the most common ones. Every web designer has an opinion on why X platform is better than Y platform, and with all the conflicting info out there, choosing a platform can be a lot more overwhelming than it needs to be.
Personally, I prefer WordPress and here’s why:
- WordPress.org is open source software (AKA it’s free) and is self-hosted, meaning you have full ownership of your site. Platforms like Squarespace and Wix host your site for you.
- WordPress has been around for a long time and powers around 30% of the Internet (source).
- Customization with WordPress is virtually limitless. Want to add e-commerce to your site? A membership? Courses? Forums? No problem.
I’m not going to tell you that you have to use WordPress to create your website. You can get results using any of the platforms I mentioned. If you’re still conflicted, do a little research and go with whatever feels right.
P.S. Check out my resource hub to find out which hosting service and theme I recommend for WordPress.
6. Design and development
Design and development is the most fun (and yet often most frustrating) part of creating a website. Note that this step comes after the copywriting phase; if your content is complete, designing your site is so much easier. The first thing you’ll need for this step, apart from content, is some kind of style guide. The style guide serves to standardize the colors, fonts, and general look and feel of your site. You’ll also need your logo and any other brand elements you have, such as icons, illustrations, or patterns.
If you’re handy in Photoshop, Sketch, or other design software, you can create mockups of how you want your website to look before you start building. Otherwise, you can start designing your website directly on your website platform using whichever theme you like (I love Divi for WordPress). If you’re totally new to design and don’t have the budget for a web designer, I recommend spending some time looking for inspiration on sites like Pinterest, Site Inspire, and awwwards. When you’re done building your site, don’t forget to check that it’s mobile responsive and that there aren’t any errors, typos, or faulty links.
WordPress website templates for creative small businesses
No coding. No fuss. Just intuitive design and all the customization support you need.
Related post: 10 DIY Web Design Mistakes to Avoid
The final step in creating a website is launching. As you may have guessed, this step isn’t as simple as just linking up your domain name (although that step is very important!) Before you launch, you’ll want to build up some hype so that your followers are just as excited as you are. Tease your followers with previews of your site on social media, and talk about all the amazing value you’re about to bring to them. Because let’s be real, no one is excited to be sold to. Your followers care about what’s in it for them. While you’re at it, share it with your friends and family members too, even if they’re not your target market. The more eyes you can get on your new website, the better!
Related post: Website Launch Checklist: 7 Things To Do Before Launching
Looking for professional web design support for your business? Click here to learn more about my strategic web design services for small businesses.