By Yvonne Eskenzi, co-founder and director of Eskenzi PR
I thought as we’re just about to go live with our website I’d impart some of the lessons I’ve learnt from building my website that could be useful when you build yours.
Decide on your theme.
Look at lots and lots of websites that you like and put them in a file and build a mood board. After a while you’ll notice similarities in the sites you like – it could be you’re going for a certain colour, or the way they scroll or move. In my case I noticed that I didn’t particularly like sites with people in them and I liked colour and interested graphics. I realised most sites used very similar stock photos, which were boring and predictable – I was determined ours would be bold with mainly graphics. Work out what is the common denominator in the sites you like and then pick out 5 things you want your site to convey. Work out what your message is – what’s the story you want to tell – do you want it to be ultra corporate, very simple and chic, funky, illustrated, techie, fast paced, should it have loads of functions, what’s the over-arching message? In essence, have examples of 5 websites you like to show your designer so there can be no misunderstandings.
So now you know what those 5 things you want your site to convey – write them into a clear brief. So that when you get to brief the designer it’s crystal what you’re after and don’t go off on a tangent. Speak to your kids, friends and work colleagues as they’ll all have ideas about what they think looks good on a site. Gather their ideas into your document.
Choosing your designer is tough – good luck. I think it’s all about chemistry and finding a designer that gets what you want – they’ll take the lead from you – it’s better that way – which is why you need a tight brief – they’ll prefer it if you have a vision and a starting point. Shop around and get 3-5 quotes to build your site!
Our designers came highly recommended but after 2 attempts at designs which I hated I nearly walked away – I’m pleased I didn’t because we worked it out – I think we worked it out because the chemistry was right and between us we were patient and had lots of brainstorm calls.
You’ll get crazy quotes – I got a huge discrepancy in quotes and I’m not sure why – everything ranging from £25,000, £10,000, £2500 – I also got some students who’d do them for free using Wix – have a budget in mind and stick to it.
Shop around. From what I’ve seen it’s not about the money but about choosing a trusted partner – someone that get’s you. Someone who has been recommended, patient, flexible and can work to a time frame. I don’t think you need to spend more than about £3-4k for a really professional site. It’s not the designing that costs the money but the images and copywriting – but if you can do this inhouse it will save you thousands.
Timing – hmmm, with the best will in the world websites don’t get done in the time scale promised. It’s a bit like buying a house, you’ll never find a house and move in within 3 months – it’s impossible. Website designing is the same – I’d suggest give yourself 3 full months to get the whole process done.
Photography and imagery – to get this right and keep your costs down is all about sourcing the images yourself, have an idea of what you want, stick to your guns and ideas and then write the copy yourselves. Get someone to take photos, that you can use, you’ve probably got videos of the office and keen photographers in your office that you could get to take a dozen or so nice photos which would look great on your site. Stock photos aren’t all that expensive but have a clear idea of the theme and then you can buy fabulous stock images – go to Getty or istock and go look.
The copy – this is the six million dollar question and in my case took the longest time. My advice is to work out your copy in water tight compartments. So work out how many sections you want to have on your website. Then break these six sections into further smaller sections. Can you delegate some of the writing? Most importantly remember less is more. People don’t want to read loads. They prefer to read little text and lots of visuals. Each section shouldn’t have more than a paragraph or two. Disappear for a few days and write the copy or give a copywriter a very tight deadline to write the copy. If you’re using wordpress which is what we are, it’s super easy to change the copy once it’s up on the site.
You need to be on the tail of your designers – as they’ll be working on lots of websites at the same time, so you’ll see at the beginning it goes really fast but then tails off – keep giving them deadlines, which they’ll miss but remember that you know it’s going to take 3 months but tell them it has to be ready in two!
SEO – you must make your site work for SEO – this has to be built into all your text and your designers should be savvy – ask they how they are going to make this work. Our designers have recommended us to a specific SEO specialist which we’re going to pay extra for as this is essential.
Three months has passed and now you’re ready to launch it!! But don’t launch it until you’re absolutely ready. People will keep asking you when it’s going live – never give them a date! And if so work on your 3 month rule. Don’t pay your designers until the site had gone live! Otherwise like builders and decorators they’ll never do the snagging. Proof read it dozens of times and get everyone around you to proof read it. When you’re ready to launch it do a soft launch – don’t tell anyone – when it’s live watch it for a few hours and see if it’s working nicely. Once you like it then SHOUT FROM THE ROOF TOPS. Tell the world to go visit it – put it out on every social media platform you have.
My advice is when building your website reach for the Moon and you will be able to touch the stars. Be ambitious, be imaginative and good luck.