Never Build a Website Without Doing This ONE Essential Thing, First

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Here’s the thing, about your website…

01 The Solar System PIA10231, mod02It’s like the sun around which all your other planets rotate. If your source of light & warmth isn’t there, or isn’t shining as brightly as it should, the rest of your solar system suffers (like your social media following, networking efforts, and other ways you market yourself to potential customers).

And with all that pressure to make your SUN shine, it totally makes sense that, when it comes to building a great website for your biz, you should invest a little extra time in the planning phase—before you ever lift a finger to install a WordPress theme, or pick up the phone to hire a designer, or start adding pages or blog posts.

After all, you wouldn’t build a home, or a brick-and-mortar office/headquarters for your business without a significant amount of planning and thought, would you? (Don’t worry, planning your website a heckuva lot easier than planning a physical building. Promise!)

The method I’m about to show you is very simple, doesn’t require much time, and yet it goes a long way in helping you get your thoughts together + forcing you to clarify what you’re looking for in the results you want to get from your website, and what your website needs to be like to accomplish them.

artist paletteI’m going to use an example, of an artist…let’s call her “Chloe”. So, Chloe is a painter, who travels all over the USA to sell her work in art galleries and at art shows/conventions, and also occasionally gets paid to teach art workshops at schools and businesses.

But now, Chloe wants to stop traveling so much, and have more time to paint in her home studio. To do this, she intends to sell her work online via her website, and also to do more commissioned works. She also has a thriving YouTube channel where she gives virtual painting lessons to artists around the world, so she wants her website to be a place where her artist-fans can come to view her work, and learn more about her.

Chloe’s website plan might look something like this…

OBJECTIVE: To attract and grow a new following of art lovers & buyers around the world, as well as gain repeat business my past art show customers. I want my website to entertain & enlighten them, and to be a place that they like to browse and shop for the perfect piece of art.

AUDIENCE: Existing customers who’ve purchased my work before at a show or gallery; art aficionados looking to acquire a unique artwork for their home; budding artist-fans of my YouTube channel, who want to find out more about the materials I use, where I’ll be teaching in person, and so forth.

MAIN WEBSITE STRUCTURE & CONTENT:

  • Home :: Rotating images of my most popular paintings, with a welcome message and an invitation for visitors to get 10% off any art print if they sign up for my email list.
  • About the Artist :: The story of how I became an artist, and where I get inspiration for my paintings. A link to the Gallery page, inviting the visitor to explore my work.
  • Art Gallery :: A flip-through gallery of all the works I currently sell online, each one with a link to its product page.
  • Buy Online :: Shows four preview tiles for each sub-category (the sub-pages will also show as a drop-down under Buy Online in the navigation menu)…
    • Originals on Canvas
    • Prints of Originals
    • Limited Edition Originals
    • Request a Custom Artwork
  • Artist Resources :: Helpful information for artists, like what materials I use, best places to buy supplies, specific techniques, information about the scenarios/subjects that inspire my art, and so forth.
  • Blog :: My latest posts about pieces I’m currently working on, creative expression/inspiration, painting how-to’s, etc. Monthly video blogs, with embedded vids from my YouTube channel.
  • Contact :: An invitation for visitors to contact me regarding works they’ve purchased, commissioned artwork requests, and so forth. Email and phone number.
  • Cart (as a symbol, to the upper right side of the main menu) :: Shopping cart page with items-to-be-purchased, Checkout button, and a “Continue Shopping” link that goes back to the Buy Online page.

SUPPORTING PAGES:

  • Mailing list opt-in page
  • Subscription confirmation page
  • Product pages for each of the paintings for sale, with different purchase options—depending on whether the original is still available, and if it’s available as a print
  • Purchase confirmation page

STYLE/COLORS: Red (mauve), orange, and charcoal, to reflect the earthy feel of my art. Incorporates the texture of rough brushstrokes on canvas, but clean lines like the edge of a canvas—a balance between artistry and professionalism.

blueprintsSee how all the details are laid out, like a blueprint to aid in the designing & building process of Chloe’s website?

You can easily do this for your own website, whether you’re a brand-new biz owner starting from scratch, or a seasoned entrepreneur launching a second business or revamping your original site.

Just crack open a new document in your word-processing software of choice, and add five sections: your OBJECTIVE, AUDIENCE, MAIN WEBSITE STRUCTURE, SUPPORTING PAGES, and STYLE/COLORS. Then, fill in the details, and you’ll have a solid blueprint for you or your designer to work from when building your site!

PHOTO CREDIT: Solar system by Image Editor via Flickr (CC).

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About Barbara Austin

As the graphic designer & founder of Sweet Dreamz Design, Barbara loves working with women entrepreneurs to brand their businesses. She shares a variety of small business advice and anecdotes here on the blog. Check back every week for new tips, inspirations, and how-to articles, or subscribe to get regular updates in your inbox each week!

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