As a start-up business, a website is your shop window to the world. That’s why when I got my business plan approved by the prince’s trust in September 2019, (which you can read about here) I decided the first task I really needed to do was to create a new website. I felt I needed to do this because my old website, which was built using Adobe’s web builder MyPortfolio, was more aimed at getting a job when coming out of university back in summer 2018.
As I am now fully freelance, I needed something that was more geared towards gaining clients for my business rather than showing my work to potential employers. I went through and tried out all the web builders out there, Squarespace, Wix, Godaddy web builder (desperate times) and found that I just couldn’t get the amount of customisation and creative freedom that I wanted as a designer. All of these platforms I felt were more aimed at someone without design skills, sort of an easy way of getting a quick website up and running. I also found that the templates were limiting in scope, with most of them looking like they’d been designed in the 90’s at the height of the .com boom.
Whilst researching my competitors, having a look at the code of their website and also how they laid them out, I found that most of them were using WordPress. I looked at around ten different designers and design agencies, all based in Leicestershire, and found the differences between them were actually substantial, in terms of design, layout and copy. Some were setup to have more of a personal voice, with the about me pages being the page that convinces you to sign up and work with that designer, while some of them were setup more focussed on what they can do for you, and I decided I wanted to have a combination of these approaches.
So, whilst deciding on the tone of voice, style and layout of my website I started doing research into WordPress themes and came across a web builder which is used inside of wordpress.org installations (the self-hosted version of WordPress) called Semplice.
Semplice is essentially a theme for WordPress, but rather than using the standard WordPress editor tools, you use Semplice’s built-in tools to create your website. This worked perfectly for me and worked out better financially too. As these web builders are all subscription based, it made me feel limited to one platform and essentially, if I wanted to leave the service I would have to remake my entire website on another platform, which was one of the issues I had when using Adobe Portfolio.
I used Adobe XD to layout how I wanted my website to look, and then created images and wrote content (much like this) which fitted the tone of voice and style I had decided on back in the research stage.
Whilst creating my website, I wrote down some tips I could share with my clients who are looking to create a website themselves;
- Look at your competitor’s website thoroughly, what works? What doesn’t work? Why?
- Plan your layout on paper (the old school ways are sometimes the best) then work with a designer or use design tools to create your content accordingly.
- Research into the best platform for your business, just because something the first platform to come up when you type website builder into google, that doesn’t mean it’s the best.
- Write the content yourself or use a copywriter to get engaging content which attracts, retains and converts your users.
- Plan at least a couple of weeks out of your schedule to get it done, (or at least a few hours spread over a few weeks) A quick and cheap website with rubbish content and unthought-out layout could be bad for your brand, SEO and reputation.
- YouTube and tutorial sites are your friend. Don’t know how to do something? The internet has a vast array of resources available to you.
If you need something done professionally, such as content and layout, contact me to discuss your requirements.