A couple of weeks back I wrote a bit about how to choose a good option for creating your health or wellness website. Do you hire someone, go totally DIY, or somewhere in between?
If you’ve decided to build your own website, that’s great! But, where do you begin?
Where do you start with building your own website?
One of the places I’ve noticed people tend to get stuck in the process is what order to do things.
This seems particularly true since most of the DIY website builders have a ‘walk through’ process, and one of the first questions it asks you is to choose what theme or design template you want to use.
This makes sense for their process! They need to know what design to give you so you can use all the tools they provide.
But what often ends up happening is you choose a design you think is nice, but end up running into issues with it.
You’ll try to put that awesome logo your friend designed you into the template, only to find it doesn’t fit quite right.
You’ll write your website content and find it doesn’t really fit the photos you’ve taken, and neither of those really look that great in the template.
So do you take new photos? Re-write your content? Go back to the beginning and choose a new template? Scrap the whole thing?
Well, here’s a little secret most people don’t know: the design template doesn’t come first!
Let me explain by using a metaphor.
The Massage Therapy website puzzle:
Are you into building puzzles? This fun little hobby seems to be making a resurgence lately!
Even if you aren’t, I’m sure you can imagine what it’s like to build a puzzle. So pretend with me for a sec.
Imagine you were putting together a 1000 piece puzzle and had no clue what-so-ever what the picture is of. So you just keep trying different things to see if they fit, and hope you might figure out what you’re building as you go. This might be fun for some people, but for most, they’d get frustrated and give up.
Now imagine doing that same puzzle where you know what you’re putting together. You’ve seen the photo, and know it’s of two orange cats sitting on a brown sofa, with a pink toy mouse between them. Not only that, but you have some guidelines on how the pieces fit. That would probably be a heck of a lot nicer to work on, right?
Building a website isn’t exactly a puzzle (although it might seem like one at times!), but it really helps to be able to picture what you want to create while you’re working on it.
But what’s the ‘picture’ for your website? Your business!
You want to create a clear image for people visiting your website of who you are, what you have to offer, and why they should book an appointment with you. That’s the end result you want, right? People finding you and booking an appointment. And hopefully telling their friends how awesome you are (but I’ll leave that part to your very capable hands!).
So how do you start with the ‘picture’? How do you put the story of your business first and then start building the ‘puzzle’ around it?
Well, here’s how I do that with my website design clients:
We start out by talking about their business. What do they do? How are they different from the other people who do the same thing? What do they love about their work? What’s their personality like, and how do they show that in their business? What types of clients do they see, and what kinds would they like to be seeing?
I really dig into the story of their business with them. Every business is different!
Once I get a good feeling for their story, I then talk to them about the structure of the website. This is not the design – we’re not there yet! – but rather how we break down their business story into bite-sized pieces. These translate into the pages on their website, and what elements (photos, text, links, and so on) will go on those pages.
Once we’ve got that figured out, they’ll be able to go and work on the content for their site. They can write the text, choose or take photos, get their logo finalized, or anything else they need to do in order to fill the pages of their story.
But when do we work on the website design?
Notice I haven’t mentioned the actual template or website design yet?
That’s because the design really should come after you’ve figured out the content.
Your content represents your business, and your business is the ‘picture’ we’re trying to build. We need that first in order to choose the best template!
For those of you doing this DIY, this also solves that little problem you might have where you’re presented with 11 squallion design templates. Once you’ve got your content ready and know how that content is going to be put together, it’s a heck of a lot easier to choose one. You’ll be picking one that is suitable for your content, not the other way around.
I hope this helps you get started on building your own website. I know the process can feel a little daunting, but with the steps I’ve talked about here, you’ll have it put together a lot faster.
If you need some help putting together your content, I’ve got you! This post goes into some of the dos and don’ts of writing your website text.
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