We are living in an exciting time for entrepreneurs of all kinds.  With the proliferation of internet usage and social media around the world, anyone can start a business and get the word out about what they do quickly, effectively and inexpensively on a global platform.  Of course there are a lot of factors that go into this; registering your business name, taxes, and branding to name a few.  Today I’m going to touch on the last one, specifically web design.

In my consultations with small businesses, start-ups, or larger corporations looking to re-brand, I always start with an extensive questionnaire to get the essence of the company.  Sometimes the business owner finds these questions easy and has already done their homework to know the core elements of what they offer.  Oftentimes it is the first time they have ever thought about these items, and I’m there to talk them through each question to get down to the nitty gritty.

If you want to start a business and build a website, there are many free and low cost platforms out there to get you started. Whether you do the work on your own, or hire a designer/business consultant to help you out, it’s important to answer some core questions so your brand is cohesive and your message is purposeful.  You don’t want to leave anything up to chance, or accidentally convey an image that doesn’t truly represent you.  Take some time to answer these 5 Questions to Ask Before You Make a Website, then do your research or hire a professional to make sure your identity (how you want to be perceived) matches your image (how people perceive you).

What do you want the website to do for your company?

What is the purpose of your site?  A business website can sell a product, show a gallery of your work, introduce your target audience to you, give a description of services offered, etc. Will you need videos, photos, a calendar, shopping cart, testimonials, a blog?   It is important to know your purpose and the type of website that best suits your industry.

Who is your target audience?

What is the age group, gender, socio-economic status, and lifestyle of your ideal client?  Most people will say that they want to reach everyone – but everyone is not your target audience.  There is a specific group of people whose needs will be met by what you have to offer.  It is your job to figure this out and write it down as detailed as possible.

What image do you want to portray?

Once you know who your ideal client is, you have to carve out the type of brand that would attract that clientele.  You will not design a website the same for artists as you would for business professionals.  A different look is needed to attract a homeschooling mom of 5 than is needed to attract a teenage male athlete.  A high end luxury brand looks completely different than a brand geared towards the middle class.  Are you professional, casual, cutting edge, sporty?  The look has to match.

Do your competitors use something on their website that you really like?

There’s nothing new under the sun.  Everyone is inspired by someone or something.  Check out the people in your field and identify what speaks to you.  Are there colors, images, business practices, styles, sounds, etc that resonate with you as a person?  Competitors and colleagues are a great source of inspiration.  Don’t just copy and paste what someone else is doing. There are creative ways to incorporate your own spin on what is working in your industry.

What do you offer that the competition doesn’t?

Just like it’s unnecessary to reinvent the wheel at every turn, it is equally necessary to differentiate yourself in some way.  Luckily this is the easiest part because there is only one YOU.  No matter how many health books are written, no one will ever write one with your voice.  If you get nothing else from this, get this – brand yourself.  You are the most unique aspect of your business.  Put as much of yourself into your brand as possible – your passion, personality, and quirks.  When all is said and done, people connect with people more than arbitrary concepts.

Hope this helps!  It’s certainly not a complete list, but it’ll get you started.  Enjoy the journey and get journaling!

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