There’s a certain amount of intuitive thinking that goes into everything. It’s so hard to describe how things happen intuitively. I can describe it as a computer and a slot machine. I have a pile of stuff in my brain, a pile of stuff from all the books I’ve read and all the movies I’ve seen. Every piece of artwork I’ve ever looked at. Every conversation that’s inspired me, every piece of street art I’ve seen along the way. Anything I’ve purchased, rejected, loved, hated. It’s all in there. It’s all on one side of the brain.
Debbie Millman – How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer (public library)
I’ve seen a lot of friends and colleagues bang their heads against the wall when they’re faced with building a website. And I feel them, because we live in a world of very crowded information that confuses things instead of making them clearer.
It’s like when you go to the restaurant your friends recommended and the waitress hands you a menu that weighs and looks like text book. You start browsing the pages and suddenly you realize that you’ve spent at least 10 minutes reading the amazing scope of options and -NADA- you can’t come up with a single dish you’d like to order.
This information overload can hinder your goal of creating a wonderful website for your business, and it kills me have to see you go through it.
So, what should you do now?
Instead of spending endless hours of Google research, focus on what you really need. Create a list of the main features your website needs to have in order to help your business grow. Avoid your computer and write down what you imagine your audience would use your website for ( what they’d want to read, obtain, buy, share, etc.)
Once you’ve identified what you need to share, focus on the “why”. Lets face it, we can all be tempted to provide too much information, and it’s difficult to edit down while trying to maintain a clear message. To help, take each topic and make a note about why it’s beneficial for your business and why your visitor should care about it. Be as pragmatic and drastic as you need to be! You need to make your audience care and understand the value they will obtain by using your business and learning more about your brand.
We’re getting closer now.
By now, you should have a clear(er) idea of what you want to share and why it’s important, so now it’s time to think about how you’ll share this information with the digital world. The “how” will have many faces: paragraphs of copy, photos, slideshows, collages, audio files, video (etc.) but you should only select the ones that work best with your brand. In some cases, it may also make sense to create your own. Do you love creating visual images? Then do it! Do you love writing or sharing small bits in audio? Then do that!
The idea is to deliver your message on a platform that coincides with your brand, can be easily delivered and shared with your audience and won’t become another item on your to-do list that will be pushed aside (tweet this!).
The great thing about the web is that you can always make improvements by adding and testing different types of content. Technology makes it even simpler to make these tests fun, short and easy to share.
Building a website has become fairly easier nowadays because there are so many options that can set you up with a couple of clicks.
My advice: choose a platform that works for you. My two favorites are WordPress and Squarespace because of their user experience and support systems. They’re both wonderful platforms with useful and beautiful themes available to make your website look professional in a very short period of time.
In order to decide which platform best fits your needs, you’ll need to determine how much you’re trying to invest. WordPress is open source, meaning it’s free to install with your own domain (and a default theme). You just need to own a hosting account to save these files and host your future website.
Squarespace, on the other hand, is a monthly subscription service that will allow you to select a theme and edit its visuals as soon as you join their services. In other words, you can customize the site to fit your exact needs and vision in a very short period of time.
Now, it’s time to experiment! Give both platforms a try and outline their pros and cons. Determine which would be best suited for your business and feel free to discuss in the comments section!
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