I’ve had some time to think about my work as a web designer this month, about my approach, my portfolio and about how things have changed over the years. Taking stock was wonderful and it has shown me how I still really love working with people at the beginning of their business journey. If that’s you and you are thinking about creating your own website then this episode is hopefully going to be a useful stepping stone. Here is what I talked about:
- The key questions I ask all my clients before drafting some ideas for them
- How I choose the right software for each project
- What I find helpful for structuring a new site and writing copy
- What kind of research might help you gather ideas
I mentioned my new web design course, which you can take in your own time or do together with me and a group of people in May, learn more here: https://yarrowdigital.com/web-design-adventure-course/
On April 13th I am also offering a free interactive workshop that you can bring any and all questions to: https://yarrowdigital.com/intro-do-diy-web-design-workshop/
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⋒ Hi, my name is Yarrow and I am your host.
My Embodied Business podcast explores what it means to build a small business with integrity, joy and anti capitalist values. I interview other small business owners and offer solo episodes in which I am answering questions around tech, strategy, more ethical marketing and creative livelihoods.
You can learn more about my web design, tech support, mentoring and community offerings at YarrowDigital.com
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Hey, everyone, I’m Yarrow, and you’re listening to the embodied business podcast. Thank you for joining me, I’m going to talk about how I prepare for web design project today. And this is a process that I’m guiding my clients through. But I really believe it’s super useful stuff to think about whether or not you want to DIY your website. I’ve had a lot of time this month to think about my own systems and processes, which was really refreshing. And I kind of touched every single piece of content I, we recorded my courses around branding and web design. And I also went into my portfolio and kind of reviewed what I’ve been making last two years. And that was good, it was really interesting to see how my style has changed over the years what I would do differently now, how things more broadly as a trend or as a as an industry direction have evolved, and where where position myself in bad. And what I’m still feeling really excited about is working with people at the beginning of their business. And I think there’s this narrative that as you make it an aquos, or as you grow as a business, and Mike has a web design business, you want to necessarily work with more high end clients. And you know, that can be true for you. And that can be really beautiful. I think there’s nothing wrong with that. But really, as I’m thinking about my pricing and the packages, I noticed that even six years and I really still feel a lot of joy and excitement for working with people who are just starting out or who are in the first say, three years or so of their business. And so I’m going to restructure my packages a little bit, I’m going to moving forward offer our website day, which are kind of standard packages where you choose a branding palette that I have already created. And then we’re working with templates. And that’s going to be a kind of more affordable way to get a really beautiful professional site very quickly. And I’m still going to offer my bigger VIP packages where we’re spending much more time together, we can create something that is more unique. I think every site is unique, of course, you know, but with those bigger packages, we can spend more time on your branding and on developing your content and thinking about the flow and creating custom layouts for each of your pages. And I’m also offering courses again, so many years back, I first offered these web design and branding courses. And this month, I’ve re recorded them. And then my May this month, I’m also going to do a live round, so you can sign up for them now. And then you can join us if you like at the time, there’s no difference in pricing between what you’re paying for the self study version, or the live round in May. And I think it’s going to be fun to be in a group of people who are in the same process at the same time. And kind of trying to work that out. So yeah, consider joining us if you like, I’m also running a free workshop on April 13. And that is going to be a deeper dive into the systems and structure and the software that I’m using, as well as the initial kind of setup ordered the branding journey that I’m taking people on. And I’m hoping that being able to see my screen that I’m sharing and being able to ask questions and reflect on your own ideas will help you get started whether or not you join us for the course it’s totally okay to just join the workshop for free if you want to check that out and get some advice. Yeah, even if you don’t know, if you’re not interested in the course that is totally cool. And I’ll link to that in the show notes. Okay, so diving into how I prepare for a web design project. When someone decides to work with me, I send them an intake form. And I will share the questions that I’m asking in there. Well, most of them are say here. And I think they’d be really good for you to think about whether or not you’re hiring out. The first one is who is your ideal client? And what do they like? And that can be tricky. Of course, you know, like, maybe you have initial ideas, but it’s really good to get super clear on who your perfect ideal dream client is really thinking about how their days Look, what they’re struggling with,
what kind of questions that they have, what worries them what gives them joy, and that will give you a feeling for the kind of design that they might enjoy. And then where do you see your business next year. And that’s important because you want to make sure that you’re creating something that’s going to you know, not need need to be reinvented next year because you’re shifting directions. So if you already know, for example, that you might want to start courses or offer memberships next year, then you want to think about the software that you’re using now. So that can grow with your so that this can grow with your business as you expand and have new ideas. And then the next question is how do I people to feel when they come to your site. And that might sound abstract. But you know, when you wander around the internet and you following links, or you’re on Pinterest or Instagram, when you discover someone new, you land on a site, you also have an initial feeling right? Maybe sometimes you’re excited, maybe you’re overwhelmed. Maybe you feel really calm, and you just want to explore or maybe you feel playful or curious. And it’s good to define what kind of, you know, feelings you would like people to have that come to your site. And then the next question I’m sharing is, what kinds of colours and symbols do you like? And I’m intentionally not making them the first question because I think it’s really good and important to think first more about your overall goals, and your clients. And then you think of what your preferences, what colours and fonts and design elements and that kind of stuff. And I think for some people, and I include myself here, it really works super well, to just look around yourself as a starting point and take your environment in and think about the kinds of colours that you surround yourself with, I’m going to say something that sounds really cheesy, but I own it, I kind of live my branding. So in my home and my wardrobe, even in my garden, I have the kinds of colours that I use in my branding, because they feel like a very natural extension to how I feel about the world, how I like to express myself, and that works for me. And it could be totally fine for you, of course to have, you know, different preferences in your private life, but a very different vision for how you want to express yourself visually or creatively for your business. And so it’s different for everyone. But this can be a starting point. And then next time when once you work through these questions, I think, could be to do some research on designs that you love. So you know, there’s so many sources that you could approach, you’d have a look around your industry, you could also go elsewhere, you could search on Pinterest, you could search on Google, you at some names I used to when I was still on Instagram, I would just kind of like see who the people I follow that I really admire follow. And then I would check those websites out just to kind of see what everyone’s up to right? To see what what feels good for me, and to see what I might like to weave into my own branding without copying anyone, of course. But you know, we all are looking for inspiration in different ways. And I think it’s a great idea to bring that together. So all the research that you’re doing everything that you’re seeing that you like, either you take a screenshot, or you copy and paste the link, or you make a Pinterest board, whatever works for you, but you want to collect all this information in your research. And then the next step is, I think, to decide on the software that you want to use. There’s so many options out there, as you probably know, and I always say that the most important thing is that you enjoy using the technology that you are utilising your business because if it’s not fun, or it doesn’t feel intuitive for you, or it’s too hard, then that’s gonna slow you down. And it might stop you from blogging or uploading new podcast episodes or whatever you want to do to express yourself. Your software has to support that that’s really important. So there isn’t like one answer for everyone. I think that we each experienced technology in slightly different ways. And I think that you know what, what some of us experienced as tricky can be easy for other people. And that’s nothing that doesn’t say anything about how smart we are. We just have different preferences. And that’s okay. My very clear preference is WordPress. I love it. Because it’s open source software. It’s free. There’s 1000s of free plugins that you can use to extend the functionality. So WordPress at the core is the community kind of course structure. And then a plugin is another piece of software that you can add to it to extend the functionality. So for example, you could add social sharing buttons or a newsletter opt in, or a special plugin for SEO, for example. And so many of those are free. So in many cases, WordPress is cheaper than other
kind of builder platforms. It’s also good for SEO, Google, prioritises WordPress websites. And there’s so many themes to choose from. So sometimes with builder websites, you have a template and you kind of have to fit yourself in that. That’s definitely changing. And there’s more variety, I think and the layers that you can choose from. But in my experience, WordPress offers the most flexibility in terms of both design and functionality. And that’s Sunday we value and so yeah, have a think about the word pride in the software that you might want to use. And we also think about why and is that all going to be Or your business needs? And how much is that going to cost you. And then the next step might be to create the wireframe. And really all that means is that you think about the different pages that you need. And you think about the menu bar that you want to create. So on my Yara digital website, you will see that I have four main menu items, and then I have a few drop downs. And I love it to keep it really simple to not have too many options right away. So the first menu item is that here? No, it’s called get started. Sorry. So yeah, get started. And that drops down to my web design, my embroidery business community, which by the way, is opening in April, if you want to get on a waitlist, you can. And then it has my courses and a site or page with the things I use in my business. And then I have an about drop down, drop down for my blog and podcast. And then a drop down that’s called free, that has my workbook and free upcoming workshops that. So yeah, we think about how you want to structure your different pages. And then you can shift to the next step, which is writing your copy. And if you’re starting out, and you want to kind of make it easy for yourself, and just purely something that’s really clear and easy to navigate, I think what makes sense is to have four pages, and they could be home about what you offer and contact that’s going to really cover everything that people need to know. And you can grow from there. And so yeah, and then you want to get yourself into the right creative headspace to write your copy. And that can be tricky. For some of us. Sometimes it’s tricky for me, I really loved working with my friend Sophie Dell, I recommend her course, I’ll link to that as well. But she is just a really heartfelt copywriter who has, yeah, who has so many skills and who makes it really easy, I think to write copy that is effective, but not sleazy, which is, yeah, it’s just an hour to diet, isn’t that. So yeah, take her out. He has a great blog as well. And Jerry is sharing lots of resources all the time. And the one tip, I think that she gave me that I want to share with you here is to write read it out loud. And I know that kind of is like oh, that’s common sense isn’t that, but I have gone years without reading my copy out loud before publishing it. And it made such a difference to really like, give myself some time and some space to write, take a break, come back to it stand up, and then read it out loud, and then really see how it feels and how it flows. And I’ve made so many changes just based on that one thing, that few really good. So I hope you’ll consider doing that too. And then you’ve got your copy, you made decisions on what software you want to use, you have some ideas on the kinds of colours and branding that you might enjoy. The next thing I recommend is you you do is that you send yourself milestones because if this is the first website that you’re creating, it’s really good to break it down into smaller chunks. So maybe one week, you’re gonna finalise your branding and bring a colour plan together. And then maybe one the next week, you’re going to finalise your copy. And then the week after that, you’re going to set up the software, maybe you’re going to instal WordPress and your plugins, and you’re going to set the pages up. And then the last week is the fun part where you’re going to upload everything and create layouts for each of the different pages. So my accountability can help. So maybe you can find someone who is in the same process with you. And you can commit to those four or five or six stages, however you want to break it down and check in with each other. And there’s one last tip I want to give you if you’re redesigning your page, some people don’t know that, you can ask your hosting provider. So someone like Bluehost, or green geeks or siteground to give you a temporary domain, so that you can create a new WordPress installation, build your name inside there. And then when that’s ready, you can switch your domain over. And that means that your site isn’t under construction.
And there’s pros and cons for each of those things. You can also when you redesign your site, just put it under construction screen app, redesign the site. And then when you’re ready, you can pull that screen up, and you’re presenting it to the world. But the downside of that is of course that you’re kind of putting a bit more time pressure on yourself, you probably don’t want to have the site be down for ages. So that’s something to consider the plus of doing it this way is that you might have pieces of content that are older, that have a certain value for SEO already. And so you know, not starting over can be beneficial in that sense. But you will need to be able to either be okay with the site being under construction for a while, or have a dedicated chunk of time where you’re redesigning it all at once. But if you don’t want to go that route, like I said, it’s cool to ask for temporary domain from your house and then you can just rebuild everything from scratch and then switch your domain over whenever you’re ready. Okay, I hope this has given you an overview and most importantly, maybe give it gave you some confidence to think about approaching a web design project and also give you a sense of whether hiring out or doing it yourself is the right choice for you. I hope to see you at the free workshop and if you have any questions about anything I share today, then that will be a great place to ask them and I will help you as much as they can. Bye