After you’ve accepted your quote, the very first thing we need is some content or material to use on your website. We can make magic happen, but not without some ingredients to work with! Feeling stuck/worried about getting it wrong? Let’s break through that procrastination before 3 months disappears in a blur with no momentum on your project.
First, let me put your mind at ease…
The number one important thing to remember when writing up your website content is that it is NOT PERMANENT. Your website is the living, breathing online representation of your business that can (and should) grow and evolve as your business does.
It’s my favourite part of online marketing over print – if you miss a typo or get something wrong, you can always change it. No need to issue retractions or worrying over typos costing thousands in reprinting!
So, when you’re working through these steps, remember not to get too hung up on getting it perfect! (You’re not a copywriter, thats why you hired us!) Rest easy knowing that we will proof-read your content and make minor re-phrasing suggestions as required. And, as I mentioned above; nothing is permanent!!
Step one: plan your website sitemap
Frankly it’s no wonder you are feeling lost about where to start. We can make whatever type of website you want, limited only by your imagination (and budget of course) and that kind of creative freedom can feel really be tough! So first things first. Nut out what your customers need to know about your business and what you would like to highlight/promote, then lay it all out in a birds eye view in a sitemap. Write down what pages you need, with a brief sentence describing the goal of that page. Open up a word processor and create a single page like the example below. Remember that we can always add/remove pages later on!
Here’s some basic pages that every business website needs (except a blog if you’d rather not have one).
Home Brief overview of the problems my product/service solves for customers, with links to learn more. GOAL: get traffic to services/contact page. Sometimes this can be a good place to offer a free download/subscriber form.
About Introduction to who we are. GOAL: create a personal connection to the people behind the business, establish industry credibility with past achievements/awards
Services/products Highlight main pain points solved with product/service, briefly introduce services with ‘learn more’ links, (or continuous scrolling page) GOAL: Outline everything we offer, direct customers to online store to purchase/book or contact.
Service #1: In-depth page detailing all the benefits of a single product or service (is a ‘sub-heading’ under the top-level services page). GOAL: List all the things about one specific product or service and direct customers to make a purchase, book or contact us now. Reviews from past customers go here!
Blog Share industry news, company achievements/updates and educate customers on our products/services. GOAL: Establish credibility, after-sales care, answer pre-sale queries, showcase experience (show customers you know what you are talking about!), reach more customers.
Contact: Contact information page, outlining all ways customers can reach you. GOAL: make it EASY for customers to contact you!
Privacy/TOS: Details about how you use personal information on your website (if applicable). Important to stay compliant with GDPR. Not sure what that is? We will work this one out together.
Step two: write your website content
Copywriting is a tricky beast if you are not familiar with it, and explaining it all now far exceeds the scope of this post. But there are a few simple things you can keep in mind that will always improve readability for your customers (and thus, your website performance!)
- Avoid talking too much about yourself – save that for the about us page! This might seem crazy since its a website about your business, but your customers generally don’t care how long you’ve been in business, how many awards you’ve won or how big your office is. They care about how you can help them and will read every page of your site through the lens of ‘whats in it for me?’ So always weave benefits to your customers throughout all of your copy.
- As much as possible, use their language. If you are selling business-to-business (B2B) then industry jargon might be OK. But if you are selling business-to-consumer (B2C), then reign in the lingo.
- Keep it simple and straight to the point. Assume that every visitor to your website dropped out of school at year 10 and has the attention span of a 4 year old. Because in our fast paced world overrun with information, most people will skim-read the headlines for the information they want. If your copy is too wordy, has large chunks of text or running sentences they will get bored and leave: even if what you are writing is exactly what they want. For most pages (except detailed ‘how to’ blog posts, 300-800 words per page is a good starting guide.
Tips for writing your website copy
Please send your copy in a digital format, like a word document, PDF or even within the body of an email. Handwritten or scanned copy means we need to type out your information again, which of course takes more time and increases the chances of typos.
Structure your document with the sitemap first (from step one), followed by the draft copy for each page (use the page name as a heading). For other types of textual content (like testimonials) that may be used throughout the whole site, please add them at the end.
Beyond that don’t worry about fonts, tables or any other formatting, unless specifically important to you.
Again – remember that even with all the information about copy here, you do not need to get it perfect, it’s a DRAFT. We will help you with this, we just need some information to get started!
Step three: visual assets
Lastly, its the photos/video/audio or other content like downloadable PDFs etc.
These are usually the first thing a visitor notices on your website, so making the extra effort to get high-quality photos/video footage is a valuable asset. If you don’t have the budget to get a professional in right now; thats fine! You can get some really great images with your smart phone. We will be interviewing a photographer soon with her best tips for amazing DIY photos!
Other types of visual assets include content boxes/counters, pricing tables etc – which we will use to present your information in the best light possible, but you don’t need to worry about those.
A note on stock images/photos/video: Stock images (eg from istockphoto, pixabay etc) can be a good way to brighten up a wordy page. As needed, we will seek out images that match your brand. However, the best way to really help customers connect with your business is to take real photos from your own business. If your website is just full of random smiling models or beautiful landscapes; your customers might wonder if your business is actually real!
A note on images from Google: Don’t. Just don’t. When you send images to us, we are going to assume that they are your own creation or you have explicit written consent from the original author to use them on your website. Please don’t send us photos from a google image search; first they usually look terrible, and secondly (more importantly) you are opening yourself up to legal action for copyright infringement.
Tips for sending visual assets to your designer
Go back through your copy and add the NAME of the photos/video that you would like added to each page. All visual assets need to be sent as individual files, separate to your word document (not inside it).
Photos/images/logos: Generally any format is fine, but usually JPG and PNG are preferred. Please send them in the BIGGEST SIZE POSSIBLE. We will scale them as appropriate for your design; we can always downsize large photos, but we cannot upsize small ones without losing image resolution.
Video: If you have a promotional video to put on your website, we recommend uploading to YouTube or Vimeo. We will ’embed’ the video on the page you need on your website, which can reduce the cost of hosting compared to uploading it directly on your page. Don’t worry if your video needs to be private/for paying customers only, we can sort that out.
PDF documents: Send them as they are. Larger files will take longer to upload/download, so unless it is a paid resource like an eBook, try and keep it short and direct like any other web page.
Annnddd thats a wrap!
Thats it! We have everything we need to get your website project off the ground. Again, remember that this is just a draft/starting point, so if after we have uploaded your copy or visual assets to a page and you change your mind – thats fine. We can always change it because nothing on your website is permanent!