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How to build a better website: 8 Questions to ask yourself with Aime Cox-Tennant

18/02/2020

A website is the hub of your business – where your transactions take place, whatever that may be. So it’s important that it’s as easy as possible for someone to get to their end goal. 

We spoke to Aime from Studio Cotton about how to build a better website, and she gave us these 8 simple questions to ask yourself…

1. Are you ready for a website?

A website is never the first step.

You need to have all your branding down: your logo, your font, you need a practical colour palette – as well as all your lovely bold colours. 

You need a bank of high-quality images which, if you’re a graphic designer or photographer, is pretty easy to make yourself! If not, it may be worth investing in a photographer, or using free images from places like Unsplash or Creative Market. If you’re going to take the pictures yourself, it’s worth setting some time aside for this. Even if that’s to go out and spend £20 on props, or just to spend the morning making your studio look pretty.

It’s a good idea to know what business goal your website is going to fulfil. You don’t have to write an essay or epic specification, but to at least understand what your website has to do. Even if it’s as simple as ‘sell products’.

2. What do you need?

Once you’ve got everything prepared, how do you start?

Start with a big list.

Get all your ideas for what you need out into a big list. These are the dealbreakers. The “my-business-will-not-work-without-these”.

These are unique to your business and your customer’s needs. They could be an online shop, ensuring your site is on the right side of the law, ensuring it can be found by Google. Does it look nice? Should you include an email opt-in? You know, all the basic stuff.

3. What do you want?

When all the basics are in your list, it’s time to start adding the shiny bits that aren’t necessary, but that you really, really want.

Having a Facebook shop would be nice, but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t have one. Having a subscription model might be something you want to incorporate. A wholesale checkout, where you’d sell physical products to shops that are coming to your website, might be helpful, but not the most important thing. 

These are things that it’s worth including, but that aren’t dealbreakers.

4. What will you need at some point?

Think long term. When your business becomes a roaring success in the next 2 years – what will you need then?

These could be things like a stockists map; whilst you might not have any now, you will in 2 years!

Or something like a client carousel; again, whilst you might not have any now, you will in 2 years!

A normal website should last you at least 2-3 years, so you should anticipate starting to implement some of these changes in the future.

5. What do you love?

This is as simple as it sounds. 

Do you love big images and very little text? Write that down.

Do you love pastel pink and pictures of plants? Then go for it. 

It’s your website so it’s important it’s something you love!

6. What do you hate?

Equally, don’t buy into a feature you hate, just because someone recommended it. 

You might hate email pop-ups and – even though they do work – it’s not worth putting them in if you don’t like them on principle. 

7. Have you chosen the right platform? (it’s probably not Wix)

Once you’ve made your lists, you need to decide where you’re hosting your website. Rule out some platforms using the work you’ve done so far; if you NEED an online shop, then you won’t get very far without a website that can’t do that for you.

Equally, consider your budget. If you’ve got a budget of £500 full stop for a website, consider how a monthly payment will fit within that. Because most of them will add up to more than £500 over 2 years!

8. Are you legal?

“Just because we’re small, doesn’t mean we’re exempt from the law!”

Did we mention to make sure you’re legal? 

Things like a data protection policy needs to be on your website. Your returns policy needs to be there. Make sure that you haven’t accidentally created an illegal website. Because nobody wants to be shut down by the law for trying to sell their handmade jewellery online. 

Congratulations! 

You’re now significantly more prepared to create a website for your small business. Lots of this is really simple and straightforward to identify, and if you get it right, then it saves you so much work in the long run.

Studio Cotton is a small creative business, for small creative businesses. They deliver brand, web and marketing services that are effective, efficient and friendly, so that you can spend more time running the small creative business of your dreams.

PAPER Arts offers support for young creatives on how to build a creative career and navigate Bristol’s art scene. For more information about the work we do, please email hello@paperarts.org.uk