Creating a website from scratch can seem like a daunting task, particularly when you’re attempting a DIY website design for the first time. You’re a new business owner. Money is tight and hiring a professional designer is completely out of the question.
So, you start looking on Pinterest. What do I want my website to look like?
You pin a few images to your secret ‘DIY Website Design Inspo’ board. The excitement begins to build as you envision your dream site in all its glory. You don’t need a designer. What’s next? Google will give you the answers.
Choose a platform. Select your website template. Connect your domain. That’s what the “gurus” are telling you to do. Seems all pretty straightforward, right?
You follow the directions to a tee.
Reality strikes. Buried under a virtual pile of blog articles and free downloads, “analysis paralysis” has got the better of you. This whole “DIY website design” thing isn’t as straightforward as everyone is making it out to be.
You’re overwhelmed. You’re frustrated. And your “half done website” is now gathering virtual dust in a corner of the internet. Not exactly what you envisioned.
As one of your most important marketing tools, you understand that your website is pretty important to the success of your business. The thing is… you don’t want just a website.
You want to make an incredible first impression. You want to connect with your audience. You want them to know that you understand their struggles. You want to give your business the best chance at success from day one. But how do you that? You’ve got no clue where to start.
The good news is that I’m going to tell you EXACTLY how to do that throughout this blog post. No, you don’t need to hire a designer. You don’t need to splash out on an amazing website template. All you need is a willingness to put in the work.
Are you with me still? Good!
You are going to learn what you need to focus on to give your DIY website design the best chance at success. The answers may surprise you. But trust the process. These components are what form the foundation of your online presence. If you are willing to put in the work, you will reap the rewards.
Before we get to that though, I want to tell you about Emily. Emily has decided to start her very own Virtual Assistant Business. She’s bursting with excitement. She knows that if she can get it off the ground, this will give her the freedom to work from anywhere in the world.
No more exhausting commutes. No more clock-watching in a stuffy office cubicle. She will be able to set her own schedule and finally live life on her own terms. Sounds pretty amazing, right?
Emily sits down at her dining room table to create a list of her service packages. Content writing. Social Media. Video Editing. Email Marketing. Within minutes, she has over 10 different service packages she could offer.
Emily wants to be everything to everyone. She’s worried that by reducing the number of services she offers, she will restrict her client base and limit her enquiry numbers.
This is Emily’s downfall.
Why? Wouldn’t it be better if Emily tried to appeal to as many people as possible? The bigger her target market, the more chance there is to generate income, right?
Wrong. I’ll explain why in a minute.
Let’s review the first component you need to consider when creating a website from scratch.
1. Who are you selling to?
Having a crystal clear idea of your audience really is crucial when it comes to articulating the value of your service. Knowing them however, needs to go beyond their gender, age or whether they live in a suburban house with their fiance and 2 dogs.
You need to be able to go a few steps further and look at their lifestyle, behaviours and most importantly, what they value the most in relation to your product or service. People generally respond when they feel as though they are understood.
This is the first component required to create a strong foundation for your DIY website design.
Let’s go back to Emily for a minute. If Emily offers 10+ service packages, who is she selling to? A long list of people, right? Corporate Businesses. Small Business Owners. Vloggers. Bloggers. And many more. The list could go on and on…
I want you to pretend that you’re an aspiring Vlogger. You’ve spent the last few months attempting to get your YouTube Channel up and running. You’ve filmed a few videos already, but they need some serious editing so you can create a great first impression with your audience.
As you’re searching through Google, you come across Emily’s website. After a bit of digging around, you discover that she offers video editing services. That’s great! But then you realise that she also offers a range of other services – social media management, email marketing, content and blog writing.
You’re unsure about whether video editing is Emily’s true area of expertise. Her service offerings make it difficult to determine whether she is the right person to help you. There’s nothing on her website that stands out and connects with you on a personal level. It’s all quite general. You don’t want someone who is ok at video editing, you want someone who is GREAT at video editing.
At that moment, you decide that you need someone who specialises in video editing only. You need them to understand how important this is for you. And you want to feel 100% confident that they are the right person for the job before you hand over your hard-earned cash.
You leave Emily’s website and look for other options.
Your customer description can’t be vague or general. It needs to be as specific as possible. To the point of describing one individual as opposed to a large group of potential customers.
This is going to feel uncomfortable at first. You will feel like you are limiting yourself and your business. However, having clarity on who you are serving is key to creating a high converting website.
You want your customer to feel as though you are speaking to them directly. You want them to feel as though you have a deep understanding of their current problem. You want them to feel confident that you can take them from their current situation to their desired situation.
Which brings me to the next point…
2. What problem are you solving?
The problems you are solving for your customers need to be clearly identifiable throughout your website and in your social media posts.
Like the ONE person you are serving, the problems that you are solving also need to be specific. Understanding the problems of your audience, allows you to gain a better understanding of how to best serve your audience.
You might be sitting there thinking, “well, I’m just a …. – I don’t really solve a problem”. The harsh reality is that if you don’t solve a problem, you don’t have a business.
Whether you’re a photographer, a virtual assistant, an online coach or even a cake maker, you are solving a problem in some form or another.
Your ideal clients will connect with your business on an emotional level before they connect on a logical level. For this reason, it is critical for you to be able to accurately describe their current situation (their dread situation) and clearly explain how you can help them to reach their dream situation, in relation to your product or service.
They want to know that you understand exactly how they are feeling. In turn, this allows them to determine whether you are the best person to help them achieve their desired outcome.
3. What are you really selling?
It is vital that you know the answer to this question before you start designing your website.
It’s not your product. It’s not your service. It’s not even the features of your offering.
In essence, you are selling an emotional outcome. The transformation associated with your product or service. That’s what you are REALLY selling. Think of the transformation as the final destination. This is where you want your customer to end up once they have experienced your product or service.
Understanding exactly what you are selling is how you communicate value; How you create an emotional connection with someone as soon as they land on your site.
Showing them that you understand their current situation (their problem) and where they want to get to ultimately (the desired transformation) will put your business at the forefront.
Furthermore, if you can communicate the transformation that you provide, this is what will encourage them to look beyond the price. It will allow them to focus on the value that you provide – the true essence of your offering.
Features can be replicated. Your product or service can be replicated. But a genuine understanding and empathetic approach towards your audience is something that cannot. That’s what we want to aim for.
As we come to the end of the post, you may have noticed that I haven’t even touched upon the actual design stage of the website. There is a very good reason for that. Creating a website that is set up for success is not all about colour palettes, imagery and clean layouts.
Yes, these elements are important. But, I want you to think of them as more like icing on a cake.
The transformation itself comes down to what the cake tastes like. And the outcome, whether it be positive or negative, depends on the ingredients. If the ingredients aren’t correct from the beginning, we’ll very likely be in for a nasty surprise once we remove the cake from the oven! Pretty icing will only get you so far.
The same applies to your website.
A pretty website is nice to look at, but when it comes to creating a genuine connection with your audience, you need more. You need to show empathy. You need to communicate a deep understanding of their current problem and the solution that they desire as a result of your product or service.
I know that these may not seem like the most exciting questions to tackle, but they are some of the most important. Keep in mind that the answers may not come to you straight away. That is ok.
Give yourself time. Reach out to your audience. Putting in the work from the beginning will put you miles ahead of the rest in the long run. You just have to start.