by Bridgett Edwards of Perideau Designs
First, I want to say thank you to Jessika for allowing me to visit today. When we were chatting about my new site redesign we thought it would be a great idea to share some helpful tips I’ve gained while working on an e-commerce site, twice now. After starting my shop on Etsy I quickly realized that having many personalization choices warranted an easier way for customers to purchase and to avoid the back of forth of emails. So my first site was born. But after going through the process and working with the site for nearly a year I noticed there were more improvements that were needed with the biggest one being my wholesale customers can now purchase directly from my site. But the options, functions and yes the design too of the entire site needed to be overhauled. It now is better suited for my customers and better represents my personal and business style.
Below I’ve listed out 7 website tips that will help you as you begin your journey to building a website.
Begin on Etsy, Big Cartel or any other third party site.
Etsy and Big Cartel are two of the biggest third party retail sites out there. They allow you to set up an online shop with minimal fees. It’s a great starting point for your business for a number of reasons. First, it allows you to test the waters and make sure your business is viable. In this day in age so many people are looking to begin their own business it’s imperative to make sure you can stand the test of time. So make sure you set yourself apart from your competition. Second, the startup costs to sign up on these sites are drastically lower than having your own e-commerce site. Not to mention you can have it up and running in a matter of minutes. After you test the waters and determine what products are working for you and you have saved up some money, start looking for a reputable designer.
Know what you want.
Before you find a designer to work with figure out what it is exactly you need and want. Do you need an e-commerce site where people can purchase directly from your site? Do you just need a splash page that will then re-direct people to your blog or Etsy shop? Start making a list of what you are you looking for before contacting someone but don’t feel like you’ll be stuck with your list. As you go through the design process more ideas will come and you will work out kinks you never even thought about. It’s natural to work through this with your designer but having a good solid foundation makes the process that much easier.
The current site redesign is actually version 2. I started the project knowing things had to change but didn’t realize I didn’t have a good direction. So I stopped the process created an inspiration board and on the first try of version 2, they nailed it! Arianne, from Aeolidia, loves when “the client has lots of great ideas and inspiration, but trusts us to pull it all together for them. It can be hard starting a project without enough information about what the client wants – a lot of time can be wasted guessing what will work for the client, only to find out we were off base. On the other side of the coin, sometimes too much “back seat driving” from a client can turn a good design into an incoherent mishmash of ideas!”
You get what you pay for.
This old adage is so true: you get what you pay for. There are a number of designers out there that are designing and building websites so it’s important to do your homework. Two key tips for finding a good designer are:
- Look at sites that you really like in terms of design and functionality then find out who designed it. More often than not, designers will have a link on the bottom of all the sites they create.
- Ask around. Chances are your trusted colleagues and friends know more about designers they’ve worked with or know personally. This can be valuable information as you narrow down your search.
Bottom line is you need to choose wisely and Research! Research! Research!
Designing takes time so be flexible. Have a realistic goal date set for when you want to launch so you and your designer are on the same page but be flexible. An e-commerce site will take 2-3 times longer to design and launch than a splash page. So know what you want and carve out the appropriate amount of time.
We are all human and circumstances will arise. There are going to be steps both you and your designer will need to take to make the project come to fruition so stay on top of what needs to be done. A great designer will have checklists for you and will tell you what needs to be done and when. Arianne has an excellent system in place for this which keeps expectations realistic and everyone in the loop. She prefers that “the client has set aside enough time needed to do their work on the project. We are pretty collaborative at Aeolidia, so it’s great when we have clients who are able to provide feedback and information quickly. It can also be a lot of work to add all the products and information to a website, and things go smoothly when the client has time to do all their data entry and get their work done as we’re finishing up ours.”
Give constructive feedback and have fun!
Be prepared to give feedback. Arianne says that they like it when “the client is able to give good feedback. Designers are used to getting criticism, so clients shouldn’t fear hurt feelings. Polite feedback with constructive criticism is gold, and it’s equally as useful to us to hear what’s working for a client as well as what they don’t like.”
And don’t forget to have fun! This is your bread and butter and the reason why you jump out of bed every morning so you should enjoy what you do. Bring that enthusiasm out when working with a designer. Arianne and her team have “…a fun and friendly rapport with the client! We find that the whole project goes beautifully when we can joke around a bit with the client and everyone maintains an enthusiastic and upbeat attitude. We do find ourselves accidentally slipping in some extras and special features for the clients we get along with the best, and if we’re having fun with the project, we are way more likely to tackle difficult requests with a smile.”
Purchase your domain.
This should be the very first thing you do once you settle on a business name. Purchase your domain, also known as a URL, from a company like www.godaddy.com. You do not need to use them for hosting but at least purchase your name so you have it and once your site is ready to go live, your designer can assist in moving everything to its appropriate place.
Not only should you purchase your main domain name (i.e. www.perideaudesigns.com) but also purchase similar names like www.perideau.com and have that re-direct to your main domain. This prevents others from purchasing a similar business name and in case someone misspells your business name they‘ll still get to you. You can even have a unique URL and re-direct it to your blog or Etsy shop.
I can do it myself.
Another route you can take is to design your website yourself. Tara has an excellent website design class called Website Kick Start (http://websitekickstartcourse.com/info.html) where she’ll guide you through building your own website. This is an excellent alternative to hiring someone; you will build something exactly as you want it and on your own time. So weigh the pros and cons to outsourcing or doing it yourself.
Thanks again Jessika for having me! If anyone has any questions feel free to post them here or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) directly.
Bridgett Edwards is the owner and designer of Perideau Designs (www.perideaudesigns.com), a small online stationery boutique, specializing in children’s party invitations and accessories. Bridgett also help new and seasoned entrepreneurs create a unique brand. Contact us at www.bridgettedwards.com for more information.