Your Ultimate Website Checklist

Your Ultimate Website Checklist

Your Ultimate Website Checklist

Everything you need to do or delegate to get your new website up and running

There is absolutely no doubt about it anymore – if you’re running a business it needs an online presence.

In Australia, Internet use is pretty much ubiquitous. Consumers use the web not only to find products and services, but also to research, compare, and ultimately make decisions about who they will buy from. And with COVID-19 forcing everyone indoors, we will be living more and more in the digital space.

So you need to be seen in this digital landscape. But the process of generating this online presence can seem slightly mysterious. The myriad of different options can be confusing. And the whole thing can easily get shelved in the day-to-day of running a small business.

However, with the pandemic slowing many businesses to a standstill, there has never been a better time to work on you business, rather than in it. Creating and perfecting your online presence is an ideal way to tackle the downturn.

To help cut through all this noise, I have put together a checklist that covers everything you need to consider, plan and do to get your business online and in front of the masses. Use it together with my downloadable Ultimate Website Planner to create your own tailored online strategy.

1. The first step is to strategise.

Define your goals, and everything else will flow from there. Work out exactly what you need your online presence to achieve – now and going forward. Completing a formal marketing strategy is a great way to drill down into this, and there are a bunch of great templates available online that make it really easy.

2. Do you need a site? Or can it wait?

In a perfect world, every small business would have its own website. But when you’re starting out, the budget is often tight and there are a million potential demands on your cashflow. A great way to tackle this problem is to plan a staged approach to online – starting with free options like Facebook and Google My Business. Depending on what you need your web presence to achieve, these platforms can be fantastic ways to show your face online whilst planning and budgeting for a dedicated site of your own.

3. Buy a domain name.

Purchase your domain name early – they are cheap to buy and getting the right one is important. A good domain name should be short, relevant, easy to spell and also to type. Consider adding keywords or your location to help you get found in search results. Decide which top level domain is best for you – .com, .com.au – or something completely different. Buying a domain name well before you plan to build a website is a perfectly legitimate strategy. Not only does this ensure you snag the perfect name, but it prevents others from snapping it up in the meantime.

4. Planning – ask yourself some questions.

So you already know what you want your site to do. But assessing things like your budget and how much time you are able to allocate will help you decide on the best solution for creating the site. Also – taking the time to think about the details now will mean you have all the answers when it comes to briefing a professional designer or developer.

Plan not just for the short term, but consider how your site might evolve over time. Websites are easily adaptable, and you can use this flexibility to grow your site with an expanding business, or to deal with short term cash flow by having your site built in stages. Download my nifty Ultimate Website Planner to help you really nail the planning phase of your site.

5. Consider branding.

Ideally, your identity should be in place before you design your site. If you don’t have the budget for a professional rebrand or logo design, carefully consider colours, typefaces and other graphic elements. Cross reference with any existing marketing material you have (like your business card) to make sure they are looking consistent. Check out my 4 rules for small business branding – there’s some great tips in there for branding on a budget.

6. Get hosting sorted.

There are plenty of options out there – research and find the one that suits your budget and needs. Many DIY website builders offer hosting as part of their fees, and some web designers (including Powdermonkey Design) also offer design packages that include hosting.

7. Content creation.

What does you website need to say? How does this content need to be divided up into sections or pages? What images need to go on the site? Either create this content yourself or consider hiring a professional copywriter or photographer to do it.

If you choose to DIY though, find yourself a trusty editor. Make sure you get a second pair of eyes on your copy to check for spelling or grammatical errors, which are notoriously hard to spot in your own work. If you are using your own photos, be brutally honest with yourself – are they well lit, well composed and of good resolution? If the answer is ‘no’, it might be worth hiring a web designer who is also skilled at photo re-touching to give your images a bit of a lift (hint: I know someone!) Another great option is purchasing stock images, or downloading free ones from Pixabay or Unsplash.

Obviously, knocking off someone else’s images and copy from elsewhere on the ‘net is a big no-no!

8. Design & build.

DIY or hiring a professional? Web designer or web developer? When opting to DIY, consider the time involved as well as any ongoing fees. Another thing to think about is the possibility of a total rebuild if you later decide to hand over to a professional, and how this will work. For example, if you choose to create your own website with WordPress it’s easy to hand it over to a professional designer when the time comes. But when using DIY package builders such as Wix this can be trickier.

Also – If you get your site professionally designed but plan to add content yourself, consider the platform your designer is using. Can they provide a solution that allows for simple edits, and do they provide any training or support you might need?

9. What else do I need?

Last but not least, it’s time to think about the little extras that go along with a website, such as an SSL certificate, security, email accounts, updates and backups. Will your web designer be sorting these out for you, or do you need to organise them yourself?

Taking the time to check all the boxes when it comes to website planning can help you to decide on the best solution for creating your site. But it can also help keep costs down when paying a professional to design your site, or to save time and heartache if you opt to build it in-house. Either way, you will have a web presence that is optimised for when you are now, and where you plan to be in the future.

 

#workingon #webdesign #hosting #domainname #smallbusiness #onlinebusiness #entrepreneur #microbusinesslegends #creativeforthepeople #powdermonkeydesign

What’s the difference between raster and vector?

What’s the difference between raster and vector?

What’s the difference between raster and vector?

Ever had a printer or another supplier ask you to supply a ‘raster’ or ‘vector’ file? It might sound like jargon, but knowing the difference between the two can have a huge effect on the quality of your finished job.

Knowing the difference between raster and vector can make a difference to the quality of your finished design job.

#designtrivia #designnerd #nerdalert #ilovedesign #jargon #graphicdesign #raster #vector #rasterorvector #thinkresolution #creativeforthepeople #powdermonkeydesign

7 Ways to Find Creative Inspiration

7 Ways to Find Creative Inspiration

7 Ways to Find Creative Inspiration

The situation all creative professionals dread…

This week I have been suffering from a touch of the dreaded creative block. Not – thankfully – the crippling ‘complete and utter’ type that stops you in your creative tracks. But a struggle with one particular creative problem, a design for a flyer. It’s the kind of situation all creative professionals dread, and yet it is inevitable when art is made to order in a commercial setting.
 
To try and push past this problem, I began working through my methods for finding creative inspiration – and that inspired me to share them with you! Over the years these 7 strategies have helped me out of more than one creative jam, and they definitely helped get my flyer project back on track.
 

1. Scope out some art

Pretty obvious. But beyond looking at other examples from your own field try looking at examples of other creative disciplines – fine art, fashion, visual merchandising, photography and graphic design can all provide amazing cross-discipline inspiration. No time to head out and hit the galleries? A quick half hour on Pinterest might just do the job.
 

2. Get back to nature

Not only is nature inspiring for its beauty, but being immersed in a natural environment and taking the time to study what you see there – really see what you are looking at – is an excellent mindfulness technique that can help cut through the pressure of the deadline.
 

3. Sleep on it

If you can, take a step back from the creative problem you are trying to solve and let it hover at the back of your consciousness while you go about your day. Giving ideas the chance to arrive organically is always a nice way to start the creative process, when time allows. This one is my go-to for all projects!
 

4. Do something else

Doing something physical like going for a walk, exercising, pulling weeds or cleaning is a great way to clear the creative cobwebs. Just not for too long… because then it becomes procrastination!
 

5. Blind contour drawings


This is the kind of exercise you do when you take a drawing or painting class, and it’s also a fantastic stress buster
. But drawing something from life using one continuous line, and without looking at your page is also a fantastic way to free your brain and get the creative juices flowing. This is one I did this week while wrestling with creative block, and it’s really interesting to see how the line weight and style changes as I start to relax into it. It was a really useful exercise, and at the end of it I was able to scribble a concept for my flyer on the back.
 

6. Change up your concepting strategy

Do you prefer to thumbnail on paper? Maybe it’s time to fire up the computer. Mired down in a digital wasteland? Why not break out the pencils? Sometime you just gotta change it up a bit to get things moving, and it could be as simple as switching from a pencil to a felt tip. You never know!
 

7. Work on another creative project

Working on another project within the same discipline can sometimes move things along. I find nailing another project can be a great boost! But if you find yourself totally blocked, you can try flexing your creative muscles in a totally different field – painting, sculpting, crafting, writing, cooking, singing or playing an instrument – whatever your bag is. But again… not for too long! Set a timer so you don’t fall into the procrastination zone.
 
When inspiration proves elusive it can leave you chasing your own tail. The lack of ideas can cause so much stress that you end up even further away from the right state of mind for creative thinking. These are my sure-fire ways of battling the block – but what’s your favourite strategy for finding lost inspiration? Let me know in the comments section.
 
In the meantime – happy creating!

#designneversleeps #graphicdesign #inspo #justcreate #inspiration #creativeblock #blindcontour #creativeforthepeople #powdermonkeydesign

Dear Design… A Love Letter

Dear Design… A Love Letter

Dear Design… A Love Letter

When I was a kid, and I had to do a school project, I would put way more thought into the look of the thing I was handing up than I did the actual content of the assignment. If it was an A4 report or essay of some kind, I would try to make an elaborate title page. If it was a poster I rejoiced, because it meant drawing, cutting, gluing, fancy hand lettering – whatever was required to create the layout I had in my head.
 
Like most young girls I adored stickers, but the other item I would drop pocket money on in the newsagent was Letraset dry transfer lettering. That stuff was the best! If you’re feeling nerdy, you can check out this awesome article, where Letraset-era designers discuss which of the transfers they loved and loathed. I also developed a technique for creating cool project designs that involved making a layout using elements I had drawn, found or photocopied, gluing them to a sheet of paper, and photocopying the whole design. Then I could embellish this design with colour by hand if I wanted. Sometimes I would photocopy the photocopies of an image many times over, because I liked the slightly distressed look it created.
 
It was only years later when I became a graphic design student that I realised what I had been doing in primary school bore a remarkable resemblance to paste-up – the method of assembling a layout by hand in order to create film, and in turn printing plates. By the time I was a student this manual, labour intensive task had been replaced by computer-to-plate technology. But I was fascinated to learn that long before I had ever heard of graphic design, I was out there doing it.
 
It’s a love affair that continues and that often feels like any other relationship. We endure highs and lows, challenges and moments when we’re reminded why we fell in love in the first place. Me and graphic design. We’ve endured a time (now long past) when I wondered whether or not we should part ways. Then we fell in love all over again and now everything is made new. No detail is too small, no job is too mundane to deserve special attention.
After coming so close to breaking up with design I realised what most people in long term relationships realise – that the secret is always keep it fresh; and always approach even the most humdrum of routine tasks with great passion.
 
So we go on together, me and my first love, excited to see what creative adventures each new day might bring.
 
And I am definitely going to buy some rub-down lettering. Old school. 

#ilovedesign #graphicdesign #origins #letraset #creativeforthepeople #powdermonkeydesign

What’s the difference between a font and a typeface?

What’s the difference between a font and a typeface?

What’s the difference between a font and a typeface?

Are fonts and typefaces the same thing? No. Does it even matter anymore? Probably not.

Find out why these terms aren’t as interchangeable as we might think…

What is the difference between a font and a typeface?

#typesetting #ilovedesign #typography #typefaceorfont #designnerd #designnerdery #designtrivia #graphicdesign #creativeforthepeople #powdermonkeydesign