Stuck For Words


POSTED ON TUESDAY, AUGUST 23, 2011 AT 11:52 AM

Back in May, we posted an article about content writing which covered some of the basics on how to make your website more interesting and informative. That article was geared more towards those who already have a website (and/or a blog). But lately, we've been talking to lots of people who are just — well, simply stuck for words. They want us to design a new website for them but they just don't know where to start.

We often receive calls from people wanting one or two-page websites. Sometimes, it's a budgeting factor but most often, it's simply because people don't have enough time to "think their website through". They're in too much of a rush. Before we go any further, let us just say that no matter which medium you currently use for advertising (newspaper ads, phone books, etc.), your new website is going to become the most effective advertising medium you could ask for when it's all complete. So why not invest some quality time in planning out your website first? If you really want your website to work for you, the last thing you want to do is rush the process. Set a reasonable budget and focus on your content.

A small, one or two-page "quick" website built on a $300 budget may look unappealing to a potential customer. When you cram every last bit of information about your company into one or two pages (pages which are often very long and "scattered"), it's difficult to portray the same type of professionalism which larger, well-organized websites have*. Credibility is the keyword here. You might lose more customers than you'll gain within 15 seconds of a first glance if your website isn't laid out in the proper way — in a consistent way which people have become accustomed to seeing on the Internet over the years.

Before you even contact a web designer, here's a great little exercise which will help you to get started. Set some time aside, sit down and get comfortable, put your best foot forward and write your own "story" about your business. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • How long have you been in business?
  • Where are you located?
  • Which areas do you serve (ie: Greater Vancouver, all of BC, all of Canada)?
  • What are your hours of operation?
  • Who is the "target audience" you are trying to attract (ie: age, interest, market)?
  • Which products and services do you offer?
  • What are your goals (ie: Mission Statement)?
  • What have you accomplished over the years (ie: Milestones and Accolades)?
  • Who have you worked for (ie: Testimonials)?
  • Do you have any resources or helpful information you can offer to those visiting your website (ie: FAQ's, guides, downloads, tips, how-to's)?
  • What sets you apart from your competitors?

There's plenty more — be creative and proactive. People like to learn a little bit about who they're dealing with, how long you've been around and who you've worked for when they visit your website. Spend a few nights working on this and you'll be amazed at what you come up with. You'll end up with a complete resumé — the best first impression you could possibly present to someone on the Internet.

Now spend a bit of time organizing everything you've just written and you'll begin to see where you can break your resumé up into different sections. Sections such as About Us, Services We Offer, Clients We Work For, Testimonials and many others. It doesn't take long — these sections will become the links on your website which people will click on to navigate through your company's new Internet presence, page by page.

Once you've done this, note that the hardest part of designing your website has now been completed. By you. Congratulations. You can now go ahead and contact a web designer and see how much easier the whole web design process becomes. Of course, we can take everything you've written and help refine it for you. That's part of the process, too — part of our job. From there, supporting your content with the appropriate layout, graphical design elements and photos go hand in hand.

One of the most difficult parts of designing websites can be the content phase. People will sometimes run into serious roadblocks when they just don't know what to say or how to go about saying it. Don't become overwhelmed and don't get too far ahead of yourself. You've no doubt heard the saying "one day at a time" — when writing your content and planning out your website, just take it one word at a time.

Go ahead and start working on that first impression. Study your competitors. Look at what they have to say and how they say it but don't try to copy them. Try to be different. Try to be better. With a bit of effort and some careful thought, you'll soon realize that it isn't as difficult as you might think.

For those of you who just can't seem to get it all down on paper no matter how hard you try, note that MW Web Design now offers web copywriting and proofreading services. Although these services are not included in our website design packages, they are available at an additional hourly rate for both new and existing clients. Feel free to contact us if you happen to be "stuck for words"...

* Don't get us wrong — bigger isn't always necessarily better but when it comes to the Internet, you only get one chance to make a good first impression. We recommend a minimum of 5 pages for any new website. There are many reasons why we suggest avoiding a lower page count. We'll be happy to discuss this with you during the course of planning your web design project.

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