Website Design Process

I’ll show you what you need to think about before, during and after designing and building a successful website that will boost your brand and credibility without all the unnecessary stuff that most web designers will convince you (or agree to provide you) that you need.

I’ll take you through all the steps to form a solid foundation of who your customers are, how you can help them, what you can offer them, what your business stands for, and more so you can create the best possible outcome for you, your business, and your customers.

WARNING!
This page is LONG

Here is what I’ll show you

I’ll show you what you need to think about before, during and after designing and building a successful website that will boost your brand and credibility without all the unnecessary stuff that most web designers will convince you (or agree to provide you) that you need.

I'll take you through all the steps to form a solid foundation of who your customers are, how you can help them, what you can offer them, what your business stands for, and more so you can create the best possible outcome for you, your business, and your customers.

WARNING! This is a LONG article, if you’re in a hurry SKIP TO OUR PROCESS

Building a website is hard work, but it doesn’t need to be

So often I see people put time and money into the wrong things that won’t do anything to help their business (t-shirts and coffee mugs anyone!?) I put it down to impatience and a lack of planning.

Right now you either have:

  • a badly designed website that you’re not proud of or you’re are embarrassed to show the world
  • a digital marketing strategy that isn’t getting you the results you want
  • or you have nothing at all

Do you really want to do everything yourself?

You don’t have time, or don’t want to work out how to design, build, update, and maintain it all yourself and hiring a staff member to do it for you which will cost tens of thousands of dollars per year and is not in the budget.

Thinking about all of this, and maybe even trying to get it done yourself, has taken up too much of your time and is costing you money.

You just want to get on with running your business so you can do what you do best and grow your business and have a day or two off sometime to spend with family and friends.

Analysis Paralysis 

You know you need a “website” (whatever that means now) especially in these current times so that people can find out more about you and get in touch any time of the day or night, but when you start looking into you the amount of options are overwhelming and it's almost paralyzing to make a decision.

Between all the ads out there for “easy to use” page builders like SquareSpace, Wix, Weebly and whatever else (which are an absolute ball ache to use most of the time) and every guru and their dog telling you what you need to do and getting caught up in the tools, it's almost impossible to figure out what you should do and you end up doing nothing at all.

You might have even signed up for a trial and dived in to start building your site, only to discover it wasn't anywhere near as simple as they make it out to be and won’t do the things you need it to do without monthly add-ons that add to your website costs.

Their marketing strategy is to make it seem so easy, get you to sign up, until you log in and see all these options and don't know where to go next.

You still have a business to run and trying to work out all the tools and the right direction to go is taking you away from spending time running and working on your business.

Done is better than perfect

The longer you leave it, the more time your competition has their shit together and the further you are falling behind by not keeping up with new ways of marketing your business and selling your products or services.

You're probably not making the most of automation for things like lead generation and sales which is taking up too much of you and your staff's time, costing you time and money in the process and wearing you down.

You just want your business to work so you can take some time off guilt free from time to time to spend time with your family and friends and know that your business is rolling along without you having to be thinking about it all 24/7 or waking up at 2am stressing out about it.

You might even have had a website built a while ago, but it’s not doing what you hoped it would and now you wish you never wasted the time and money on it.

You're convinced that nothing you do will fix it and you're tempted to give up and go and get a mindless job so you don't have to deal with it anymore.

If you don’t sort it out soon you might have to scale back the business or lay people off, or worse, shut the business down because you can't keep running on the treadmill like this.

There is always going to be other people doing the same things as you in business and someone with more money, time, ambition, drive, and guts to try new things and push that little bit further.

That's fine, you don't need to be the absolute best in your field, but by not getting your digital marketing sorted, it's going to be really tough to compete when thousands and thousands of younger, better, faster businesses are coming online every month and every year.

It doesn't matter what industry you're in, the internet has affected it and improved it in some way and made it easier and more efficient to do business with you.

It’s only a matter of time

The longer you leave it, the harder it’s going to get to compete with others who’ve taken the time to get systems in place and taken the leap to leverage automation and bring their business into the future.

You might be able to keep your business running without getting your digital marketing dialed in, but it’s going to take up a lot more of your time in future than if you invest some time on the right things now.

It might seem like a stretch, but keeping things going the way they are now being overworked and trying to keep everything above water could well result in being overly stressed, lack of sleep from worry, relationships going bad because of anger and frustration.

Imagine if you could just take advantage of even a small percentage of the technology available today to automate some tasks and take some work off your plate!

No more checking email every 5 minutes to see if you have had any new business come in, or to make sure there are no fires to put out.

There’s a lot of bad information and advice about websites out there

A lot of business owners think they need a fancy custom website with features specific only to their business and a whole lot of information nobody will read, or be blogging and creating content constantly and posting on every social media outlet to compete with other businesses in their industry.

They often get so caught up in how they’re going to make their website do all these things, and what tools and tactics they’re going to use, that they forget that the main reason they're in business is to help people and to make it as easy as possible to do business together.

The truth is, you don’t always need to be doing all of this. In fact you may not even need a website, at least in the way most people think of a ‘website’ which has many meanings these days.

The word ‘website’ is such a loose term these days and could be any of the following kinds of things and more:

  • A simple landing page to give your brand a presence online
  • A brochure site purely for information and education
  • A blog with posts about a specific niche or topic
  • A sales page with carefully researched and written copywriting
  • A marketing funnel with automated lead generation and email sequences
  • An ecommerce online store for selling digital or physical products
  • A learning management system (LMS) for online courses
  • A membership site
  • A social network

The type of website you need for your business totally depends on your goals, the outcome you're expecting to get from it, and the amount of work you're prepared to put into it after it launches.

It’s not all about you

Something I see all the time are websites that try to act as a brochure or a billboard for business explaining everything about them, how long they’re been in business, a list of services they provide, technical terms that nobody really understands, and other stuff that doesn't really help people.

While you do need to communicate what your business is about to your audience, it's way more effective to reframe what you do in a way that tells them who exactly you work with and how you can help them solve their problems, putting the customer first and showing them how you can help them on their journey, whichever step they are at.

You could have all the website traffic in the world by using tactics like regular blogging, SEO, Facebook ads, or whatever other strategies are popular at the time, but if people don’t know how you can help them get from where they are to where they want to be, then you'll just have a website with loads of visitors and no sales.

It’s time to get specific

The way we look at building websites is to take a step back and get specific about who your ideal customers are, all the different ways you help them, define and refine your offers, and tie it all in to a clear offer that they will understand and be excited about taking you up on.

Couple that with a clean simple design that’s fast and works great on all different screen sizes and doesn’t get bogged down in confusing details, and you have a tool that will work for you, even when you’re at the pub with mates or enjoying a weekend off with family!

More traffic to your website is not a solution on its own. I can seem like an easy fix to throw money at the problem and pay for some Facebook or Google ads, or some other online advertising, but it’s like pouring fuel on a fire.

If you don’t have a fire steadily crackling away already, you’ll be pouring fuel on a pile of sticks and wasting your time and money.

Before you even think about trying to get more visitors to your website, you need to be sure that your products are what people want and that your offers are presented in a way that people will want to act on them, whether that be book in a phone call, schedule an appointment, make a sale, or whatever a conversion means to your business.

Your family or friends might also have an opinion on the design of your website, but they don’t know your business like you do so take their opinion with a grain of salt.

You know your business inside out better than anyone else so try not to get distracted by outside opinions or tools and tactics that your brother’s mate heard about somewhere but has never actually tried.

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when there are simple strategies that have been proven to work time and time again. Simple doesn't always mean easy, and there will always be some work required to achieve a result, but too many people tend to over complicate things and lose sight of what their goals REALLY are.

On the surface your goals for your business might look like:

  • Get more visitors and leads to my website
  • Promote my cool new product or service
  • Sell more stuff

But in my experience the real goals are usually:

  • Make more money
  • Have more time
  • Have a better quality of life

My main focus when I start any new website project is to:

  • Make the business look as awesome as it can to boost it’s credibility
  • Make it as easy as possible for people to find the information they're looking for
  • Communicate clearly to the ideal customer or audience member how you can help them and how they can buy from you or work with you
  • Convince them to become a customer and stay a customer for a long time

By setting the foundation for a solid digital marketing strategy, and not just building a shiny new website, we can get closer to achieving the real goals of make more money, have more time, and have a better quality of life.

Things are constantly changing

The changes we see every year in technology and also in the world as a whole, (especially since 2020!) are happening at such a rapid pace it can feel impossible to keep up.

More and more people are being forced to work remotely or find alternative ways to create an income to provide for themselves and their families.

As a result, the growing number of people spending more time online, more and more people are getting familiar and becoming comfortable with doing business online and getting used to the fact that this is the way things will stay.

Although it is important to stay up to date with trends, the overall principals haven’t changed in thousands of years. People still have problems they want solved, and people either try to fix it themselves or will seek out the right person for the job.

It’s just that the different ways these things are provided has undergone a massive shift in the past decade, and most recently as we’ve seen with this global pandemic that could drag on for years to come, with irreversible changes to how we interact with each other in future.

A recent study showed that the number of people in the world on the internet has increased to 4.54 billion, up 7% (almost 300 million new users) compared to January 2019.

Source: https://thenextweb.com/growth-quarters/2020/01/30/digital-trends-2020-every-single-stat-you-need-to-know-about-the-internet/

These numbers are going to keep growing and growing.

It’s now easier, cheaper, and faster than ever to start a business that can easily be run from your own home, but the longer you leave it, the harder it will get to stand out from the noise as millions and millions more people come online.

You might think you have a business that you think won’t benefit from an online presence, but you would be surprised at what some people have achieved online in industries that seem like they would have no place on the web.

Socially it has become more acceptable to whip out your phone and buy literally anything you can think of while you’re waiting for a coffee or lined up at the supermarket. That is if you even need to go to the supermarket anymore with the ability to buy everything you need and have it delivered to your door.

If you don't take action now and get your website and online presence sorted, more competition will come along that is able to move much faster and tap into a whole market that you may be unable to reach by sticking with outdated tactics and technology.

This is an exciting time to be in business! Never before has it been so easy to reach people who want what you offer and be able to work with them without either of you even leaving your home.

You snooze, you lose

And to top it off, none of us are getting any younger!

My 4 year old kid can pick up an iPad and figure out how to get into pretty much any app, and navigate their way around it in a way that would have sounded like a complete science fiction fantasy 10-15 years ago.

I’m excited (and a little scared) to see what the future holds. The next generation are going to be exponentially smarter than we were at their age so we have to do everything we know how to do now just to keep up with how business is going to be run in future.

There’s no reason to wait until everything is perfect before you get started. As the saying goes “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now”.

So what should you do?

It’s easier today and there are more tools readily available than ever before to make all this happen in a way that will benefit you and your business, and as a result, your lifestyle, your family and everyone in your life.

I’ve become obsessed with figuring out the best way I can help people like you to use the internet to improve your business and boost your credibility so you can do what needs to be done to achieve your goals.

The SwiftSites website design process

My 5 step web design and development process is called SWIFT and it looks like this

  • Scan 
  • Why, Who, What
  • Image 
  • Fabricate 
  • Transform

How the SWIFT process works

1. Scan

Discovery session and audit

We’re all busy and want everything to happen yesterday. The problem is that we often tend to rush in and skip the crucial first stages of taking a step back and scanning the entire situation to see where we’re at now and where we want to end up.

With so much constantly changing online and so many tools and different opinions for websites out there, you might be confused or not even know where to start! The truth is that it doesn't matter too much at this stage.

What is more important is that we start to get an idea of where you are now and where you want to be, and why you REALLY want to do any of this in the first place.

Everyone is different and has their own personal situation. For some people the main reason to grow their business might be to provide for their family and have something to hand down to their kids. For others it might be to build something up as quickly as possible to sell so they can get some time back and enjoy the fruits of all their hard work.

This is where we jump on a call and talk about your business vision, mission, and goals so that instead of jumping in blind, we’re getting clearer on your ultimate goals so we can provide the best service and to see if we’re a good fit to work together

We’re not going to jump straight into building anything right now, in fact, we might realise we’re not going to be a good fit to work together and decide to part ways before we even begin! That’s totally fine, and will save everyone a lot of time and heartache.

Now is a good time to discuss high level ideas for how your website can be leveraged to grow your business.

Try not to get caught up in what tools might be used and what features you think you want.

Think outside the box about what you already know can be done with a website and other digital marketing tools. Remember, things are always changing rapidly so there are bound to be things you haven’t thought of, or don’t know are possible.

We’ll also have a look at what you have in place now and decide what can be reused or what needs to be created so we can get a clear idea of what we can use to save time.

2. Why, Who, What

Your audience, product, and offer

Why are you doing this?

Decide on your most important goals at this time and really think about why you want to achieve them.

  • Do you really want to get more people coming to your website or do you want to make more sales? 
  • Do you really want more sales or do you want more money coming in? 
  • Do you really want more money coming in or do you want more free time to spend on other things like hanging with friends, spending time with your family or hobbies?

Maybe the answer isn’t to get more traffic to your website, but to use technology to automate some tasks and free up some of your time. The only way we’ll really know what needs to be done is to get to the bottom of your real reasons behind your goals.

Find clarity and reduce stress involved with trying to do too many things by picking one clear goal.

The majority of small businesses are too busy bragging about themselves trying to sell a list of features and maybe some vague benefits to a broad audience of customers who aren't really that interested.

Leading on from the initial discovery session, we’ll start to dig in and narrow down on who your ideal customers or audience are to be able to develop clearer and more targeted messaging and stop wasting time chasing people who don’t care.

When you really think about it, it’s fairly unlikely every human from the age of 0 - 100 is your ideal customer. Be honest about who you want to work with, who you are most likely to be able to help, who is most profitable, and forget about everyone else.

When you think about how you help a specific group of people solve their problems and make their life better, it will become so much easier to communicate more clearly with them how you can help them which in turn will make selling to them much easier and you’ll be more likely to blow them away with your service.

When you know your real goals and who your audience or customers are, you can lay out your core products and get rid of the ones that aren’t benefiting your business.

Grab a piece of paper and make a list of every single product or service you offer.

  • Which of these do you love doing most? 
  • Which ones do you hate? 
  • Which ones are most valuable to your customers?

Get clear on your process and products so you can get clear on your offer.

Define your offer and ask “so what?”

Why would anyone really want this? Know exactly what it is you’re offering and why to speed up the sales process and stop customising everything for everyone.

Then we can map out your entire process and break it down into a repeatable system that can easily be packaged up and sold to your ideal customers.

You will get clarity on what it is you do and how it can be repeated over and over to save you time and provide a better service.

3. Image

Logo, branding, and social proof

Once we’re all on the same page and everyone is clear on WHY you want a new website, WHO the website is for, and an overview of WHAT will be involved to make it all happen, it could be time to start designing your logo and colour scheme.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Branding is a whole other topic that could have it’s own post.

If a business is starting from scratch or wants to update their overall look, I often design logos and colour schemes for my clients as an add-on service to web design, and I believe it’s enough for most small businesses, depending on the goals.

You might be just trying to test the waters to see if a new business idea is worth pursuing. In this case a simple, clean logo design and minimal colour palette could be enough to get you going.

Some people will already have their own logo and colour scheme which can often (but not always) be used as a basis for the website design.

Your brand is one of the most important things in your business and is more than just a logo and a combination of colours.

A solid brand should also encapsulate your values and your way of doing business and can help to set you apart from (or even eliminate) your competition.

If you’re serious about your business, I highly recommend looking into hiring a branding specialist to develop a more complete brand strategy for your business.

If we agree that a straightforward logo design and colour scheme will do the job at this stage of your business, we’ll have you complete a branding discovery worksheet that will help us both figure out the best way to move forward.

Completing a discovery worksheet will help us both get a better idea of what you stand for as a brand, eliminating guesswork, and speeding up the process, so we can nail the design faster without too much back and forth.

We’ll get to work and come up with ONE logo idea as a starting point, which we can then refine based on your feedback until it’s just right.

Once everything is approved, all of the required images and a style guide will be put together and organised into a suite of assets in one place so you don’t have to think about it every time you need to find a logo file or something to do with your branding.

This will make it easy to ensure your brand looks consistent throughout your new website and also on social media, email signatures, stationery, business cards, signage, and more which will be a major factor in your businesses perceived professionalism.

The proof is in the pudding

One of the best ways to position yourself as trustworthy and professional is to have social proof in the form of (positive) reviews and testimonials from people you’ve worked with before.

The best time to ask for this is during, or straight after a project is finished so the experience is fresh in their minds, but there’s no reason you can’t ask people for a review a while afterwards.

A cool trick I use is to have a customised link that I send to my clients that goes directly to the reviews page, which makes it super quick and easy to get great Google reviews from clients. You can also do this for other review services.

You can then take these reviews and testimonials and add them to your website to show the world how impressive you are to make it easy for potential customers to understand you have a proven track record.

4. Fabricate

Design and build digital marketing tools

This is where the fun starts!

It’s time to start designing and building your website and getting everything set up the right way.

So many people get this wrong, usually as a result of lack of planning, and end up diving in too early, making it up as they go along, or scrambling to implement things at the last minute that should have been done from the start.

If you get your website and other digital marketing tools set up and configured right from the beginning, you’re more likely to build the right thing for your business, and it will save you a lot of headaches down the track when it comes to ongoing management and maintenance of your website.

It totally depends on what we spoke about earlier in the process as far as your business goals, but this part of the process could include anything from a basic website build, to a carefully crafted series of automated pages designed to educate and encourage website visitors to buy from you.

It’s entirely possible to automate much of the customer journey which can save you loads of time and money by letting the website handle it for you.

How good would it be to not have to answer the same questions over and over, or speak to people on the phone to do things that can be done automatically using your website?

What do you use to build websites?

We usually use WordPress and have done so for over ten years as it can handle almost anything you throw at it. WordPress is a popular and widely used content management system that is used to build websites, but at the end of the day, it’s just a tool.

Testing 123

After we’ve gone through everything on the website and you’ve approved it all, the testing begins. This will make sure everything is working as expected so that we’re not frantically trying to add forgotten features or functionality months down the track when someone realises a crucial part of the site is not working.

Now we’re ready to launch and we’ll go through a step by step process to get your new website live and out there on the world wide web, and performing as best it can so your online customers have the best experience doing business with you possible.

We check off a bunch of tasks to make sure nothing has been missed, and also put a plan in place for the ongoing management and maintenance of the website so that everything hums along smoothly.

Every precaution is taken to make sure backups are in place and to stop bad things happening to the site such as being hacked, which could result in sometimes massive losses of business.

You’re welcome to look after the ongoing management and maintenance of your website yourself, but if that’s not your thing, we also have website care plans that are designed to regularly care for your website and keep it in top shape.

Technology and software changes so often, so it’s important to keep everything backed up, updated regularly to avoid software conflicts and potential hacks, secured from pesky bots and hackers, and optimised to perform as best it can so you have the confidence that your website is always online and working for your business.

5. Transform

Make the most of your digital marketing and transform your business

Now that your website is live, the very first step is to make sure you’re tracking visitors so you know where they’re coming from, what they’re looking for, and how many of them there are.

This will make it possible to get insights using data into who is visiting your site and what they’re looking at so you can make better informed decisions about your website and your business.

You can also add things like a Facebook pixel, which will track traffic and enable you to create highly targeted ads based on the way your visitors use your website if that’s something you think you might want to do in future.

If you build it, will they come?

Nope!

All websites designed and built by SwiftSites are search engine friendly and optimised for basic SEO (search engine optimisation), but it’s not enough to just have a website built, put it out in the world, and hope people flock to it.

One of the main reasons websites get traffic from search engines is that they have relevant content that people are searching for that is regularly added and updated.

It’s not realistic to launch a website and expect it to be ‘at the top of Google’ after a couple of weeks or even months, especially when the content is thin or not added to regularly.

If you or someone who works for you can write and post regular content aimed at your audience that explains your process in detail and how you can help them, you’ll be ahead of most of your competition.

Coming up with ideas is easy. You can do things like take questions your customers are always asking and answer them in your website content, blog posts and social media posts.

You can enhance the effectiveness of your content by doing some keyword research to find out what people are searching for and tailor your content to speak to that.

The great thing with doing this is that it shows your knowledge, expertise, and authority on your subject and gives you something you can share that explains who you help and how you can help them without having to explain it to everyone every time.

There are a lot of other tactics you can use to get more traffic to your website and get more business.

It’s a good idea to regularly brainstorm ideas and develop a plan for ongoing content creation, traffic, and lead generation so you can get focussed on what content you need to create to generate traffic and you’re not just creating content mindlessly or jumping from tactic to tactic without giving it enough time to see results.

You can also potentially shorten the time to see results by running ads to your website and then maximise results by using very specifically crafted retargeting ads to people you know have already been to your site.

As long as your offer is solid and visitors know exactly what to do when they get to your website, it’s possible to multiply the return on your investment quite a lot.

So what’s next?

Congratulations if you’ve made it this far! It sounds like a lot to take in, but I’ve only scratched the surface with what’s possible.

You might be thinking:

  • Jeez that sounds like a lot of work!
  • Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Yes it’s a lot of hard work and will take time and effort on your part.

The internet has a bad reputation for creating unrealistic expectations about what’s possible with next to no effort or time spent.

If you compare it to the old school way of doing business though, the potential for success is much higher and the risk is much lower compared to the days of having to find a premises to rent or buy, fitting it out, having technology and systems installed

Doing things the old way could take at least several months and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars before you’ve made a cent from your business.

The relatively low cost of entry with an online business makes it so much easier and less stressful than it used to be.

But what if I don’t know how to do any of this?

That’s where I come in. Yes you will have work to do, but I’ll be with you every step of the way to guide you through the process.

My favourite part is when we get together, start digging into what your business is all about and seeing light bulbs start going off.

It’s really cool to see ideas come up and things taking shape that can be used to not only build a great website, but also how to use all the cool technology so readily available to us nowadays to improve your business, and ultimately your life.

Also, I’m a bit of a gadget nerd so I love trying new toys 🙂

Get results faster

Do you want to get your website and digital marketing sorted once and for all and start getting better results in your business?

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions at all about the process, or how I can help.

Are you ready to take the next step?

If you’re ready to commit and boost your business then book a call with us today.

We’ll find out exactly what’s been holding you back from getting your website finished sooner and show you how you can accomplish your goals.