Going from drywall to design can be confusing.Creating a website on your own seems scary at first, but there are several tools to make it look professional without hiring an expensive web design company to do it for you. Creating your company website yourself isn’t just satisfying, it can be a cost-effective way to build trust with prospective customers and enhance their overall customer experience. Here are your objectives:
1. Create a blueprint.
“Failing to prepare, is preparing to fail.”
– Benjamin FranklinFirst, ask yourself how your company will benefit from a website. Many home service professionals get their business from word of mouth or lead generation sources such as HomeAdvisor, Angie’s List, ThumbTack or Amazon Home Services. Perhaps you would like to add a website to your profile to help you secure more leads through features like online booking and embedded contact forms. Or maybe you’re just looking for a simple site with your contact information on it and a few customer testimonials. Maybe you just want a place to refer customers so they can look at photos from recent jobs you’ve completed. Determine what pages you would like to have on your site. These are the main categories you will store your information under. Keeping these broad, but clear is the best way to ensure customers are curious enough to click them, but have a good idea of what they will find once they do. Example: Home, Services, Testimonials, About Us, Contact Creating a website “blueprint” that lays out why you’re creating the site and the main things it needs to include will ensure you’re happy with the end result.
2. Build a solid foundation.The same way every house needs a solid foundation, your website’s foundation ensures it’s stability and guards you from potential future threats (which seem unlikely, but are pretty common). Make sure you secure the future of your site by leveraging some tried and true tools to create that foundation:
- Choosing a web-host with 24/7 support so that if something does go wrong you have someone available to assist you right away. WordPress and Squarespace are two of the world’s most popular hosts. Check them both out before deciding which is right for you.
- Selecting a webhost that automatically backs up your site for you. Most hosts do automatic back up, but make this a requirement when shopping around.
- Always use a .com (there are a few new domains that are becoming popular such as “.io” and “.me” but when it comes to security “.com” is your safest bet.
- Never use a dash (/) or a hyphen (-) in between words in a domain name. For example: “washington-hvac.io” vs. “washingtonhvac.com”
3. Build a skeleton.Now that you have a strong foundation for your site, you can build its skeleton similar to the rough frame of a house. Whether you’ve decided to go with WordPress, Squarespace or another website builder like Wix, Web, or Weebly there will be templates for you to start with. Choosing the right template for your business will make your entire website building experience more satisfying. Most builder sites categorize their templates to make it easier for you to narrow down your search. Some templates fit several molds, so you may see the same template in multiple categories such as the Shift template on SquareSpace. Once you’ve chosen a template, you’ll need to write the copy – “copy” is the information you will display on your site. It’s easiest to do this by page. Create a document that organizes each page with clear headlines and information pertaining to the subject of the headline to go along with it. For example: Sean Berg of Doc Joe’s Plumbing organizes his homepage with promotions first and services underneath:
Sean doesn’t include much copy on his homepage, because his main objective is to display services for prospective customers to browse through. He has a separate “About Us” page that customers can click on to learn more about the company as a whole.
Next he advertises charity work that his company does as well as open positions the company is looking to fill.
Sean even takes it a step further and includes an online portal where his current customers can login to his mHelpDesk account (with limited access) to view the status of work orders and invoices and even pay him online.
4. Plug in, connect and sell!Guide visitors through the site and encourage conversion by displaying headlines and calls to action with clear hierarchy.
Customers take the path of least resistance, so emphasize what you want them to do and make it easy for them to do it.
In order to create an effective and aesthetically pleasing website, always follow the KISS principle of design. KISS stands for “Keep It Simple, Stupid.” The term was coined by the Navy in the 1970s and has become a rule of thumb for designers worldwide. You want to give the customer a clear and easy path to doing what you want. Going back to the KISS principle. I can’t stress this enough: simplicity is the key to design satisfaction. This is good news for someone who may not necessarily have a background in design but is looking to create a website that’s pleasing to the eye. Sound familiar? Color Theory Let’s start with your colors and logo. Appy Vohra, mHelpDesk’s Senior UI Designer, recommends using Adobe Kuler or Palletab to choose your colors and if you don’t have a logo yet, you can use a free generator like Graphic Springs or LogoTypeMaker. Logos and branding either build trust and create a sense of legitimacy or instantly raise red flags in your customer’s mind. Many brands place their logo at the top of their site for this reason. Keep your themes, colors and branding consistent throughout the whole site. White Space Giving your elements room to breathe is a surefire way to create a visually appealing site. “When in doubt, subtract,” says Vohra. “Less is always more when it comes to design.” Typography
“Pick your lowest font size and go from there. If your smallest is 12px, which is the body copy, then use 24px for the header and 48px or 72px for the title.”
– Appy Vohra, UI Designer, mHelpDesk“Pick your lowest font size and go from there. If your smallest is 12px, which is the body copy, then use 24px for the heading and 48px or 72px for the title.” -Appy Vohra, UI Designer, mHelpDesk
Think about the neighbors.Too often general customer testimonials are plastered all over company websites. For example: “Pete’s HVAC is great. We love them!” by Steve Jones. Bland testimonials are simply not believable and sound fake. If you’re going to include a testimonial on your site, make sure the quote or video tells the prospective customer why this person recommends you, what solution you provided for them, and how you made their life easier.