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If you’re cranking back up for the year again and you’re sketching, hatching and brainstorming a new website… make sure you’re getting the most bang for your time and bucks. You’d be surprised at just how many people launch an amazing looking site, but forget some of these elementary details. Don’t do that! We want you to get your site seen by the people you want to connect with! Although these jobs may not sound like design - they inform the essential thinking that sets you up for an excellent result, before you even start pushing pixels.
Co-founder@ Pixel Together
Wednesday 23rd January 2020
'By having two of the main search keywords not only in your business name but also in your domain AND your handle - it means that the SEO gods are going to start looking on you favourably before you’ve even opened the doors.'
1. Your Name
You want your website or project’s name to be easily articulated, memorable and discovered in a search. So it's good to brainstorm names while also domain-checking them. You can have the best name in the world - but if you can’t get a good domain address AND social media handle, it’s seriously worth re-thinking it.
It’s even better if you can think of a name that has a good keyword in the title. Let’s say you’re starting a business called “Fitzroy Dog Salon” - if you can obtain fitzroydogsalon.com alongside @fitzroydogsalon - you’re going to be onto a winner because your domain has your business’s name as do you social media handles. Google is going to connect these dots together and add in a level of trust to your business immediately. Then cascading on top of that - is the fact that your customers are likely to search ‘fitzroy dog grooming’ when they’re needing your service. By having two of the main search keywords not only in your business name but also in your domain AND your handle - it means that the SEO gods are going to start looking on you favourably before you’ve even opened the doors. Keep in mind - this exercise in itself is no mean feat as so many names are already in use. So - get creative, experiment, brainstorm and if you can’t get all of the ducks in a row, at least shoot for two out of three.
As an aside - I always like writing project names down and typing them out in different fonts and trying objectively look at the word (s) to feel into if it looks harmonious. Some letter and word combinations are just plain ugly! If it feels off kilter - pay attention and tweak it. Our bodies and minds are hardwired to enjoy patterns and symmetry. You want people to look at your brand and feel good, not queasy.
watch this video
Stick with me here and I promise I’ll lead you back to design, via a slight detour! OK so it’s good to think about who your customers are right at the point of design and before you’ve even started sketching rectangles. It’s all about talking to your customers and understanding where they’ll be looking for you and what keywords they’ll be searching for online. Even better - try and figure out what they’re doing when they’re at the point of wanting to purchase you. Make notes or even character sketches of your customer archetypes and note down the keywords applicable to each type of customer. If you can talk to prospective customers, even better. Think of your project as being the solution to your customers’ problem. So if the problem is; ‘my dog stinks’ or ‘my dog needs to be shaved’ - you’ll be able to start curating your keywords around these kinds of searches (keywords are essentially the main words people use in search engines to find you).
Then, you can sprinkle keywords around your website copy and use them to inform the basis your website structure - whereby specific content pieces are explaining out the keywords in greater detail (video, copy, galleries etc).
By knowing explicitly what it is that you offer and to whom - you can start to design your website content around the story you’re telling the world.
'The deeper in the tree, the less important the pages should be, because search engines give more preference to top level linked pages. Your home page is king, followed by pages linked directly from your home page'
Site structure. Ok so now you should have a good looking name, domain, handles and a bunch of customer archetypes alongside a swathe of keywords. NOW you can really get cooking and make some magic.
There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to site structure but the most important thing is to plan your structure out. To do this, you can first put together a sitemap that draws your site pages in a tree format, starting with your home page and branching down your pages based on the depth of the links. The deeper in the tree, the less important the pages should be, because search engines give more preference to top level linked pages. Your home page is king, followed by pages linked directly from your home page and so forth.
Give your pages meaningful names and urls that are both clear to the user as well as incorporating key SEO terms into your page urls. For example, instead of leaving your home page name as just 'Home', it's best to update your home page name to incorporate terms someone is likely to search for when looking for your site e.g. 'Best fish and chip shop in St Kilda'.
Having a well thought out structure will also set you up for a speedier site build as you won't be thinking on the fly while building.
4. Test it!
Make sure you get at least three different people to test our your new design! The beauty of Pixel is that it can work as a prototype. So make the most of that and get would-be customers, anyone else really to have a play with your site to ensure that what you're doing makes logical sense. You don't want to make your customers think too hard. And to test that, you really need to get your website into a complate strangers hands before you really truly understand how you website is coming across. For more on this topic - read Steve Krug's Don't Make Me Think. It's an old classic but still holds up.
Thursday 23rd January 2020
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