If you’re anything like me, 2020 was going to be my year. It was going to be a year of triumph, a year for my creativity to shine, a year where I was going to become a networking Queen, a year where I was going to take over the world… Instead, COVID-19 took over.

Many businesses were forced to close their doors and enter the online world. An online world where you have a virtual shop, a special digital user experience (UX), and a completely new way of life. Sure, eBay and Amazon have trained us how to shop online, and we all know how to buy a gift voucher for a loved one’s birthday, but have we ever really looked at what a website is? With this new routine forced upon us, how would we adapt our own businesses and enter the world wide web forum?

After deciding that moving your business online was the right decision, you were then faced with a multitude of problems; How do I make a website? What platform should I host it on? How do I create a shop? How do I book a Zoom meeting? How do I link it to PayPal or Stripe or any other plethora of payment gateways…? It’s truly overwhelming.

Let’s start at the very beginning, Julie Andrews style.

1. Colours

Colours play a massive role in web design. They allow the designer to bring the website to life by using accent colours to pick out button/call-to-action (CTA) detailing. They allow for a brighter menu design or a functional footer to stand out. They allow web designers to draw attention to the important things. They allow for a better UX.
The best way to communicate a colour to your web designer is via hex code. This is usually a 6-digit code with a # before it e.g. #ffffff (which is white). You can search ‘find my hex code’ and several sites come up, allowing you to add a picture and source the code. My favourite site to use is https://imagecolorpicker.com/

2. Fonts

For those that don’t know, a font is the style your text is written in. Most people know the fonts ‘Arial’ and ‘Calibri’ because of Microsoft Word and Excel. There is an amazing catalogue of fonts on the web. I use https://fonts.adobe.com/ to select mine and it’s a great place for you to start! If you know your font and have access to the font files, then web designers can tailor your website to match your brand. It makes it look more professional and streamline, as I’m sure you’ll agree.

3. Images

Sometimes, I get a screenshotted image from a search engine and I am asked to use that on a website. As web designers, we can’t use search engine images for copyright reasons (unless you have contacted the owner of the image and received permission to use it). Images online will be resized depending on the device you are viewing the website – Desktop PC, Notebook, Tablet, and Smartphone – your website will respond accordingly. This means your images must be of a certain size and quality.
Great websites to look at copyright-free images are: https://www.pexels.com/ and https://unsplash.com/. They are websites where the photographer or graphic designer gives their permission for their images to be used freely, wherever, and you do not have to credit them (although it’s nice to!). Make sure you save in a hi-res format or ‘large’.
If you want to use photographs that are personal to the business i.e. building shots, staff photographs etc. I would advise you hire a photographer to take them. Yes, you will have to pay for the service, and I know that in this current climate we are trying to lessen the expenditure of the business, however, I think this investment is totally worth it. Your photographer will present you with hi-res images, tailor-made to work across all social media platforms, not just your website. Something to think about for sure!

4. Content

When you start building a website, most clients have a tendency to want to use the platform to tell everyone absolutely everything about what they do. In some cases, this has to be done, especially if you’re a Mortgage Advisor or Solicitor. There are certain criteria you must meet. Generally, a website is an online business card, an expansion of your brand. Your brand will tell a customer who you are, and you just need to give them a little more information.
Keep it concise and tailored to your audience: do not waffle. A paragraph of around 250 words is more than enough for each section. Think about when you are scrolling on a website: do you read everything? Or are you looking at the pictures and scanning to get to the bit you want? Do not put your customers through the rigmarole of scrolling forever – they will jump-ship and abandon your website. Engage them within the first 5 seconds and you’re golden.

5. Design

Sometimes it’s a struggle to relay exactly what you want to your web designer. The best way to do it, in my experience, is to create a mood/vision board on Pinterest. It is a great tool and a fantastic way to collate several ideas into one place. Colours, fonts, pictures that you resonate with, design ideas… it can all go in there. The best thing about it is, you can share your Pinterest board with your designer, and they can add things to it too. You end up with a great board full of ideas, and it will help your web designer have a better understanding about what your brand is about.

If you approach a website designer with your colour scheme and hex codes, fonts and font files, hi-res images, clear and concise content, and a mood/vision board in Pinterest, they are likely to kiss you (not literally)! You might not know exactly what you want, but a good website designer will be able to deliver a website that fits your brand and image with these five handy hints.

This blog was produced by Jade Thunder, Founder of Hashtag Web Design. Her mission is to change the status quo of website design through demystifying the process, improving accessibility, driving creativity, delivering astounding value for money, and proudly positioning women at the forefront of the industry. Find out more about Hashtag Web Design