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Day 17: Sketch Your Website

Today's Prompt:

Consider what features you would like your website to include (if you’re going to have a website). Draft out some rough sketches of what it looks like in your head. Share them in the comments section of today’s post on www.30dod.com for feedback!

Now that we’ve given some thought to what other websites inspire us, we can think about the design of our own website.

Drafting out a website by hand, even very roughly, will help you choose which website builder to use if you haven’t already decided. Think back to yesterday’s exercise, and note which features of your favorite websites you liked the most. Did one of your competitors have a really nice blog as an additional part of their website? Was the simple, bold look of another what you’d like to achieve as well? Begin jotting down what common features these websites shared, and use them to sketch out your own home page.

For example, if you know you simply want a landing page to advertise your services and then be contacted directly, spend some time drafting the content and layout of the basic landing page. You can take a quick look at (free) templates offered by WordPress that are easy to set up and maintain.

If you are going to be showcasing several or all of your product options (bouquets, furniture, artwork, jewelry, etc.) for direct sales, then you may want to either set up an online shop on one of Squarespace’s templates or install WooCommerce as a plugin on a WordPress page. WooCommerce is a piece of free software (a plugin) that allows you to build a full-fledged store on WordPress. Kyle recently build anorakcoffee.co.uk, and the online shop section is run by WooCommerce.

Remember, though: when you’re starting out, simple is best. Some website developers can charge thousands of dollars/pounds or more to customize your website for you. You’re just starting out and getting a feel for your branding and your goals. There’s no sense in wasting resources on an expensive website when you might change your mind in a couple of months. All of the inexpensive or free options for website building can offer what you need for now.

Here’s my (Casey’s) example of my “drafted blog.” I know that I’d like to write about travel and share my family recipes on it, so I searched through other travel and food bloggers’ sites to get an idea of how I’d like to start out. To reiterate: The important thing is not to fixate too much on the look. I spent more than a few hours obsessing over theme options on WordPress, and that’s time I could have spent writing more content. I ultimately decided to keep my theme really simple while incorporating some key features that I really liked from sites I admire. No doubt, I will come back to my site’s design again and again.

Features to consider including on your website: a blog about your passion and updates about your product, a photo gallery/portfolio of your work, embedded videos from YouTube or Vimeo, a landing page summarizing your services or product – or a combination of all of these things and more! The best part is that none of this is set in stone; you can keep modifying as you go and as your company grows or changes.

P.S. from Kyle: You can see Casey's website at www.intentionallygoodlife.com

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