7 Things to Prepare for an Amazing Squarespace Website
So, you’ve decided you’re going to build a Squarespace website? That’s awesome! You might think the next steps is to load Squarespace and start playing around, but I want to stop you right there!
There’s a better way to get started, one that will help you attract your dream clients and convert them into buyers, so let’s do some preparation first!
Working through these 7 steps will create a solid foundation for your website, save you time when it comes to designing your website, help your dream clients find you in Google, and better still, will guide your dream clients through your website in a way they want to buy from you!
All before you even load Squarespace!
Let’s get started!
Step 1 – Your Dream Client
Knowing who your dream client is will help you design a website that appeals to that person. Even better, knowing your ideal client will help guide you in all of your business decisions, since you know who you are trying to help and what they struggle with so you can tailor everything you do to them. Think how much easier this will make your marketing!
This step is often overlooked when designing a website, but by taking the time to complete this step, your website will be much more effective at attracting your dream clients and getting them to take action!
So, think about your dream client. Who are they?
Some details to consider:
Relationship and family status
Occupation and income
Challenges they face
Hobbies and Interests
Favorite websites, blogs and podcasts
Favorite magazines and books
Who they follow online and why
Where they hang out on social media
What they struggle with regarding the work you do
What transformation they want from the service you offer
If you don’t know the answer to these questions, now is a good time to reach out to your ideal clients to ask. Create a general outline of who they are and what they do, then send an email to your list, or jump in some of your Facebook groups and mention that you want to chat with these people.
Once you have some calls lined up, ask some questions to understand their needs, such as what their biggest struggles are around what you offer, what they look for when hiring someone to help them, what they want out of the service you provide, and where they hang out online.
This doesn’t need to take long as all and will help you with the rest of these steps along with designing your website!
Step 2 – Gathering Inspiration
Now you know who you want to attract, you can start gathering some website inspiration and creating a mood board that will match the vision you are going for. Just remember, you are going for a style and look that appeals to your dream client, not necessarily what you would choose.
Create a Mood Board
A great place to start is with a secret Pinterest board. Pick a few keywords that describe the look and feel you are going for and search them, pinning the images that call out to you. You want to consider a combination of at least 15 images, colors, fonts and patterns that that flow well together and reflect your dream client.
Now you have a collection of images, you can narrow things down by unpinning anything that doesn’t flow well with the rest. For example, if you have mostly blue images, and one orange image, the orange one likely isn’t a good fit.
You want to aim for 10 images that you think 100% fit your brand vision, which you can then combine together in a tool such as Canva to make a mood board for your website. Canva is a free design program that will help you create graphics. Just search “mood board” to find a template you like, then add your images and save it so you have it on hand for your design decisions.
Other Style Elements
Now you have a mood board, you want to think about the other style elements you will use – things like your logo, brand colors and fonts, and any textures, patterns or graphics you want to use. Again, these should be consistent and flow together, while matching the mood board you created since it is your inspiration piece.
To choose your website colors, you can use a website like Coolors to upload your mood board, and it will select colors from the image, which you can adjust until you come up with the perfect combination.
Next, you want to play around with different font combinations for your headings, subheadings and body text. The fonts you choose should be easy to read, and look great together. It is best to aim for 2 different fonts that you can use, and potentially add a display font to emphasis certain words.
Graphic elements, textures and patterns give you the extra fun details on your website. You can find lots of beautiful and affordable options somewhere like Creative Market by searching these terms, and pick ones that match your mood board and the colors you selected. You can use these as backgrounds or to add fun little designs like icons or buttons.
Once you’ve decided on the fonts and colors for your website, make sure you save the font names and color codes in a document in the same place you will keep the rest of your website files. Having this handy when you design your website will make sure everything is consistent and goes together well.
If you have worked with a graphic designer for branding before, you will likely already have a mood board and style guide, so you’ll be able to skip this step. Alternatively, if you want someone to help bring your brand vision to life for you, I can help you with a branding package, just reach out here and we can chat.
Website Features you Like
One last thing you want to look for while gathering inspiration is website specific design features like layout ideas, blog side bar set up, parallax scrolling or any other website features you love. This could come from anywhere, so don’t feel like you need to stick with websites in your industry! Take some screenshots and name the file to remind of the feature you like so you don’t forget!
Step 3 – Your Website Plan
Your website will be much more effective if you know what you need it to do and have a plan for how to do it.
Information to Include
First, you want to get clear on what information you need to include. Some ideas of what your website may need include:
Your business address
Your open hours
Special features of your business
Examples of your past work
Your contact details
What services you offer
An about page
Think about questions you get asked often - chances are, they’re the type of thing you should include! Make sure you actually write these down so you don’t forget them as you continue through the next steps!
Here’s an example – A wedding photographer would need to include the below ideas but may have other specific details they want to also include:
A gallery of past work for brides to see if the photography style matches what they love
Details about the packages they sell and pricing so that the bride will know if it’s within budget and meets her needs
What location they work in, or if they can travel to where the bride wants to hold the wedding
Some details about the photographer so the bride knows if they will likely work well together
Feedback from past brides to help build trust for the bride
Contact details for potential clients to be able to get in touch and book
A FAQ section with any specific details that the bride may want to know, such as how long it will take for them to be able to see the images and what format they are sent in
Once you know what info you need to include, you want to think about your website goals – the 1-2 actions you want someone to take when they land on your website. Examples could be visit your shop, sign up for your newsletter, schedule an appointment or book your service. It is best to stick with only 1-2 goals to prevent confusion for your visitors and make them more likely to do what you want them to.
Everything you do on your website should be done with these goals in mind!
Arranging your Content
Next, you want to think about how you will arrange your content to make it easy for your visitor to locate the info they need. If your viewer can’t easily find what they are after, they will leave pretty quickly!
To make things as easy as possible for your viewer, only keep the most vital information in the top navigation, with a maximum of 5-6 links only. You can remove “Home” from your top navigation, since clicking your logo will take you back there anyway. And don’t forget to keep these titles short and direct to prevent confusion! Check out this post on how to create the perfect website navigation.
The top navigation items should guide your visitor through your website from your home page to your money making page. You want to make it as easy as possible for your visitor to get there without them getting overwhelmed, so think about the logical steps they need to take to purchase from you.
Let’s think of our wedding photographer’s website... If you are looking for a wedding photographer, you will likely:
Check out their portfolio first since you want to know they take amazing photos that you love
You’ll probably want to know a bit more about your photographer and what they are like to work with, so you’ll check out their about page and testimonials
Then, of course, the questions of “what are their packages and can I afford them?” are going to pop up, so you’ll go to their services pages
After you have gone through these pages, if you want to work with them, you will then reach out to contact them so you can lock in your dream wedding date
It makes sense for these options to be front and center in your navigation. As mentioned before, the wedding photographer is likely to want other website pages there as well, such as an FAQ section, but they’re less important to the decision making process, so it can be linked in the website footer or from other pages.
Next, grab a pen, paper and some post it notes and list each page that you want to include on your website on it’s own post it note. If you have any vital details to include on the page, such as an address, feel free to list this on the post it too. Once you have all your pages listed, decide on your important pages and start moving them around on your page until the flow makes sense to guide your viewer though your website. This will become your navigation. The remaining less important pages can be left below to link in your footer or other sections of your website.
Bringing your Website Plan Together
Once you have arranged your pages, you want to think about what call to action each page should have. Each page of your website should be a call to action button at the bottom to help guide your visitor to the next section of your website, so now is the time to plan them out.
Once you complete the step, you will have a solid plan for your website so that you can make it work hard for your business goals, so great work!
Step 4 – SEO Preparation
When someone does a Google search, Google wants to show the most relevant result to the viewer so they get the information they need as easily as possible. This is where SEO comes in.
SEO is a term you may have heard floating around before. It stands for “Search Engine Optimization”, and it basically refers to how easy it is for a search engine like Google to find your website when someone is searching for what you do. I have a series of posts on SEO here if you want to learn more.
To help Google and other search engines find your website and display it in search result, you want to think about what sort of terms your ideal client is searching to find your website. These terms are called keywords, and it is a good idea to research these before you start writing content for your website.
You want to think about the main terms your ideal client will search to find you – generally it will be a string of 3-4 words. From there, you want to look up other similar terms they may search so you can also include those keywords throughout. You can use a tool such as Keyword Tool or by completing a Google search yourself and looking at the related search results at the bottom of the page.
When finding keywords, you want to start with about 10 different strings of keywords that you can use throughout your content. The best ones will have a higher search volume and lower competition where possible, as these will give you a better chance of showing in Google searches sooner. Over time as your website starts to show for these keywords, you can add more.
Once you have your list of keywords, you want to have it on hand when you are writing your website content so that you can use the keywords throughout your content. This will make it easier for Google to know what your website is about.
Just a note: SEO is an ongoing process. Google is always changing the way it searches the internet and your website will change over time as well. This process will help you start your website out on the right foot, but there are many other factors to SEO that I go through in other posts.
Step 5 – Prepare your Website Copy
Now that you have a plan for your website and know what keywords you would like your website to show for, it’s time to get started with writing the words for your website. This is known as your website copy.
It can be hard to know what to say on your website and where to include the information. I completely get it, since I had this same struggle! And it’s not always in the budget to hire a copywriter either. To top it off, the words on your website are just as important as the design of your website, so it can be a little scary!
No need to stress though, I have some tips to make the process easier for you, because really, none of us want to spend months agonizing over what to write!
First up, some general tips to get your started with writing website copy:
Prepare your content up front. This will save you time when you are designing your website, and will help ensure everything flows together well
Keep your ideal client in mind while you are writing your content. Use the words they use, talk about their pain points and let them know you can solve their issue. Speak to your ideal client directly in your writing and keep a list of phrases and words they use to refer back to if you feel you have lost your voice
Use simple, clear language so your content is easy to understand by someone who is not familiar with what you do. Chances are, if they want to work with you, they are not an expert at what you do and won’t understand your industry terminology. If you’re not sure if it’s clear, have someone else who’s outside of your industry read it over. They’ll tell you pretty quickly if it makes sense or if it’s too technical!
Proof read, proof ready, proof read! Bad spelling and grammar can be a trust killer! Also have at least 1-2 other people proof read to make sure you haven’t missed anything
Keep things short and to the point. We’re all rushed these days and tend to skim read everything, so make sure you cut out any fluff. Also formatting is your friend on your website! Include headings, bullet points or numbered lists, bold or italic text and break your text into sections so it’s super easy to read
You want to sprinkle your SEO keywords throughout the text on your website. No need to overdo it, just include them where it makes sense to a reader. Using them in headings where appropriate is also a great way to show Google what your website is about
Writing copy for the main pages of your website:
Home Page: You’re homepage gives and overview of your entire website and helps build trust and direct visitors where they need to go, so it can be easiest to write this after you have finished the other pages on your website.
You want to start with a killer tagline that makes it super clear what you do, who you help and how you help them. This post will give you tips on how to write a great tagline for your website that will help you catch the attention of your ideal clients.
Your home page should also include an outline of your services, some testimonials to build trust with your visitors, a mini bio of who you are and links to any content you share, such as recent blog posts of videos. You can find more tips to make your website homepage stand out here.
About Page: This is the perfect place to let your personality and passion for what you do shine! This page will help you build a connection with your idea client, just keep in mind that the page isn’t just about you, it’s about how you can help your ideal client to solve their problem.
It is a good idea to start the page stating who you help, what you help them with and how you can relate to their issue, to build trust and reinforce that they are in the right place. From there, you can introduce yourself and share a few interesting facts about you, just don’t go overboard! Don’t forget to include a story about how you started out and how you can help your ideal client move forward with the issues they are struggling with, so they’ll know you’re the right person to help them!
Services Page: Your service page is there to make your ideal client feel like you are the only option for them to work with, and should encourage them to take the next steps in hiring you. This page is often the longest page on your website, so don’t forget to use the formatting suggestions above so it’s easy to read!
Where a lot of people go wrong with a services page is that they only make it about the deliverables the person will receive. This way of approaching things can be pretty boring, and likely won’t connect emotionally with what your ideal client, so it could cause you to miss out on sales.
Instead, you want to talk about the pain point they are experiencing at the top of the page, and compare it to how they will feel after working with you to solve their issue. This will help you connect with your ideal client emotionally, and emotion drives purchases.
After you’ve gone through the pain points and the transformation they will have, you can go into your packages. To encourage people to take action, it is a good idea to include prices (or at least a starting from price), and don’t forget your call to action for each one!
Other things you could include on a services page include a section about the process of working with you, some testimonials, a mini bio about you to help build a connection with your ideal client, and an FAQ section if you find you are asked the same questions over and over. And the biggest one that is often forgotten... Calls to action that direct your ideal clients to the next stage of working with you!
Contact Page: This page will give your visitors a way to connect with you further if they have more questions. It is a great place to include your business address and a map if you have a physical location, your email address, your phone number, your hours of operation and links to your social media accounts so they can find you online in other ways. You also want to set some expectations around responding to enquiries, such as types of enquiries you won’t respond to or the timeframe for a response.
When you add the contact form, you want to keep it short and to the point, but still make sure you are covering the questions you need to respond, since this will save you time emailing back and forth to work it out.
If you notice you get the same types of questions coming through your contact form a lot, this could be also be a great place to add another FAQ section to address questions outside of your packages. Some examples could be whether you will feature someone as a guest blog post, or whether you will be on someone’s podcast.
Error Page: If your visitor lands on a broken link on you website, you don’t want them to jump ship and head elsewhere! Instead, adding a custom error page can help keep them around longer by helping them find what they are after. This post talks about why you should have a custom error page, some tips for creating one, and how to set it up in Squarespace.
Additional Pages: Depending on what you do, you will likely have other pages you want to include on your website as well. Examples could be a portfolio page, a resource page of the tools and products you love, a featured page to highlight where you have been featured, an events calendar if you host events, or a blog.
Step 6 – Prepare your Photos and Videos
Now you have written the copy for your website, it’s time to think about the photos and videos you want to use!
Photos and video are a great way to help communicate what you do and build connection with your ideal client, so you want to make sure you give some thought about what you use. This post will give you ideas on selecting the right photos for your website.
Once you have gathered the photos and videos you want to use on your website, you need to optimize them for use on your website. Here are a few of the steps you should take:
Resize your photos to be 500kb or less. This can be done through websites like TinyPNG or JPEGMini. If you are saving banner images that will go the full width of the page, you want to make sure they are 1800-2500 pixels wide, and other images should be around 1500 pixels wide
Rename your photos with what is in the image so Google can “see” it. If you can include one of your SEO keywords in a way that makes sense, then this is a perfect time to do it!
Save your optimized photos together in one place so you don’t have to search for them when it comes time to add them to your website
Upload your videos to a service such as YouTube or Vimeo and save the links so they are ready to go
Step 7 – Gather any last details
Most of your content has been prepared in the last 2 steps, but there are a couple of other things you want to make sure you have on hand so that everything comes together smoothly at the time of designing your website.
Don’t forget to save the below files with the rest of your content:
You’re branding files, such as your logo, favicon, color codes and fonts
Your email opt in freebie and email marketing log in details
Having this information on hand will help the design process run smoothly and be much more enjoyable since you’re not scrambling to find anything last minute.
There you have it... The 7 steps you should follow before you even load Squarespace so you are completely prepared when it comes time to design your website!
Looking for someone to help you further with preparing for your website? When we work together, I will guide you through the process of preparing your content, and take care of the SEO and image optimization so you don’t have to!