The Biz Vision
Oh, yes, we’ll get to design, but first we have to know what to design. Even if you are building a house, picking out a pattern for a dress, or getting started on a blank painter’s canvas, there’s got to be a design vision. In my case, it’s my business vision. You got one? What, no time? If you don’t build your business vision/plan, you’ll spin your wheels and waste two or three or ten times more time running into dead ends in your design plan for your website, logo, business name, etc.
Here’s a cool one-page (!so easy!) vision template (click here to download the Word file). I tweaked it from a business plan template I found online. Just get wild and fill in the second column. Then you can bring that with you to talk to your site designer.
The Site Vision
Here’s another case from my own journey: getting stuck on a certain symbolism. I love those galaxies and stars and nebulae all over the universe. So at first I figured I would make space be the symbolic theme for all of my business pieces. Well, it’s always worked for my Tarot facet, as well as supporting my soul mentoring concepts. But with the more practical facet of website design, I ran out of steam on the stars thing. The whole biz is kinda geeky, and wispy space clouds didn’t fit as well.
Then a friend of mine (that lovely Jean Hamilton-Fford I talked about in the last post), suggested I get down to Earth for once (the Earth is, in fact, part of the universe). I should brand this biz based on the lovely location I live in (rural southwestern Oregon), she said. We came up with the idea of the field and its mellow, welcoming qualities. Lots of great image opportunities right here, so that’s how I ended up with my branding for this site.
Now the Theme and Colors and Such
OK, now that we know what your vision and your brand symbolism are, we can talk about how to visualize that on a website. Your site is really the equivalent of the signage, yellow pages listing, and business card and brochure for an old-fashioned brick-and-mortar store back in the days before the Worldwide Web.
We talk colors now, based on a logo you already have or on some thematic color-combo that you think speaks to your business identity. I can extract colors easily from any image you want to use as a background or logo so everything hangs together visually.
We can also talk about a layout (theme) that best displays who you are and what your products and services are. We also want to organize the pieces of your site so visitors coming in with a question or need can see right away where they want to go and how to connect with you. Most people don’t need pages and pages of website; simpler is almost always better. You’ll take your visitor on a little trip through your business world, as if you were in a physical store showing them around. The best site designs replicate that experience to match your business personality.
The rest of the stuff in the background of a site gets geeky with added features (only those you really need) called plugins. Also, we have to keep track of basics like how visible the site is on the Web, security, and backups. You can always do as much or as little of that as you like. I like to be flexible and either provide tutorials for those who want to do everything themselves, or offer a Design Buddy program if they don’t want to deal with maintenance. Either way, it keeps that lovely design functional so your website can be an asset and not a hassle.
Remember, to do design the right way round means getting clear on the substance of what you want to do and be, and then on the symbolism that says who you are. Then you can translate that into a visual design.