If you’re just dipping your toe in the water and getting your business off the ground, chances are you don’t need to spend an arm and a leg on a professional website design out of the gate (we’re totally happy to take your cash, but custom design is hard on a startup budget).
If you’re going to spend some yet-to-be-earned-cash on something professional, in our humble opinion, it should be: a logo design, a business card, and a quality domain name. The rest can pay for itself as you start to earn some cash. Once you have a few clients and your feet firmly planted on the ground, that’s when it’s time to start looking for a professional design, and maybe even some help to spend an advertising budget smartly in order to grow your client base.
But, until then, we’ve created a roundup of the elements you need for an interior design website, that you can use to start creating your own free page via a service like Wix or Squarespace (or use as a guideline to hire us – shameless self promotion – or someone like us to create you a custom design).
The Website Design Breakdown
The section below outlines the pages/sections you’ll need, what you should find inside of them and the best practices to lay them out.
Before you get too deeply in, with both time and effort, you have two choices you can make for your interior design website. The first is what we call a website brochure, and the second is a standard run of the mill website.
One Page Website
A Website Brochure (Or a 1-Page Website) is a quick and easy way to get started if you don’t have a lot of cash, time or content to use. Basically, it’s one page, divided into beautiful, full screen sections. It’s easy to understand and navigate for visitors and it doesn’t require as much work as laying out 3-5 individual pages. There are tons of page builder templates out there for these kinds of sites. You still get a navigation bar as well – it just jumps to that section of your page instead of a new one. In short, we’re superfans of the brochure website for start-ups.
This is your run of the mill website. There’s a homepage and an about page and all the other pages you can imagine. These sites are a lot more work as far as layout, maintenance and design, but they do look a little more full and robust. We’re also a fan of these sites, but really do prefer the one-page approach for start-ups.
Whichever you choose, the sections/pages you’ll need are as follows.
Your homepage should start with one line about what you do. If you create modern spaces, say that. If you create boho inspired bedrooms, say that. Whatever it is you do – tell them in the first couple of sections – a beautiful image helps as well.
You’ll want an introduction on the homepage somewhere, a few lines of copy will do, but something that both search engines and your audience can read.
Keep your portfolio near the top – this is your selling feature, so keep it upfront and center.
You don’t need to show all of your projects on the homepage, a row on your page with 3 images and a link to view the entire portfolio is more than enough.
If you have testimonials, a token one on the homepage is a great idea. You can always link to the rest.
At the bottom of the page, make sure you direct them to arrange a free consultation, get in touch, schedule an appointment or whatever else you need them to do. This is called a Call to Action (CTA) and should be found after most blocks of information you provide.
You’re about page should talk about you, your business and what you bring to the table.
Did you know: About pages featuring staff photos receive on average 20% more click throughs (calls, emails or schedules) than pages without?
A lot of people struggle with adding their face to their business page, but it allows people to connect on a more personal level, which allows them to feel more comfortable in making the first move. Besides, it’ll give you a professional looking photo to add to your LinkedIn as well.
You should also have a prominent call to action after your introduction.
This is a fine place to put some testimonials about working with you, or some photos of your work. It’s also a fine place to feed in your Instagram account or Facebook to show fresh photos of your work.
Your portfolio page is your bread and butter. Some templates won’t offer an easy way to put in your photo gallery or arrange it the way you need to. If that’s the case, you really do need to suss out a more photo driven template since this is really where your focus needs to be.
If you don’t have a lot of projects out of the gate, it’s generally recommended to show them as just a gallery as opposed to sorting them by project, but feel free to layout your portfolio in a way that makes the most sense for you and your process.
Make sure that you’re resizing your images as well. If you’re taking them on your phone, there’s a good chance they’re 1MB or more. That means that when people access your portfolio it will be slow to load and chew up their data, especially on mobile devices. To avoid that make sure that your images are a maximum of 2000px wide (absolute max, 1500 is more than fine) and less than 500kb (size).
There are tons of apps you can get on your phone and tons of free tools for the computer that will let you color correct and size your images before you upload. Don’t skip this step if you want to look professional.
In the end however, the most important thing is to make sure that it’s easy to update and becomes part of your weekly routine.
Service pages are optional. You can add your services to your homepage, organize your portfolio to show them off, or add them to the about page (two sections featuring the designer and the firm always looks nice). However, you decide to do it, a services section is never a bad idea. It stops your potential customers from wondering if you offer the service they’re looking for, and if you have prices you want to list (like the price of a consultation for example) you can do that in this area.
If you’re breaking this down into a large page or section – there’s never any harm in featuring a few images to boot!
Don’t forget to include your call to action at the bottom of your page, you’ll want to make sure to prompt them to get in touch if they’re on this page/section!
The last page of your site and the most important. You’ll want to make sure that your contact information is prominent on every page. Be-it in the header or footer, it should be somewhere that makes it easy for customers to contact you directly. That allows them to ask questions and encourages communication.
Even though you’re going to have a way to get in touch on every page, it’s still important to have a contact page available.
This is the page that is often overlooked and sloppy, but this is truly the page you should focus your effort and testing on the most. This is the only remaining page standing between you and a potential sale, so it’s important to make sure it’s:
- Easy to use
- Working Properly
There’s a fine line on a contact page between too many questions and not enough. You don’t need first and last name from a contact at this point, first is fine. You’ll want to get their email or phone (maybe ask their preference) and you’ll also want to ask how they found you. Beyond that a simple message box and you’re good to go.
You’ll also want to promote whatever you can to push them into contacting you, so if you offer a free consultation, say that. If you’re happy to discuss their design goals for free, say that – whatever it is they can get that will take the pressure off; say it here.
You’ll also want to relist your contact information – addresses aren’t necessary unless you have a shop for them to come into.
You can also add in your social links again and even some feeds if you’re feeling particularly fancy.
Once you have your basic site built, you’ll want to do what we call a Pre-Launch Checklist before you show it off to the world. Even better, have a few friends test it out as well, ask them if it was easy to use, if there’s a place it was confusing or hard to go through. Have them check it on TV’s and their Phones, Tablets, Computers – everything.
You can download our free Pre-Launch Checklist here.
Build Well, Our DIY Friends…
Hopefully this helps a little in getting you online on a budget. As always if you have questions, or are ready to hand it over to someone else, we’re here to help as much or as little as you need. We offer one off consultations, web design and development services, or just a friendly ear if you need something small (maybe we’ll end up blogging about it). However it happens, happy building and if you share your new site with us, we’ll happily showcase you across all our social platforms (no purchase necessary!)