How to make your own web design for wedding professionals
Since 2014 we’ve worked for a number of events and catering businesses generally as well as within the wedding industry, including branding, design for print and web design. In this article, I’m going to go through the steps to take in designing or redesigning a website so that you can do it yourself, or at least you’ll have a better base to start from.
During this post, I’m going to go over quite a lot and this is meant to be quite broad and introductory to all the different areas of web design. You might not need all aspects, but you can pick and choose what parts are helpful to you or your business. You should also bookmark this page to come back to later.
Just a note: It’s quite important to realise what you can do yourself and what’s best to hire out to others. For instance, I’ve used John Steel for a personal branding photoshoot to give us photos for this website and to use on social media posts so that there’s a bit more personality in the overall brand. If I took these myself I know I wouldn’t get the feeling I needed. So you might feel like you can handle 90% of what I’m talking about yourself, but be realistic with what you’re better outsourcing to professionals. Some aspects might seem over the top for you, but this is why people charge thousands for website design and research these days. If you follow most of these techniques you can get great results in the long term on your own.
With that said, let’s get into it.
A website – to have or not to have?
Chances are you’ll have a website already. Whether it’s a free option like Wix or WebFlow, or you’ve paid for a domain name and hosting and then built the site yourself, or paid someone to do it for you. Having looked at the Wedding Fayres Yorkshire website and the supplier’s directory, there are many wedding professionals who have a domain but don’t have anything hosted on it. Even if you don’t have a website; your domain always needs to redirect to your social media page at the very least so that you don’t lose potential customers. Leaving people lost is never an option.
If you want to do this you need to log in to wherever you paid for your domain name and change your DNS settings. It might be called redirect or it might be shown as forwarding, it depends on your provider. If you aren’t sure what the difference is between a domain and hosting, I like to think of a domain as your post box, where hosting is the actual building. So the bigger your hosting size, the more rooms and facilities you have in the house.
Getting started if you don’t have a domain and hosting
There are thousands of options for getting online if you don’t already have a website. You can go for the free route with providers such as Wix, Square Space or WebFlow. These are good options if you’re very new in business and don’t have enough money to invest in a website to get started.
But much like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, you’re at the whim of the provider and any changes they make to the service. It’s pretty much always advisable to take control of your website by getting a paid domain name and hosting.
If you haven’t sorted this yet I’d recommend a cheap domain name provider like GoDaddy.co.uk or 123-reg.co.uk, but when it comes to your hosting, the cheapest option can leave you with a slow website that users will leave before it even loads. I personally recommend SiteGround, they’re consistently ranked highly in user tests and include all the aspects you’ll need such as SSL certificates.
Design Vs SEO
Now, when it comes to your website, a designer will try to sell you fresh design, a copywriter will try to sell you content and an SEO specialist will try to sell you optimization. So what’s most important? The truth is that without all of them in place you’ll miss out on maximising your profits. There will usually be a bit of backwards and forwards motion between all of these aspects to get the most out of your website so be prepared to move between them. For instance, you may start with your design style, then move on to keyword analysis to understand what needs to fill your website before fleshing out the content. But you will likely have to go between these stages multiple times to maximise your results. E.g. once you’ve written your content you may need to tweak it based on your SEO analysis, or your design may need work from a technical viewpoint.
Background research or discovery
It’s important to build a website for an actual user, not for yourself. But, when you’re designing your own website it’s easy to get bogged down in your own personal preferences, thinking about what information you want to talk about, rather than catering it to the right audience. In England, we can also get shy about bragging about ourselves which is always a problem!
Looking at SemRush.com, the number of viewers of Wedding Fayres Yorkshire is split 50/50 between male and female. But other wedding websites like myweddingsuppliers.co.uk, Hitched.co.uk and weddingwire.co.uk all show a 2 thirds majority viewership of females.
Stereotype alert… but…
More often than not, in a male/female couple, the woman is the one who takes most ownership of the day, picking out the wedding professional she wants. BUT, you might have potential users that your current website doesn’t cater for. Weddings span all kinds of ethnicities, cultures and sexual orientations, but you’ll notice that few suppliers show they cater for these audiences on their website. If a gay couple looks on your website, will they feel that you aren’t for them?
If an Asian or a black woman comes onto your website will she only see white couples, stopping them from being able to see themselves using your service? As a user, we go for options that make us feel like we can see ourselves in the picture.
If you think of the various users who could want your services, putting a face and a name to them, you can work out how you can be more appealing to all of them without sacrificing your core audience. Sometimes it only takes a little extra detail, or an extra page or blog post. Look back at your clients of the past, think of the best client you’ve ever worked with, and base your user on them. You want to appeal to your ideal client more than your most common. Think about their budget, their aspirations, hobbies and their career. It’s usually best to make a few of these profiles so you can test your website against it as you go.
When you’ve got your users planned out; it’s much easier to decide what pages you’ll need on your website by working out what content is most appealing to them and what you can offer if that wasn’t what they needed, or you want to upsell depending on the user.
For the majority of cases, a person’s wedding is the first experience they’ll have in planning a wedding, so your job is to make finding answers to every question they have as easy as possible. This includes navigating to the areas they need. Show them as easily as possible where to find your services or packages, how to find frequently asked questions, photos of previous weddings and contact information.
There isn’t a right or wrong answer to your individual page structure. You might only need one page that quickly entices your audience to call or email you to talk through options, or it may be that you need over 100 pages to really show off everything you do. The key is making sure everything ties together and the user never feels lost. A user on your website is looking for a service, if they leave your page (you might have seen this referred to as bounce rate) it’s because you didn’t show them that you can cater to them quickly or simply enough.
As an example, this website at the moment has over 70 pages and 40,000 words, but on the face of it, the structure is pretty clean and simple, guiding people to a destination we prefer, e.g. branding, logo design or web design. There are a lot more pages aimed at keeping the user on-site if they haven’t found what they need. This also helps Google with much more specific searches such as “Logo design in Huddersfield”. It’s worth noting time is always important, as Google will usually take 6 months to even care about your existence and push you higher up the rankings.
Now for the Design
The design of your website is how it looks, but it’s also how we navigate each page and the placement of images in relation to text and buttons.
Before you invest too much in what your website will look like as a finished site, you need to know what will go where on each page. Make the images and text fit your user profile and content plan, never make the images and text fit to whatever design you feel like using. This is how you can quickly make a website that looks pretty but doesn’t create as many leads or sales as you need or deserve. With this in mind, you will want to create a layout style that shows you what content will go where on each page and how they will link to each other.
You can do this on paper if you find that easiest, but it’s as simple as drawing out blocks on the page and saying what they are. You might start out your page with the page title, this should be represented as a block. If you follow that with a text area and a button, each should be blocked out. It’ll help you visualise what the page will look like without investing much time into it or trying to fit a specific design. You’ll feel better about getting rid of sections and replacing them if they don’t make sense.
Imagine redesigning a wedding cake business website. You’ve worked out what pages you need, your target customer is a pretty well off woman who wants only the best centrepiece cake for her big day. As soon as she gets on your website she needs to see the most beautiful cake you’ve ever made against an amazing backdrop. You don’t want a scrolling header that looks fancy but then shows her your second-best work or third best against some okay backgrounds. These sliders act as distractions instead of enhancing the experience.
A picture speaks a thousand words so get it in early and show them what you can do.
If you can get access to a photo from the wedding days themselves, taken by a professional photographer, it’s infinitely better than one you’ve taken yourself on your phone. These photos are out there so you should be able to get some, you’ll probably need to give attribution links to the photographer and ask permission from the couple as well, but with a little work, this will enhance your visual appeal 10x.
The user then needs to be given a choice. Do they want to look at some more cakes or information about your packages, or do they want to dive right in and contact you? You need to think about what your user wants and cater to it now, while it’s easy. This isn’t a quick task if you have lots going on, sometimes I might only need to do this for 8 pages, sometimes it can be 40 or more unique pages to make up the user experience.
But remember, if it’s not worth thinking about like this, chances are it’s not worth its own page. If you come across this problem where one of the pages doesn’t have enough going on to warrant its own page then think about merging it with another page.
One important aspect when it comes to your page design is to always think about linking between pages, such as links to your contact page, or complementary services that make sense with your text. You may have seen this in action within this post. Writing a helpful guide is a perfect place to link back to your services or even others within your network.
An example here would be to link your content to wedding planning services from individual decoration pages or add a link to add ons such as cakesicles from your main wedding cake page. In effect up-selling to a more lucrative service from smaller items or adding smaller items to create a bigger overall package.
Now in terms of the actual design of your pages, if you’re a professional business, your website needs to look professional as soon as a user lands on the page. Within seconds they’ve made a judgement about your site, deciding whether or not they want to continue, and 94% of people will judge your company based on the first impression they get from your website’s design.
This is why so many people still pay for web design even though there are free options.
Most of these options will let you choose from a template design to make things easier. Including page builders that take the coding out of it altogether. Take a look at wedding trends that fit your user, but more importantly go with a design that suits your brand. If you don’t have a set brand style then it’s important to get this sorted before you get into the design of your website. Creating a presence that sets you apart is important, not just a pretty logo.
If you’re ready to take on the design yourself, most templates will give you sizes for areas that you’ll need images for. Luckily there are plenty of resources online to help make your design yourself.
Now for photos, I really recommend you use your own photos throughout your site, or from weddings you’ve supplied for where photographers were taking shots. It adds more authenticity and shows people what they’re really getting (we’re planning a further shoot with clients to enhance our own).
Trust goes a long way. I know it’s not always possible for every aspect of your site so there are low cost and even free websites you can get images from such as 123rf, Shutterstock, Unsplash and Pexels. The price you pay for membership will define how many photos you get access to or the rights of each. On the free ones, you might need to attribute the creator in your links.
Although you can get designed photos and illustrations on the previous sites, to make it more unique to your business there are online photo editors that’ll allow you to add text or images so you can add a branded feel to your images or edit them completely. Canva / Stencil / Snappa / DesignBold are a few options for photo editors and design tools to use. Take a look at our Instagram account for a view of how Canva can be used to create consistent images using your own template and brand.
There’s a saying, “Content is King”, there’s a reason for this. Google loves content, the more well-written content you have, the more value Google thinks you’re giving your customers (hopefully you really are). The humble blog has been around for years now and people can sometimes think it’s outdated, but a blog is extremely easy to update on your website, that if paired with a good content plan, will see your website views skyrocket.
Google consistently ranks websites with more word counts per page highly. There are great websites with few words but it tends to favour those with a higher word count more. The key benefit of a heavy word count is that it allows you to get your keywords into the text without sounding robotic. Google loves text that is meant to be read by an actual person not just trying to spam your way to the top of search results. For instance, this post is nearly 4000 words and gives us plenty of space to add keywords such as “web” and “design” which appear over 60 times as well as links back to our services. You can do the same for your own wedding guides.
If you want to rank highly for “vintage wedding cakes in Huddersfield”, but your page only has 500 words on it, getting these words to show up in your text 10 times could sound forced and repetitive. If you have 2000 words on this page then you can show up these keywords multiple times spread out to sound complementary to the overall text. Google doesn’t need your text to all be written together, it will take words from various locations of the page and show them in the snippets needed. But be sure, you can’t fool Google, it is too powerful now! This is where planning your content comes in helpful, allowing you to create a guide to help you write for each page and how much to write for each section.
Remember that your images need text on them too, Google wants your images to show in searches too, so accurately describing images can give you a helping hand. Don’t just write an alt tag for a cake image that says “Image of wedding cake”, make it more descriptive such as, “photo of comic book style wedding cake for an alternative ceremony”. It’s also important to create a style of voice that suits your brand, keep this going throughout your website, your style of talking should remain consistent throughout.
Location – If you don’t have a Google business account set up, you need to do that right now. Register your business with a location, even if you don’t want the location to appear on the map because it’s your home etc. you can appear within a set boundary such as Huddersfield. Using a landline is also helpful for local search results.
Reviews – Off the back of your Google business account you can gain reviews on your search results in Google. The more high-quality reviews you have the better your chances of ranking highly. Alternate review sites are TrustPilot and Facebook pages, both of which will help you gain better search results.
Backlinks – If you don’t know about backlinks, they’re an important aspect of ranking highly on Google. Backlinks are links to your website, from other websites. The more well ranked the website linking back to you the better, this could mean that the website linking to you is older and so more trusted, or they have a large number of visitors. Backlinks can come in a number of forms, from directories such as Wedding Fayres Yorkshire, from links within collaborators websites or guest posts, from links within customers websites and blogs, or sites like Pinterest, where you can add more details such as a title and keywords to your image.
Video – Youtube is the second biggest search engine after Google, but since it’s owned by Google they love to show video results. The great thing about video content is that you can share it on social media for extra engagement, but you can also show them on your website for extra content, all the while the video link on YouTube adds extra links back to your website.
Keywords – As discussed keywords are vital to your website appearing when your customers need you. Some keyword tools you can use include Ubersuggest / Google Search Console / Answer The Public / Keywords Everywhere. These will allow you to find keywords that your competitors aren’t necessarily using but people are looking for. Now it’s time to make great content geared towards satisfying these viewers.
Page load times – The majority of people will leave your site before it loads if it takes over 4 seconds to load. But not only that, Google will actively rank your website lower if it ranks poorly for speed. Some examples of website speed tests are Pingdom Tools, Google’s own page speed insights and GTmetrix. Using all three will allow you to see what areas you can easily fix yourself within your website, or give you a better understanding of what you can take to a professional for tailored advice. If you use WordPress there are plugins that can help such as WP Rocket. however, if you use Siteground for hosting, they come with their own plugins included helping improve your page speed.
Mailing – If you haven’t already, sign up for a Sendinblue account, and integrate it with your website. This will depend on which platform you use, but a quick Google search will give you answers. You may have heard of Mailchimp, another mailing service that allows you to send newsletters and more to a database of email accounts. However, we find that Sendinblue gives a much better experience in their free plan and easily allows you to set up automation. Automation is great, for instance, you could ask viewers to signup for your newsletter to download your PDF guide, with Sendinblue you are able to automatically send this PDF to your new audience. You can also automate further emails to gently nudge them to take an action such as book a consultation. All without having to do the middle work.
Live chat – There are lots of options for this, such as WhatsApp or Facebook messenger. You can get both for free as well as many other options but these work well for most people as they will go straight through to your own phone and the user can continue the conversation through messenger once they leave the website. If you use WordPress there are free plugins you can use such as Social Chat, however as a catch all you can take a look at https://widgetwhats.com/ for Whatsapp.