If you don’t have a website for your studio, this is the week you’re going to create one.
The reason I’m asking this of you, no matter where you live, is that everyone needs a homebase in our digital age. It’s part of being a professional and taking yourself seriously.
I know you might not consider yourself technical, but I promise you can do this.
Personally, I recommend you set up your website using WordPress with Siteground as your host. The tutorial below will help you do that.
I encourage you to give WordPress a go even if it seems a little daunting at first. The steep uphill climb only lasts for a short time and you will soon get used to the system and how things work.
If you prefer to use a different website builder or if you already have a website using a different platform that’s totally OK. We can work with what you have – just make sure you have something before you continue.
Let’s face it: You’re probably not going to hire a designer to put together a full style guide and brand concept for your studio. You might be able to hire out certain aspects as they come up, but you’re probably stuck with yourself as the (amateur) lead designer.
Here’s the most important rule to digest in this new role: Simple is always better.
A pro might be able to use 50 different fonts and 7 colours on one poster and make it look slick, modern and beautiful. You can’t. And even if you could, figuring out that balance is not the best use of your precious time.
The best thing you can do as an amateur lead designer for your studio is to pick a simple colour palette and two fonts (one main body font that is super readable and one heading font that can be a little more decorative) and then stick to it.
Simplicity and consistency go hand in hand.
Coolors and Color Hunt are both good websites for exploring colour palettes. Give yourself a limited time to browse through before making a decision (don’t get sucked into a void for 3 hours!) and pay attention to how each colour palette makes you feel and how this relates to your unique superpower.
When it comes to fonts, I feel I need to restate our rule: Simple is always better. Having too much fun with fonts is one of the most common mistakes I see on small business websites, so please:
Yes, sometimes cursive fonts look lovely but they need a lot of time and care or they will be an unreadable and annoying mess.
To explore font options that work well on screen I suggest going to Google Fonts. You can look at the common pairings at the bottom of each font page for ideas on heading/body combinations.
Once you’ve decided on your colours and fonts write them down somewhere where it’s easy to refer back to them. (Use hex codes for the colours so that they’re exactly the same every time.) A Google Doc, Evernote or some other cross-device app is best so that you can refer to them any time, any place and truly be consistent.
One of the most challenging parts of being the lead designer, chief copywriter, CEO and office admin of your business is that you can go a bit cross-eyed looking at a particular website page and not have anyone else to pass it off to.
When you’re working on a webpage for the first time or doing a major revamp, use this “3 glance” system as your quality control process once you think you might be done:
After this 3 glance system is complete, mark a date in your diary 6 months from now to revisit this page and don’t touch it until then!
The task for this lesson is simple but it might be substantial depending on how much time you have invested in your online presence up to this point.
1. Take the time to create or update your website before you continue to the next lesson.
2. Share a link to your website in the community.
3. Look through at least 2 other websites from other members and comment generously with your first impressions and what you think their superpower might be.
If you do want to look into premium theme options two good sources are Theme Forest and Studiopress. Consider this a more advanced step and only upgrade to a premium theme after you’ve had your site for at least a year or more.
If you want to dive deeper into the idea of branding then this short clip is a great (high level!) discussion of what it truly means.
While I’ve cautioned you not to spend too long on becoming a design guru, some of you may be interested to learn a little more. This post from Canva is a good basic set of rules to follow and start to investigate further.