Creating a new website is something which I can totally relate to after having relaunched Flowerona last year. And I really don’t know what I would have done without the amazing help of my workshop co-host, Fiona Humberstone! In this blog post, Fiona shares the five essential questions you must ask yourself before you commission a website for your floristry business. Over to you Fiona:
It really should be easy, shouldn’t it? Find a web designer, tell them what you want, launch an incredible website that wins you lots of business. Except that, in my experience, things rarely run that smoothly.
I’ve lost count of the disappointed, underwhelmed and often, embarrassed business owners I’ve met over the years who have invested good money and good faith in a website, only to discover that it just isn’t working for them. And whether you’re just starting out and working with a freelancer or template system, or you’re at the top of your game and plan to work with a top agency who will create a powerful website that’ll take your floristry business to the next level, a little preparation will go a long way.
The sad fact is that whilst a healthy budget usually means you’ll get quality, it doesn’t always. I recently met an entrepreneur who had spent a substantial four-figure sum on a site that simply wasn’t up to scratch. Not only was it not doing its job effectively, but several-thousand pounds down, he was understandably not in a position to be able to do anything about it. It was heart-breaking.
No one ever sets out to do a bad job, but as business owners, we have a responsibility to ensure that the people we choose to work with are right for our unique project. Not all web designers are created equal: some will be right for your business, others won’t; and unless you’re in the industry, it can be hard to spot which will be right for you.
Ahead of our Branding for Florists workshop I’ve put together some questions that you must ask yourself before you commission your next website. Take a little time out to prepare in advance and you’ll save yourself thousands of pounds and hours of heartache.
1. What do I need?
Let’s start with a little stock take of where you’re at right now. Do you have a comprehensive brand identity that you’re proud of? A logo, colour palette, set of patterns and typefaces that say the right things about your business?
If so, hurrah! I’d recommend you either go back to your graphic designer to create the visuals for your website; pick a template from a system like Squarespace, WordPress, Shopify, Wix or Create that fits with your brand and enables you to create something you can update yourself or you work with a design-led web designer to create something smart and powerful.
As a florist, you’re unlikely to have advanced technical requirements that would mean you’d prioritise web development over design, so you really do need to look closely at the portfolio of prospective partners to be sure you pick the right person. More on that later.
If you don’t have a comprehensive brand identity, consider starting with a brand stylist or graphic designer first to get the look and feel right. Web designers have a very different skillset to brand designers. They understand how information should be structured and how to make your website look fabulous.
2. How will my website be structured?
Planning ahead is an essential, and so often overlooked, part of creating a successful website. It doesn’t matter how much money you plan on spending on your next website, you must think about how your site should work commercially for you.
When I do this for clients I start by thinking about the commercial objectives of the site, I look at how others are doing it in the industry and I think about what it’s going to take to get people to take action. You should do exactly the same for your business. You can find more on how to create a website that sells in this post.
3. How should my website look and feel?
If you’ve already been through a robust branding process, you’ll have a clear idea of how your brand should look and feel. You’ll be able to see beyond your logo and have a vision for your shopfront and your delivery vans, right down to the detail of your tissue and ribbons or your business cards. How would you describe this, in say, 3 words?
This is a really important exercise, because if you know you’d like to come across as forward thinking, elegant and directional you can make sure that the portfolio of your prospective web designer reflects that style of design. It sounds obvious, but this is the biggest reason people are disappointed with their websites: they simply picked the wrong person to work with. And as a creative, you can probably relate to that.
If your floral style is pretty, whimsical and natural then you’re going to find it very difficult to please a bride looking for an edgy, bold and sculptured look for her wedding. You’d probably know that you are unlikely to win that project. And it’s exactly the same with websites. Pick the right person and you’ll find that everything that follows is fun, inspiring and enlightening. Pick someone out of loyalty, based on price alone or the fact that they are part of your breakfast networking group and you just can’t say no, and you’ll find that everything that follows is like wading through treacle.
4. How will my next website win me work?
You’re lucky: you’re in an industry where your sheer creativity and the beauty of your photographs will go a very long way. Add to that some striking design and well-chosen words and you’re almost on to a winner. But you do need to think about how you’re going to convert website visitors into enquiries.
If you plan to sell online, you will literally need to convert visitors into sales there and then. So think about what people need to see from you to be reassured enough to buy. There are some great companies specialising in ecommerce websites who will help you with this if you have the budget. Either way, think about how you communicate delivery times and costs, how efficiently your design style is communicated and beautiful photography that shows off your product at its best.
As a florist, you really need your website to generate enquiries. You’ll need case studies, a stunning portfolio and perhaps an insight into your creative process.
5. Is this the right person for my business?
All of the work we’ve done so far leads us to one, clear question: is this company or freelancer the right partner for my business? They may be lovely (I do hope so!) but are you confident that they will deliver something that will take your business forwards?
Look at their website: what do they specialise in? What do they say about their strengths and their style on their website? What projects do you notice in their portfolio? You don’t need to love everything, but you should see a good handful of designs that reassure you.
Something to consider: if there are a couple of web designs that stand head and shoulders above the others, it’s likely that the company you are looking at developed the website (ie, built it) but that another company designed it. This is not a bad thing, but you must understand the difference because it does demonstrate that the company you are looking at are unlikely to be able to design to that level.
You should be excited about the prospect of what this company could do for your business. If you’re not, I suggest you move on.
You have the power to create a wonderful website for your business: one that places you head and shoulders above the competition; one that wins you the sort of projects you dream of; one that generates a steady stream of enquiries. All of this is possible with a little planning and a splash of know-how. I hope that the pointers above give you a good head start, and if you’d like some hands-on help then do join us on March 25th for an inspirational and productive day helping you brand your floral business. Simply click here to secure your place.
(Images : Fiona Humberstone)