As someone who isn’t a designer, I know first-hand how difficult it can be to create the website you want. The truth is that not everyone can afford to have a designer do it all for them or pay for a fancy template - especially when you’re just starting out.
When I switched to Squarespace nearly two years ago and launched my new site, I was so nervous about how everything would look and hated that I wasn’t a designer. I didn’t want to spend money, but I was getting really frustrated.
So what’s a girl to do when you’rein this position and you're also not at the point where you can hire someone?
You learn how to do it yourself!
In fact, how I moved to Squarespace and designed my website is one of the MOST POPULAR questions I get from my community. So today, I wanted to share a few pointers with you to help you make your website look like a pro, even if you’re DIYing it.
#1 | CHOOSE YOUR COLOUR PALETTE AND STICK TO IT
The colours on your website set the tone for a reader. Each colour is associated with different emotions, so it’s important to make sure you’re using colours that reflect what your brand is all about. Consider your tone, purpose and the overall message you want to convey.
For instance, here are the connotations of the three main colours on my website:
- White: light, innocence, purity
- Grey: neutral, balanced, practical
- Turquoise: wisdom, creativity, loyalty
If you want to be taken seriously as a blogger, you need to work on your personal brand, and your colour palette really helps to create the image of your overall brand. Want to try something different? Use complementary colours or an alternative shade to an existing colour.
If you still don’t know where to begin (and trust me, I didn’t), Adobe’s Colour Wheel will become your new best friend. The most important thing is to pick colours that speak to your purpose and style.
#2 | CHOOSE YOUR FONTS AND CREATE A LOGO
When it comes to your fonts, you want them to be clear and professional. Aim to pick no more than three to use throughout your site, one for main headings, one for sub-headings and one for your main body text. In terms of your logo, you want people to notice it – but you don’t want it to distract them from what really matters. While your logo is a focal point of your website, it’s not the main attraction.
I’ve seen one too many cases of logos that look exactly the same on various different blogs. A poor logo or one that’s too similar to others out there is something that could make readers click away from your site immediately. It’s all about first impressions. If it’s badly designed with ridiculous fonts and in-your-face colours, that’s all people are going to remember. They won’t think about anything else when they’re on your site and you DON’T want that to happen.
You have a few options when it comes to logos: create one yourself using a free tool like Canva (which is what my fiancée did with his photography site), buy a pre-made one (search on Pinterest for this) or hire a designer to create you one (this is my plan). All the options are definitely feasible though, so all you need to do is pick one and off you go!
#3 | INVEST IN PROFESSIONAL PICTURES OF YOURSELF
#MotivationMonday just got a WHOLE let better because you're getting a first exclusive look at my new brand photo 😍 I've updated my profile for the UK Blog Awards, I've planned my content for the month, I'm working my way through my freelance course and there might be some other exciting things coming up too. You CAN get to where you want to be if you have enough belief! ✨ P.S My first every YouTube video is LIVE! I've just done a story about it and head to the link in my bio to go straight to it 🙌 what's motivating you this morning? #linkinprofile
Ah, the dreaded headshot.
Some people don’t think they’re necessary. I think they are.
I speak from experience that having a professional image of yourself on your blog and across all your social media channels is a sure fire way to massively grow your personal brand. There are hundreds more reasons I could go into (well, probably thousands, but who’s counting?)
You not only need pictures of yourself on your website so people know who’s content they’re reading, but you also need it to develop loyalty and trust with your readers. Plus, these images will be great to re-purpose elsewhere and you can even overlay them with text.
If you’re not going to invest in a designer for your blog, definitely invest in having a few professional shots done, whether that means getting a new camera, asking a friend to do it or finding something who knows their stuff within the industry. My fiancée does all my photography which I’m super super grateful for. It’s all about who you know, right?
#4 | USE PHOTOS THAT FIT IN LINE WITH YOUR BRAND
A website with no photos whatsoever is definitely not a good thing. You have two options here: take your own or use stock photos.
But if you DO use stock photos, you want to make sure they’re amazing. Not the ones you see everywhere, not one zoomed in of someone’s hands on their laptop with a coffee and really nice nail polish. Please, please, please, not another one of those!
You want to use the kind of photos that represent your brand and that your readers can relate to. Ones where they can actually see themselves in the idea of the image. Ones that help you tell a story.
There are loads of stock photo sites that you can browse for hours at a time. Simply search “free stock photos” into Pinterest and a whole host of recommendations will appear. But if you want to make your website look different and totally your own? Take them yourself.
I set up at my dining room table, bring my usual props over and take a look through my inspiration board. Then, I try to recreate an image using my own individual style. That’s all there is to it! It’s about practice. You want your website to be memorable. Now, people can really associate my image style with my overall brand. That’s what you want.
#5 | USE YOUR OWN CUSTOM ICONS
I got this idea from Lauren at Elle & Co and it’s sitting at the top of my ‘things to do for my blog’ list.
Instead of settling for general icons that come with every template, whether you’re on Squarespace, WordPress or something else, why not create your own? You can use Canva (I swear I use Canva for everything!) Don’t worry, I was a bit unsure at first, but it’s so much easier than you think and will really add to the overall look and feel of your brand.
Go ahead and read Lauren’s post about it to help you along the way.
#6 | MAP OUT EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT
When you’re first creating your website, you don’t know what you want. It’s likely you might want to pick a pre-made theme. But the beauty of Squarespace is that it’s completely customisable, meaning you can make your website look however you want it. Plus, it actually means you can make sure you’re happy with every single detail.
The key is to map out exactly what you want. Get some old wallpaper and draw boxes in terms of how you want each page of your site to look. What goes where, images, links, colours, fonts – everything. Then when it comes to designing it, the process won’t take you half as long because you already know what you want.
In the backend of Squarespace, you can add so many features. It works as a drag and drop builder, which makes it even easier. Content blocks, buttons, videos…the possibilities are endless. Get going and just have a play around.
I haven’t done a full post about Squarespace yet, but I did write one about making the switch which you can read here.
Designing a professional website can mean the difference between attracting one or 100 new readers to your website. Even if you’re DIYing, you can have a website that conveys the right message, describes your whole personal brand and makes you look good in the process.
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Have you ever thought about DIYing your own website? If you already have, what other tips would you give to people?