The anatomy of a highly effective website design!

Hi new friends! My name is Jenn and I'm a graphic designer and business coach over at Self Made from Scratch. First and foremost, WELCOME to It's beautiful, right? (though I designed it, so I'm only 100% bias). I've been Jessica's designer for years, and she is by far one of the most dedicated, hard-working business owners (and mamas!) that I've ever worked with. I'm so honored that she entrusted me with the responsibility to bring her vision for to LIFE with a killer design that's just as beautiful and powerful as she is! 

To kick off the launch of Jessica's nook of the web, I wanted to give you a little guided tour of the site  *cue elevator music* and provide some tips on design elements you should have on your site if you're thinking of starting your own business!

First, let's take a look at Jessica's homepage. Naturally, this is the most IMPORTANT page of your site because it's the first impression readers have of who you are and what you do. You want to make it a good one! 

Isn't she lovely?

Let's dissect things a little bit more. There are three main elements that you want to be sure you include in your homepage: 

1. ) Have a high-quality photo of yourself

I placed one of Jessica's head-shots smack dab in the forefront of her site because I'm a firm believer that having at least one high quality photo of yourself really helps to engage viewers from the get-go. It makes their experience on your site much more relatable because they can put a face to the brand, which - in turn - helps them to feel like they "know you" (<< so important to building brand loyalty!) 

**budget hack: I totally understand that photographers can be expensive and it may not be realistic financially to hire one. If you have an SLR camera (or one that you can borrow) really all you need to do is enlist your husband / best friend / random neighbor across the street to take one simple photo of you against a plain white wall. You only need one photo to make an impact!

2.) Be sure to include these 3 crucial pieces of information. 

  1. Who you are
  2. What you do
  3. Why you do it

So looking back at Jessica's homepage as an example, we have a brief bio underneath her cover photo (who she is), her business roles on the right hand site of her cover photo (what she does), and her mission statement on the in the pink circle (why she does it). These three nuggets of info will provide readers with the basics, and make them curious to learn more. 

3.) Implement strategic navigation to the most important pages of your site. 

Underneath Jessica's bio, I created three navigation graphics that will link to the most important pages on her site. This is the KEY to a strategic design plan! You want to make it easy for readers to access the pages that you want them to visit (rather than sending them on a wild goose chase). Your homepage should highlight the 3 most important areas of your site, and allow readers to access them with a simple click.

Next we'll mosey on over to Jessica's Work with Me page:

I wrote a post on my site about how to create a killer "work with me" page, but essentially the secret sauce of any high-impact sales page (as demoed on Jessica's site) is to keep it short, simple, and make it easy for perspective clients to take action ....whether that be by filling out an application, paying you directly, or requesting more information). Jessica's service page provides just the right amount of information for perspective clients (without being overwhelming), and encourages them to take action by clicking on the "register" or "apply" buttons. 

Lastly, the contact page.

Admittedly, there's no mind-blowing strategy here.. but one thing you DO want to do is embed a contact form DIRECTLY IN TO YOUR PAGE rather than providing an e-mail address. I know it sounds silly, but readers are far more likely to contact you if they can do so directly through your site than if they have to copy your email address, open their email account, and then email you from there. Again, I know it's silly - but you want to make everything as easy as possible for your people! 

Now that we've covered the structural elements of an effective design, here are a few quick notes on style:

1. Stick to one or two colors at most. You don't want your website to look like a Lisa Frank advertisment.

2. Make sure your fonts are EASY TO READ. 

3. Optimize white space. I'm a huge fan of sleek, refined websites with ample white space and a splash of fun details. Minimalistic is classic and always in style. 

4. Avoid clutter! Don't pack your sidebar with ads or sponsors. You want your website to promote YOUR business, not an advertisement for puppy chow. 

5. Make sure it's mobile responsive! It's the way of the world, my friends.

And, of course, the #1 thing you NEED to have for a successful website, business, and life in general - is CONFIDENCE in yourself and what you're doing. You were given a very special gift for a very special reason. Use it and let your authentic voice SHINE THROUGH everything that you do. 

**Before wrapping up I also wanted to provide you gorgeous rockstars with an EXCLUSIVE discount code for all of my design services.**

Just click on over here to fill out my project request form, and be sure to mention "Jessica Oliva" in the "How did you hear about me" section. 

Cheers to designing a website and life that you love :)