Hopeful. That was the emotion that Lara Johnson wanted the moment her ideal client loaded her website home screen.
Even before beginning life coaching certification, Lara knew she was going to be a coach for accountants’ wives.
In her initial project questionnaire, Lara described her ideal client as women married to men with demanding accounting jobs. These wives and mothers feel like their families are spiraling out of control because of their husband’s overwhelming workload. They struggle to pursue their hopes and dreams because they feel trapped by doing it all without the physical presence of their partner.
As an accountant’s wife herself, Lara wanted to teach these women that it’s possible to thrive, not just survive, through busy season and all its obstacles.
First, we talked
Lara had spent some time tinkering with website design and felt overwhelmed with the prospect of doing it herself. We got in touch and set up a consult call to go over her needs. After that call, she knew I would help her make the process of creating a life coaching website doable for her in her busy life.
She’d already been in touch with the graphic designer I partner with, Deena Rutter, about branding (this was before all that began!) so Lara was set to go with her logo and color palette.
We analyzed Lara’s needs
Lara needed her website to be a place of support for accountant’s wives. She wanted it to feel hopeful, secure, but with a slight dose of humor and edge.
(Actually, this is my favorite blog post of hers that I think illustrates that humor hilariously! I want a T-Shirt with the title on it.)
Basically, Lara’s website needed to offer an accounting wife a place to get support when she’s facing overwhelm and busy season. That meant a place to publish helpful blog posts and other high-value resources. And, if she feels ready, a place that wife can also sign up for a free coaching call with Lara to get help specific to her situation.
So, I kept all that in mind as I took the branding Deena had created for her and transformed it on the web page during this whole process.
Then we planned
First, Lara and I planned every aspect of her site.
We hopped on a call and spent about an hour working through her website planner, which is a document I put together that included all the business details, design inspiration, and functionality we had agreed she needed.
We took that functionality and wrote out a sitemap for the website. A sitemap is basically all the pages that need to be on a site and every piece that needs to be on each page (you know, like pictures, testimonials, and other content).
We also talked over strategy for every page, making sure it all aligned with what she was learning in the Entrepreneur Track in the Life Coach School certification program.
The last thing we did in the planning call was set up a recurring time each week to have an update on where we both were at with the project.
Then we both got to work.
Week 1: Visual Sitemap
The first week, I took that written sitemap Lara and I created in the call and I made it into a visual sitemap. Basically, a visual sitemap is the website in black and white.
This makes it easy to see where things will go before I spend any time designing anything. It ain’t pretty, but it’s effective.
I sent Lara images of her visual sitemap so she could approve where things went, along with a screen share video where I walked her through each page and how it fit what we had planned.
Then we hopped on a quick call during our update time that week where she gave me her feedback. Here’s a snippet of her homepage to give you an idea:
During this week, Lara was also working on writing copy for every page on her site. I had sent her copy prompts to help her get started, and we did a bit of back and forth revising it before she settled on the final draft.
Week 2: Design Mockup
After visual sitemap was the design mockup stage. I designed a couple of different versions of Lara’s homepage, taking her branding into account, so she could decide what design elements she liked.
This gave me a feel for her design taste so that I could then apply that design to the rest of the website pages.
I ended up using my own headshots on the mockup because Lara was still waiting to get hers back from her photographer. I wanted her to get an idea of what it would look like with an actual face on it. Here’s a taste of a couple of the design mockup options:
During our update call, Lara agreed with my recommendation to go with mockup #2 because the font was more immediately legible. The first mockup was pretty, but the font takes more effort to read. Lara and I both wanted to be sure anyone visiting her site could immediately comprehend what she was offering and opt-in to get her free offer.
Week 3: Initial Design Draft
After I got a feel for Lara’s design taste, I designed the rest of the pages on her site.
She had amazing photos that really spoke for themselves. Here’s a taste of what it looked like with them in place:
I’ll tell you, adding in photos and copy is always my favorite part. I get to know my client so well as I read about how much they really care for THEIR ideal client.
Like with the sitemap and design approval stages, I sent the screenshots, a walk-through video, and then Lara gave feedback during our scheduled update call.
Week 4 + 5: Revisions
“Revisions” is kind of a boring word. But really, it’s always a super fun time. I got to add Lara’s finalized copy and tweak things exactly the way she needed them to be.
I always include two rounds of revisions for full website projects. I want my clients to create a site that’s exactly the way they need so they can market to their ideal client.
One revision Lara ended up making was to the copy on her free offer. Once she got her lead magnet (or freebie, or whatever you want to call it) written, it came out topically different than she had initially planned.
That’s what these revisions are for, and I got that change added in.
Week 6: Launch!
Lastly came final testing and launch. Lara had already gotten her hosting and marketing email sorted out. All I needed to do was upload it to her actual domain name at theconsolidatedlife.com, test her forms and email automation, and we were good to go.
On our last update call, Lara lamented how weird it would be to not talk every Tuesday night. I could concur. Thank goodness we still have Marco Polo!
When I think back on this whole project, I’m so proud of Lara for her hard work and commitment to doing this. She had some potentially big stumbling blocks come up along the way, but she pushed past them and kept her commitments to herself.
Watch out for Lara Johnson, my friends! This lady has got big goals for her business, and I know she’s going to be an amazing example of what’s possible.
So fun! Hope that was helpful in knowing the website building process a bit better. What questions do you have? Leave a comment below.
P.S. Lara and I worked together to create her amazing site. Here’s a brief overview of the steps we went through together:
- Planning all her content and strategy
- Mapping out where all the content would go with a visual sitemap (plus revising copy!)
- Mocking up a few different design options and settling on one
- Drafting out that design for all the website pages
- Revisions, revisions, revisions!
- Testing and launch so we know everything worked
You can go here to read more about Lara’s experience on this project.
P.S.S. Lara worked with Deena Rutter and me separately, so this process looks a bit different than what Deena and I do when we partner. If you’re interested in working with me or with Deena and me together on a branding + website project, you can go here to learn more.