Guest contributor Dora M. is the resident design geek at Website Planet.

Developing a new website (or revamping your old one) means facing a series of important decisions. What should your website look like? What feeling should it convey? How will it stack up to the competition? It’s possible you have a business plan or a marketing strategy to help answer some of these questions, but translating them into online practice may not be as straightforward as it seems. With so many different ways to build your new website, it’s easy to lose track of what it should really be about.

This is where your logo comes in. A logo, after all, is the face of your business; it encompasses everything you want people to know about you and your company at first glance. And what your logo tells others about you can be a good reminder of what you should keep in mind about yourself.

There are many advantages to making your logo design the very first step in the development of your website. First of all, filling out a design brief is a great way to define what it is that you want your logo and branding to convey. Second, tackling the logo challenge right off the bat will help you keep an open mind, so that when that surprising but brilliant logo is submitted to your contest you won’t pass it by. Finally, once you have your logo in hand you can use it as a key reference while while developing your website. Here are some tips on how to do that:

#1: Be True to Your Colors

One of the most important things to nail down early on is your website’s color scheme. Fortunately, that’s probably one of the things you paid the most attention to when creating your logo. Keep that decision in mind when you start playing around with colors and combinations. Relying on your logo colors won’t just remind you of the reasons you wanted those specific colors, it also makes good design sense – with your logo heading every page on your site, the last thing you want is a color-clashing eyesore.

Of course, this doesn’t mean the colors on your logo have to dominate your website as well (although many do, with great success). A more understated site design might use the logo color as a highlight and opt for a different harmonious color to dominate its theme. (Say, a logo in pinks and violets set against a pale green background.). Alternatively, if you’re looking to give off a more dynamic feel you could go for colors that are almost complementary – such as violet, red and yellow. Avoid going for pure complementary colors such as red and green, though, as the result can look pretty garish.

#2: Shape Up

Just like a logo’s colors, its shape can also provide inspiration for website. If your logo has a unique element you’d like to emphasize, you can let that come into play when planning out your design. Don’t go overboard and replace all of your bullet points with a miniaturized version of your logo, but by all means feel free to play around with silhouettes or abstracted versions of it. If you’re especially proud of your unique and intricate logo design, consider opting for a very simple website that will put your logo – and your business – in the spotlight. At the same time, remember that simple doesn’t have to mean somber: using your logo as a mascot can help add both humor and variety to your site’s pages. You can see how we did this by adapting our original logo (known around Website Planet as “Webby”) in various fun ways to direct visitors from our homepage to various parts of our site.

Website Planet

#3: Let Your Logo Be Your Guide

You need a logo because you need an image that will convey the values of your brand. When you’re developing your website, use the style and values your logo exhibits as guidelines. If you chose a simple logo with clean lines, you were probably looking to represent yourself as a modern, straightforward business – and your website should be just as clean and simple. If, on the other hand, you opted for, say, a cartoon logo (this winning “superhero” design in a recent 99designs’ fitness-related contest is a good example), you probably had good reasons to do so. So while it’s never a good idea to drown your content in an overly busy design, you can still allow yourself to be a bit more playful in expressing your brand’s personality.

#4. Compare Notes

Think about how your business logo compares to those of your competition. Even if you choose to go for a somewhat conservative, simple logo that conveys familiar reliability (an important value in a number of industries), never forget that a logo is the graphic representation of your business’ essence and will always have something in it that’s just a little different from the rest. Pinpointing that difference can be the key to making your website stand out. A slightly more whimsical approach in your logo can translate to a down-to-earth copy when you’re writing your content, a clever yet traditional logo can be emphasized with a more classic website design.

Know any other good tips? Or a good example of a website deftly incorporating a logo (perhaps your own)? Do tell!