Starting your own website can be intimidating, and it's not always easy to understand how to convey your vision and website needs. Here's a guide to preparing yourself to open the conversation with a designer on right foot. Not only will these items help the overall design, but it can drastically reduce the turnaround time and number of website revisions. Not all of these may be applicable to you, but they're good things to keep in mind!
Collect 2-3 websites that you love the design of. Any good designer will be happy to look at your examples. This saves both of you time, stress and uncertainty when it comes to creating the perfectly designed website for you. If you can't find websites you love, try making a mood board of designs and looks you like!
Get an idea of your business' voice. Whether you write your website's content yourself, or find a website that has the kind of voice you want for your website and brand. It will be extremely helpful. Many designers will simply ask you what kind of voice your brand has, but an example will go far. Some designers (like us), will even lower the price of your website if you do the copy writing yourself!
Have an informed idea of your budget. Designers, like everyone else, are out to make a buck too. Having a budget in mind will help you pick the right designer for a project. Some designers are super expensive and might overdo your website, some are too cheap and might not do enough on your site. Find that perfect middle ground!
Identify your Call-To-Action (CTA). What do you want your audience to do when they see your website? Sometimes it's simple, like for a restaurant, of course it's a call, order or reservation. Sometimes it gets a little more confusing - do you want clients to call you directly, or fill out a form? Be sure to map out your intentions clearly. Sometimes this is referred as a "conversion path".
Identify any unique features your website will need. This could be anything from a blog, to a forum for visitors to chat, or a members only login page for private information (like a photographer's clients personal album, or inside business information for employees only). If it's a form, put together a list of what information you need from the website's visitors, even if it's like this: Full Name, Email, Phone, Occupation, Address, Message.
Create a list of "website pages" needed together. Any designer worth their salt will have a good idea of what pages your business will need on their website, but it's best if you know that too. This list can be as simple as "Home, About, Portfolio, Contact". Instead of letting a designer run with what they think you might need, be prepared to tell them ahead of time!
Put your logos, brand guide and whatever other design pieces you want included in a shareable folder. By having your design materials together in advance, you cut down on the turnaround time of your website.
Gather your favorite photos. Almost every website has some form of imagery or galleries. A proficient designer will ask for your photos eventually, but it's good to come prepared. For example, a company that sells outdoor products, should display amazing photos of their products on their website! Stock imagery can be used in a lot of instances, but can cheapen the overall look. For an authentic, true representation of your business, the best photos will be yours.
If you're revamping a current website, you may also want to consider:
What do you like and not like about your previous website? This will help your designer focus on the positives while avoiding the pitfalls of your old website.
What are your current analytics? If you don't know, your website provider should be able to tell you.
Want to learn more? Check out our Website Questionnaire, which we ask all our clients to fill out. Even if you don't hire us, it'll give you a good idea of the questions you should be prepared to answer!