I’ve been creating websites for almost 16 years (wow!). In that time I have worked with MANY people who were not quite ready to get started on their new website. This usually means a longer process to complete the website. I had one client who took six months to do their “pre-homework” before we started designing it. Huge delay … thankfully my part was quick.
When I tell prospective website clients stories like that now they always ask me what should they work on before they get started. It is something that surprisingly many people don’t think about. So here are some of my suggestions…
What to do before you work with a web designer
1: Look at other sites you like and don’t like in your industry.
The best way to find out what you might want in your new website is to look at what other people in your industry are doing. I usually ask my clients to give me about 5 websites they really like. I ask them to write down what they like but also what they don’t like about the site. If they have an existing site that we are redoing I also ask them to write down what they like and don’t like about their own current website. This practice allows us to think about a framework that we will develop to achieve your unique voice.
2: Write down the most important features you want your site to have.
Do you want to have video? Are you going to be selling products? Is social media a big part of your site? Is your site going to center around a blog? Are you doing an email lead generation (such as a report, quiz, ebook etc)?
3: Write up a very specific summary of who your ideal client is.
An important part of creating a new website is figuring out who you want it to be for. You need to be really clear on who you are marketing to in order to create a website that does just that. This is often called your target market or ideal client.
4: What is the purpose of your site?
Many times I start a website and I say “what is your purpose?”. Some clients just say, “well I know I need a website”. I want them to be more specific. I recommend that you write out exactly what you want your site to achieve. Why do you have this site? Is it to sell X number of products? Is it to get ad revenue? Is it to bring in 10 new patients a week? Being very clear on your purpose for your site is important before it is designed.
5: Write out your sitemap.
Another big one is to figure out what are the most important pages you want to start with. I recommend an about page, services, FAQ, testimonials, blog, and contact as the bare minimum.
6: Look at different color schemes to narrow them down – colourlovers.com is a great place to start.
Having an idea of what colors speak to you the most (and your target market) is essential to be able to effectively represent you or your business within your site. Color is a very subjective choice. We like to get our client’s input as much as possible when it comes to color. If you are stuck on colors I recommending taking note of your design in your business office space. What types of pictures or colors are you drawn to? What represents what you are trying to accomplish? A designer can help guide you but it is helpful to have a starting point.
7: Write up all of your questions before you speak with a web designer.
The last tip I have is that you write up all of your questions before speaking with web designers. In your consultation (whether it’s over email or phone) be sure that all of your answers are covered before you get started.
If you have taken the time to go through these seven things, you are ready to reach out to a web designer.
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