9 Things to consider before building your new website
Organsing a website for your business can be a daunting and tedious task. With everything from understanding what your website will require, to finding the right web designer for the job, this list of 9 things to consider before building your new website will steer you in the right direction.
Working out a budget is a fundamental part of business, as it is for personal life. Having a budget for your new website allows you to plan, control and ensure that your business doesn’t run the risk of spending more money than you can afford, or not spending enough money to allow your business to grow.
Generally, a web designer will ask what your budget is to get a clearer idea on the expectations and deliverables of your project. Your budget doesn’t have to come down to an exact dollar figure, and it’s best to work out your budget in ranges… so ask yourself if your website budget is between $500 - $1000, or $1000 - $1500 and so on.
Having a timeframe is important; it is a goal that you and your web designer should work towards to ensure that your website project is completed productively and within the expectations of the project. If you or the web designer doesn’t stick to the timeframe, it is human nature for it to cause frustration and loss of interest.
Generally a web designer will give you an outline of a timeframe in their schedule or scope of work document, whilst taking in to consideration your timeframe requirements as well. Sometimes it is not possible for you and the web designer to meet at the same timeframe; this can be caused because of big expectations and deliverables needed in a small amount of time, or, depending on the resources and schedule of the web designer, the start date could be delayed due to a number of other projects that they have taken on prior to your project.
The most important part of the timeframe is that it is realistic and achievable. If you don’t think you can organise text, images or content for your web designer in that timeframe, you need to reconsider. If the web designer knows or has doubts that the design will take longer than you expect, he or she needs to be honest, and let you know.
3. Stakeholders and Legal Considerations
These are often overlooked areas prior to website design taking place, though considering these points early will definitely assist your web designer, and make you aware of any important decisions that may need to be made in the interim.
- Who will be involved in decisions regarding the website? List names of anyone else who will be having a say on your new website (e.g. a committee, or board of directors, partner, friend or family member)
- Existing suppliers or partners that will need to work with? List any graphic designers, previous or current web designers, hosting companies or marketing teams that may be involved in this project.
- Are there any legal issues needing consideration? If you are part of a franchise, splitting from a business partner, have internal contracts or other legal paperwork involved in this project, note it down.
- Do you own the rights to all materials to be included on the website?
4. Project Outline
The following are questions that a web designer will usually ask to get an idea of your website project, so it’s good to be prepared with answers for these types of questions:
- Is the website for your business as a whole, or a specific product, event, service or offer?
- Tell us about your business? What are your key subject areas? How long have you been in business? If this project is about an event or product, tell us about it?
- Why do you need a new website?
- What does your website need to achieve? Traffic, sales, response rates, leads generated, information source, reputation?
- Target Audience - Who is the website aimed at? What does your ideal customer look like? What is their age, gender, location, income, job etc? What is your current relationship with them? Are they experienced with the Internet?
- What is your point of difference? Why is your business, product, event or service better than your competitors?
- Tell us about your competitors? Please list your immediate and broader competition including company names, website addresses or reference material that you think might be relevant. What are they doing? What can you do better?
5. Website Architecture
Many people have some idea of what pages they want on their new website, and it really helps if you have thought about the order in which they will be shown, for example, have you thought about your sitemap? (A tree diagram of how all of the pages link together). How many pages do you think you will need on your website? Can you list them?
6. Website Features
These are the items that define how your customers interact with your site, and play a crucial part in a web designer’s understanding of your project. Usually the more features you have, the longer and costlier the project becomes to complete.
Features you might like to think about are:
- Shopping carts and ecommerce
- Business automation
- Photo and media galleries
- Feedback and contact forms
- Newsletters and signup
- Members only sections
- Film/audio integration
- Blogs / Forums
- Booking modules
7. Website Design & Style
A web designer should always work closely with you to create imagery to strongly reflect your brand, and it is always appreciated if you can help to express your artistic ideas by providing some examples.
- What websites do you like? Provide the web addresses to websites that you like, particularly for the design and layout. Feel free to comment about what actual parts you like about them.
- Which websites DON'T you like? Provide the web addresses to websites that you really don't like. If you can't find any, describe design elements that don't work for you.
- If you have a style guide, logo design, business cards or other marketing materials, it helps a lot to provide these also.
8. Website Content
It’s great if you’ve already started to produce or have already produced content for your website, but if you haven’t that’s ok too. Sometimes you need a little bit of direction, and sometimes it’s even better to consult a copywriter or marketing strategist to complete this task for you if you’re not handy with words. If you would like to make a start on content, here are some questions you may like to ask yourself to get things rolling.
- What is your "Call to Action" ? What do you want people to do when they get to the site? Buy from the shop / complete enquiry form / call us / read lots of articles / sign-up to the newsletter / get a quote ??? What are the two most important calls to action that will be on the home page?
- What types of content will be on your website - eg text, photos, audio, and their current format - eg digitised, hard copy?
- What content has currently been produced?
- What new content needs to be produced?
- Do you need assistance producing the new content?
9. Choosing a Web Designer
As a business owner, it’s important that you choose a web designer that you connect with, has a good portfolio of previous works for you to review, and has a genuine vision for the way your business should be presented online. Choosing a web designer to work with is a major decision, as it can be the difference between having a great results focussed website that inspires customers to utilise your business, or a website that simply drives them away.
Some points to consider when choosing your web designer:
- Will they take the time to listen and learn about your business?
- Do they compile a comprehensive design brief?
- Do they put together a clear and concise scope / schedule of work to be performed?
- Do they have a good portfolio of work with honest and true testimonials?
- Do they have an actual office where you can meet them?
- Do they have multiple contact methods (mobile, office phone, email, skype)?
- Do they accept a range of payment options and methods (including credit cards)?
- Do they offer additional services such as SEO, marketing, video production?
- Do they have university degrees and / or professional memberships?
- Do they have previous experience in business development roles, sales and account management roles?