5 Things a Web Designer Needs in Order to Build You a Great Site
Knowing that you need a website, or that you need a BETTER website is one thing. But in order for a web designer to be able to knock your socks off by constructing what you have imaged in your head is the most important, and sometimes tricky part. As an owner of a web design firm, I see a big mix of clients come in my door. Some know exactly what they want and lay it all out on the table for our staff to clearly see. Others just seem to be unhappy with their current/old site and want something new. The later always seems to segway into several meaningful conversations about what “you like” and you “don’t like”, what you’ve seen out on the web that you like, and how you envision your new website looking and working. It’s okay to be somewhat unprepared with knowing what you want. Part of my job is to help my clients figure that out. But in an ideal fantasy world, it sure would be nice if every client coming through a web designer’s door had an answer to these five questions:
1. Why do you want a new site? To be more specific… Why do you hate your current site? Does it not generate enough leads? Is it too difficult to navigate? Does it look old and boring? There are many, many reasons why someone could need a better site. It’s first understanding what you don’t like about what you have that can lead to finding out what you would rather have. If you don’t have a website there are more reasons to have a site than simply “because we need one”. The key is listing out the REASONS why you need one. Is it to provide information to the public? Is it to educate the public? Is it to capture leads? Is it to sell products? Is it to promote something?
2. Do you need a Content Management System? Since every site’s functionality needs are a little different, so then are the requirements of how the site should best be built. If a client wants a blog on their site, I’m definitely going to build their site in WordPress 9 times out of 10 because it’s easy to use and SEO-friendly for blogs. To be honest I’d probably build almost every site in WordPress if we could. eCommerce, blogging, commenting, logistics and more are all factors that need to be discussed with a designer before coming up with a plan. What is the future of this site? Who will manage it? These are also important questions.
3. What’s your domain name? Don’t have a domain name… well, let’s think of some ideas and find one that’s available. Already own a domain name… well, you should have your domain/DNS account access ready for your designer so that they can easily set the DNS for the new site and take your new site live without any delays. The same applies to your hosting account if your new designer won’t be hosting your new site for you. You’ll need to go and set up your own hosting account. Do this ahead of time so the designer isn’t stuck waiting on you. If you give a designer reasons for delays, they’ll move on to the next project and you’ll be stuck waiting for them. This can turn a 1 week delay into a potential 3 week delay.
4. How do you feel about colors and pictures? You have a logo, right? Is it always a certain color? Well then, that’s definitely going to be one of the main colors on your site. The question is… what other colors look good next to this color and which colors do you like and not like. A good designer can automatically figure this out and present it to you in a mock-up, however the earlier the input on this from a client, the better and smoother the design process will go. Color is something easy to think about when picturing your new website in your head. The same goes for images. Do you like the idea of pictures scrolling across the top or body of your site? Do the pictures have a message with them that you can click on? Or do you imagine a static page with little to no images or movement and a more clean look? Do you like a background that’s white, black, gray, something else? Knowing what you like will save a designer some time and headache from the beginning.
5. What’s your message? Any site can look pretty and artistically impressive, but within regards to its effectiveness the content is king. A site won’t show up in search engines without well-written copy, titles, tags and so much more. A site won’t persuade, entice and peak any interest if the content doesn’t have a clear message. Ask yourself this: If my new site could say one thing in one sentence, what would it say? The answer to this question is what is most important about your business. Sites can be complex and contain many messages, but this alone, this is your most important message. This is what will become the basis for all content to be written around. This is the heart of your message. Why You? Tell your designer what makes you different from others that do or sell the same things that you do. What makes you different or the best? The answer to this question will be your main call to action on your site. Knowing the answer to this question can be the difference in whether your phone rings or not.