A website, otherwise known as an online storefront or a virtual brand, is how you present yourself to the world. This website introduces your company to the entire planet. Nothing to worry about, right?
What should a new business owner do? The site you want needs to be as good as possible, so you should ask a web designer for help.
Thus, should you just do a quick Google search and hope for the best?
Before you take that route, here are ten things you should do first:
1. ASK YOUR NETWORK
Use your professional network to find a web designer instead of that random Google search.
It’s ideal to hire a web designer that comes highly recommended from someone you know, since this gives you confidence that they can do the job.
There are millions of web designers worldwide that can help you design a website, but if you prefer to meet someone in person rather than on Skype, your network may be able to direct you to them.
You can tap into the online web designer pool to find a good match if you are not able to find anyone locally, or if you don’t mind hiring someone virtually.
Searching for “web design help” on Google will direct you to websites that connect business owners and freelancers looking for work.
Find a website in your industry that you like and contact the web designer directly. Most designers leave a “Designed by” link at the bottom of websites they’re proud of.
2. KNOW YOUR WEBSITE GOALS AND PRIORITIES
Before hiring a web designer, think about whether your site will provide information or sell products.
Web designers can assist you in answering questions like this one, but they will most likely charge you for the conversation.
You could instead search online for websites that you like and ones that could potentially represent your brand. You will also begin to draft an outline of what you want your website to accomplish, but we’ll cover that later.
Find out why you want a website in the first place to create a starting point for your project.
3. CREATE A VISION BOARD
Vision boards aren’t just for 20-somethings who are unsure of their direction; they also help new business owners design the best look for their company.
The board could be a virtual one or a physical board in your office. You should include things like colors you wish to incorporate into your brand, font choices, slogans, and graphics you intend to use when marketing your business.
4. MAKE A DESIGN WISH LIST
Are you looking for a designer to build a website from scratch, or do you already have a site that needs updating? There are two completely different conversations: one focuses on creating and executing a vision, while the other on improving an existing one.
Create a list based on your research and vision board including the number of pages, headers, buttons, menus, or any other visual elements you plan to include on your website.
Include any social media buttons or brand icons you need to promote yourself online. The creation of a list of these digital assets will help a designer give you an estimate of how long it will take, and how much it will cost, to realize your vision.
Building a website is like building a house: it always costs more than you expect.
Be prepared and don’t let this scare you! Before speaking with potential designers, do your research and find out what the going rate is for web design work in your area.
Ask other local business owners in the area who they hired to create their website and how much it cost.
If you love a website that isn’t local, ask the owner for the designer’s information. He or she will appreciate the compliment and most likely share that information with you.
6. GIVE EACH PAGE A PURPOSE
How many pages do you want your website to have? What is the goal of each page? How much copy, or words on each page, do you anticipate?
These are just a few of the questions you need to ask before approaching a web designer who will most likely charge you by the hour to help you answer these questions.
Again, the best approach is to find websites in your industry you admire and try to emulate (not copy) their structure to create something similar.
Your website will be a fluid marketing channel for your business, meaning you can update it as time goes on to keep it current, if the structure exists to support it.
Adding pages, changing the layout, or making any significant changes to your website will require additional work. Therefore, it will cost you more money to have your site updated by a designer. It should be your goal to create a baseline site that can easily be updated with information and doesn’t require structural changes to be made.
7. HAVE YOUR COPY READY
Before your designer begins working on your website, you should have the words for each page ready to go.
You need the final polished copy for your site, not just ideas. You should hire a writer if you don’t know what to say, feel uncomfortable, or are unable to write it yourself.
You should hand this final copy over to the designer during your first meeting. This will allow them to design around it. The designer won’t have to guide you through copy creation, and the process will be sped up.
8. ESTABLISH A CREATIVE PROCESS BEFORE THE MEETING
You probably already use tools like Google Docs or Dropbox to manage your marketing files. If you are working with a web designer, create a folder online to begin gathering ideas and storing the information they will need to access for your project.