Having a new website design project go smoothly, meet all your expectations and launch on time requires thoughtful planning. During our discovery meeting, I will have lots of questions for you.
It’s important that you know what goals you have for your site. What part does it play in your overall business plan? Who are your visitors and what are their needs? We will need to nail down exactly who is coming to your site, how they are getting there, and what you want them to do before they leave.
Your Website Project
What are your hopes and dreams for your website? Imagine that six months after we launch your new site, you’re super happy with it and excitedly telling your colleagues. What has to happen, to make you feel that way?
Understanding why you’re building a new website, and articulating it for me, allows me to build exactly what you need to help your business.
- How do you expect people to find your website?
- What do you want them to do while there are on your site? Fill out a contact form, call you on the phone, join your email list, get routed to your Social media platform or an Etsy store…? There are many possible actions.
- Will you be able to measure how well your site has met your business goals?
A brochure website includes the basics: a Home page, an About page, Services, and a Contact page. Blog sites and business owners who want to incorporate email marketing will require much more than that. How many pages do you want on your site?
Identify your critical services and think about how you want to market them. You may need additional pages like:
- Descriptions of Services
- Portfolio or Gallery Pages
- Downloadable Content
- Email Signup Forms
- Video Files
- Terms of Service
Record as many of these items as you can think of before our meeting. Then I can help you narrow or expand the list as needed.
Know how much money you can afford to put into building your website. I can usually scale a project to fit within your budget. I prefer to create customized websites for each client, but I’ll work with a template if it helps you get online.
- Do you have high-quality images for the site?
- Do you already have a logo? How about a style sheet or a mood board?
- Do you have a copywriter to handle new content?
- Who will handle software updates and keep your site secure after it goes live?
Understanding budget limitations before you start is critical to the success of your website project. Consider: Halfway through the build, you change your mind on the layout, or you decide you want to add new functionality. Changes in project scope will have two consequences: There will be a charge for additional work, and the website launch date will be extended.
And now (she says, rubbing hands together eagerly) we get to the fun part. Okay… fun for me, because I’m a nerd who likes to build things.
Building your website has three separate and iterative phases: design, development and testing. The size and complexity of a website build determines how long it takes to complete the work required before launch. If all of the content is available, a simple website can take a couple of weeks to build. Bigger projects can take 4-6 weeks.
Here are two fundamental and related questions: How much time do you have before you need to launch your website? How long will you need to gather all of your content?
I’ve found that the biggest bottleneck to most projects is gathering content: all the stuff on your site.
- High-quality photos of you and your team members for your About page
- High-quality photos of where you work, events you’ve done, anything potential clients will find interesting or helpful
- High-quality stock images that are used to fill out the site, give it a cohesive look and feel, and showcase your brand. (No, not the cringey “people in business suits giving a thumbs-up” kind of stock photo you might be dreading. I can point you towards some bee-you-tee-ful stock imagery that will fit your business brand perfectly).
- Videos, if you’ll be using them
- Web Copy – last but not least, these are the text and words that will be featured on the site. Titles, headings, descriptions, information, calls-to-action, which phone number to use… so many things. This is by far the most underestimated category of content in terms of how much of it there is, how long it takes to write, and how hard it is to write it well.
Key Team Members
Projects run smoothly when there are clearly defined roles. Who is the primary decision maker for your project? Is there anyone who can veto any of your decisions? Does anyone on your team have the authority to make changes along the way? Who will sign-off and give final approval?
Surprising key team members often results in changes to the project scope, which will cost you additional fees. Once you have identified the key players, invite them to our design meeting. Keep them informed of progress and milestones so that everyone knows what to expect when the site goes live.
Gather as much information as possible before your website design consultation. The better prepared you are for the meeting, means that you can get a clearer picture of what is possible, how much it will cost, and the time it will take.