It's okay to come into the designing process with a lot of questions. Hopefully, you're hiring an expert because you want to know what they have to say and trust their expertise.
However, it's also important to have thought a bit about your website and what you want before you dive into the process.
Here's what we're always going to ask you right away if you were to send an email our way saying, "I need a website. Help!"
What pages do you want within your site?
First, you need to be in tune with your brand so that you can clearly communicate the purpose of your site. Who is this site intended for? What's important to them? What do they like and dislike?
After thinking through the purpose, you'll want to decide on the basic structure of your site. How many pages will you have? What content should it include?
We recommend no more than seven pages in your navigation. You don't want to overwhelm your visitor with too many options. They won't know where to go. However, you can use drop-down menus for pages that all fall under the same theme. This is perfect for photographers with portfolios that cover several different subjects.
We're all for having fun with naming things, but make sure it is clear what the purpose for each page is. For example, a former client of ours owns a bakery where she creates amazing cakes, confections, and cocktails. On her site, she's titled her testimonials page "Cheers and Chatter." The name of the page fits her playful branding while still keeping her message clear. Whereas, if she had named the page something like "Hooray," you probably wouldn't have understood what that page was about until after you clicked it.
What is the goal of each page?
After you've picked and named all the pages for your site, it's important to narrow in on not only the purpose for the entire site but the purpose for each page.
For example, let's look at your future homepage.
What does it need to do? What features do you already know that you want it to have?
On our site, we knew we wanted to include a picture of ourselves to show who we are. We think it's important for our clients, who are all over the world, to see what our faces actually look like. We also knew for sure that we wanted to talk about who we work for and what we offer.
What is each page going to say?
This is one of the most important things to begin working on as soon as you can. Open a google doc and start writing as soon as you can. We also super believe in bringing on a copywriter, someone who will help you write all the words for the site.
This can be an overwhelming task and it always takes longer than you think it will.
Designers can only do so much before they have all the words and pictures for the site. We cater our designs around what you are trying to say. We want your message to stand out. We do not believe in creating a design around fake filler text, it just doesn't make sense.
This can be scary for clients. Throughout the project, they are getting more familiar with their brand and who they are. What if the content they sent us on day one, isn't what they want on day thirty? That's okay, edits can be made here and there.
However, the core message the design was created around will likely remain.
For example, our client - Uplifting Health and Fitness had it included in their Google Doc that they wanted to list out their two main services and the details of what those services looked like. Therefore, we knew we need to create graphics and a layout that clearly presented these two offerings.
What do you like in a website? What do you dislike in a site?
First of all, remember that when we say "you," that you should always be thinking about your business and who it is serving - not so much your personal likes and dislikes.
Taking the time to research out the styles of sites you like and dislike across the web, will help you and your designer discover the overall feel for your future site and the features that should be included.
It can also help your designer recommend which web platform will be best for you and if you'll need need the help of a developer.
Your designer will adore you for being ready to go.
We're so excited to get to work on projects with our clients. We're in this business to help others succeed at their dreams.
By being prepared when you seek out your designer, they'll be able to answer your questions better and deliver you with a final product quicker.
Are you thinking that it's time for your biz to get a site? Or update the one you have? Here's a copy of our Web Planning Guide that we send to prospective clients to help get their thoughts organized.