A web designer is an individual who straddles both the creative and technical sides of creating a website. He/she has the ability to understand the clients’ and the buyers’ desires to make the site functional, user-friendly, and pleasing to all the parties involved. As a web designer there are certain items that are needed from you the client to make your site successful. The following are 7 things I need from you before I can design your site.
- Purpose & Goal Completion
- Reasonable Timeline
- Other Sites You Like & a Few You Don’t
- A List of Competitors
- Content – Copy and Images/Illustration
- Collect Testimonials
Let’s take a deeper look into each of these.
1. Purpose & Goal Completion
Why do you want a website? And don’t stay because you need one. Do you want an e-commerce site? Is it informational? Are you trying to capture leads, and ultimately sell a product or service? How you answer these questions will change how I approach building your site. Not all websites are created for the same reason. But every website should have well-defined goals geared towards the main reason. A goal is a predetermined action you want the user to take. It could be landing on a specific page, clicking on a button, or filling out a form.
It takes time to build a website. And it takes a plan. The designer needs to immerse him/herself into the specific market, understand the major competitors, and understand your product and its unique value prop. This can’t be done in a week or two. And it shouldn’t be rushed. But it can be planned and should include milestones and definitive goals to reach completion and launched to the wider public.
3. Sites You Like, and a Few That You Don’t
This will help any designer understand what you are looking for in a website. Do you like a certain look and feel? A certain technology? Both understanding what you like and what you don’t will help dial into the direction you desire.
4. A List of Competitors
Understand that this isn’t the “Field of Dreams”. If you build it, people won’t necessarily come. Maybe your prospects don’t even know you exist. But they know your competitors. Having a list of competitors will allow the designer to further differentiate your product and site from other sites. And understanding your competitors will in turn help create yours.
The purpose of having a sitemap is two-fold, 1. It allows your to understand the basic flow and wireframe of your website and that you have thought through the important factors. and 2. Having a sitemap allows Google to see your site and crawl it. It will allow the designer to set the desired metadata and pass on to the developer the SEO strategy.
6. Content – Copy and Images/Illustration
Beyond determining the type of pages and the flow between pages, receiving the copy and images is extremely important. Many business owners come to a designer with an idea of what they want to say but lack the final pre-written copy. Let this be clear – when designing a website it is not the web designer’s responsibility to write copy. It is the designer’s job to make sure the copy is legible, scannable and easy to be understood on the page. That said, many designers understand this and are versed in writing copy. Some may charge extra for this service.
7. Collect Testimonials
Testimonials build trust and help overcome the skepticism of the potential buyer. They allow for a true reflection of you and your product/service without coming across as “salesy”. It’s the voice of the customer front and center. When users engage with testimonials their walls come down. It’s not a sales pitch and users feel like they aren’t being marketed to.
Building a website is a process. And ultimately, both parties want the process to be as easy and smooth as possible. This list serves as a checkpoint for what is expected of the other. If you, the website owner, come prepared for the first meeting with information that answers the 7 points above you will undoubtedly gain favor with your designer. It will allow for a partnership based on mutual respect for the other while striving to create the best website possible.