4 things you must do before hiring a website designer
You’re looking into the possibility of working with a designer to bring your fab new site to life, congratulations! That’s a big step into the legit business world, I’m so happy for you!
The vast majority of my clients describe figuring out getting a new website as ‘overwhelming’. I know you have enough things on your Thanksgiving-sized plate already, so we’re going to break this down really easily.
I’m going to lay out a clear set of to do’s and questions to answer in order for you to get the site that’s right for your business.
Imma give you some tips, straight from the mouth of a web designer, on how to tackle this mountain, properly. There’s just 4 steps, that’s not too rough, right?
Here’s the few things you’ve gotta sort out yourself before you can begin working with a designer.
While designers may assist a little here and there with these bits and provide advice, the more of these decisions you’re able to make yourself, the more your website will be the final product you truly want it to be.
1. Ask yourself – what pages do you want on your website?
I once had a client come to me a wild panic saying ‘I launched a new business and I need a website! How much will it cost?’
Websites are generally priced based on the number of pages created. As you can imagine, making a 1 page website is a lot less work than making a 20 page site. Before I could give the client a price, I needed to know the scope (fancy term for the size of the project, that is, the number of pages).
Action step: Write out a list of pages you’d like, and add ‘em up. When you inquire with a designer say you would like a website with X number of pages.
2. What functionality does this bad boy need to have?
Do you need to sell products or services online? Do you need clients to have individual account logins on the site? Would you like to have an interactive calendar where clients can book in for appointments with you in your available time slots? Are you looking to have application forms for job postings? Thinking you’d like a pop up opt-in for your newsletter?
All of these little bits of functionality will enlarge the scope (size) of the project, so these are important to let your designer know from the get go.
Action step: Write out a list of ‘functionality’ you’d like your site to have. Again, when you inquire, let the designer know these needs.
3. Pick a platform
“What’s a platform?”
Websites used to be built by coding the entire thing, and as you can imagine, they were both an eyesore and a pain in the buns to edit and update.
Website platforms were built to give every website a basic starting point, without coding the entire thing. The common platforms out there include Squarespace, WordPress, Shopify & ShowIt.
There’s two ways to go about picking a platform.
First is to read online the platform comparison charts (these change every year - so be sure to find the most recent ones), and a few intro articles on each platform. Also a Google of ‘platform’ vs. ‘platform’ is good once you’ve narrowed it down to 2.
Okay, I get this can be where the overwhelm starts, so I have a second option for you too. The last thing we want is for overwhelm to take over, and this decision to get pushed back and sit on your to do list forever.
Your second option for picking a platform if you wan’t decide yourself is to inquire with a web pro and ask their advice for your specific needs.
Do know that some designers specialize in just 1 platform, so if you’re going to ask a designer for advice and want to be absolutely positive that you get an unbiased opinion, choose to ask a web design agency that offers design on more than just one platform. This way you’ll be sure the designer isn’t just recommending the platform they use to get your business.
Know that web design agencies tend to be pricier to work with than individual designers, but just because you ask a web agency one question doesn’t automatically lock you into working with them.
What to avoid: I often see people asking in Facebook groups ‘what platform do you use for your website?’ and I’ve gotta say, this is really not the right question to help you get where you want to go. Just because Sally who runs a coaching business uses WordPress, doesn’t automatically mean that it’s a good platform for your online bath salts shop.
Action step: Check out platform comparison charts, and articles on platform vs platform. If you’re still stuck, call up a web design agency that offers design on multiple platforms. Tell them about what you want in our website, and show them some inspiration websites.
Website platform, number of pages and functionality are what most projects are priced upon. With these details clear, you designer can get you that price quote you’d like without delay!
4. Prepare text & photo content
Some designers will work with you even without your site text and photos compiled, and will use ‘lorem impsum’ and stock images as holders.
I’ve had experience designing sites both way, and I must say, I believe clients get SUCH a better final product when they have the real content prepared beforehand.
I believe this so firmly, I now will only work with a client once their content is prepared, in fact, a lot of designers are this way. I sweat we’re not trying to be difficult, we just truly care about your project and are trying to get you a site that is actually useful to you.
I’ve found that for clients, its hard to give feedback on a website when its full of fake content. Additionally, when fake content is used and the site design is done, it’s not really done, you need to go in and swap in all the real content. If you want to save yourself this time and headache, just get the content prepared beforehand. It’s really a waste of time for your designer to input content and then you to have to do it over again – especially if you’re not all to website-editing-savvy.
Also, when you have real content ready your designer will also able to give more advice to you on how to optimize your content, headings, navigation items, Calls To Action, etc. for the current best practices, which means you get a better website!
Action step: Call up a photographer or go whip out your DSLR and start taking photos. Block out some time, pour yourself a cup of tea and start writing your site content. It’s fun, promise!
That’s it! Not so bad right? With these bits ready, you can pick your perfect designer and get the ball rolling on your fab new online home!
When picking a platform, did you settle on Squarespace? Perfect! Well then get in touch friend, because Squarespace is my web design specialty!