Things to consider before you speak to a Web Designer…..
Quite often I will get a phone call from a potential client and the first sentence I hear would be “How much is a website?”
This worries me; however I would normally continue with the call and listen to what the caller wants. After a few questions thrown to them I soon realise that the caller doesn’t really know what they want from their oncoming web project and they have not given their request much thought! They have no content to show me and cannot tell me who their ‘competitors’ are.
Ethically it would be wrong for me to take on the job, I would not ‘wade’ into the caller doing a Deborah Meaden impression but I do try and give them some guidance on how to tick off a few boxes on information required, ending the call saying I would love to speak to them once they have done some research on their website project: and surprisingly more often than not they do call back!
Then there is the call and I hear someone say “Hi, I’m looking to build a website and get it launched as soon as possible. I have done some research and have content for you to look at”. That’s when I think coffee!
I never expect any client to be a professional proof reader or leading article expert in their Business sector but it would help them and myself if they tell me basically a story about themselves, what they do, what they want to do and how they feel they can best do it.
Yes I am looking for a basic plan!
These plans delivered to me via email vary from Client to Client and I am very flexible in the responsive course of action I take, to work on the content and transform it to a website. I have had paper plans scribbled onto paper (with clues of late night coffee embedded into the paper) and bullet points noted on different pages, including a list of who they think their competitors are! To me this is ideal because it gives me an a starting point to getting the Project off the ground, rather than waiting weeks to have a four page typed up document.
So before I go any further I want to stress that I do not expect volumes of typed up documents and a paper plan that would impress all ‘Dragons’. I simply want information on you, your business products or service, and who your competitors are.
1. Content Management System (CMS) or Custom Design?
The Killer website design you seek is in your head! All we need to do now is get it on paper.
The first Question I would ask is “How do you want to manage the website?”
You may only want to update the website every six months so it would be pointless to set up an admin panel for you to log into just to change a few images or change some wording. That information could be updated by a competent Web Developer, in which case you would only need a ‘bespoke’ design specifically structured to show a number of static pages.
However, if you think you would need to change the information on a regular basis or have products you need to upload daily then you would need a CMS system. Selling products online would involve a specialised CMS system such as Magento. A website you need to change content daily and possibly have a blog would possibly require a WordPress platform.
2. What to consider when selecting your Domain name – Get it right first time
Like any business that has an internet presence you will need a Domain name and you would need to give it some thought. Having a relation to the Domain name to your business is an important consideration.
Genric + term is a good approach to use. Take your chosen keyword, and simply add another word on the end. SeoBook, Travelocity, FlightsCity, CarHub, etc. These words have SEO value built into them, because people are forced to use your keywords in the link. Also, Google (currently) values a keyword within the domain name for ranking purposes. Finally, such a name retains an element of unique branding. These types of domain names score high on the rank-ability and link-ability meter. They are generic enough to rank well for the keyword term, yet contain just enough branding difference to be memorable.
We can check to see if the Domain name is available if you are stuck with coming up with your ideal name. We normal register the Domain name on your behalf at the same time we secure the Hosting space were your website will be sitting when completed.
3. Who is my audience and what do they want to know?
Consider who you want to target your message to! Don’t become tangled on what you would like or how great you are (although we would include this on the about us page). Think along the lines on what you have to offer and how you have the edge over your competitors. You need to gear your message towards the visitor’s point of view which is “What’s in it for me” - If you get this right then your site will make a positive impact on Google.
4. What is the purpose of my website?
If it is to generate sales, your site will be different than if the goal is to position your company as experts in your field. If you plan to use e-mail marketing in tandem with your site, knowing this in the planning phase will make everything proceed as it should. The more information you can present to your Web designer the better your site will be in the first revision.
5. Content is king
That’s not me saying that! I am dictated to by the likes of Google and this is always on my mind when putting together a website. I will ask a client to provide clear and original content; copy and paste from a competitor’s website will certainly kill your website. Google is not soft and knows where the original content came from. Again, you do not need to have a degree in Copywriting but once I get the feel of the message you want to put out there I will add to the content or ‘beef’ it up to ensure it contains the ‘keywords’ and relevance to your business to get picked up by Google and the likes.
6. Create a Call to Action on Every Page
A call to action is just that, you are asking the visitor to take action. Whether you want them to click a link, pick up the phone, or email you for more information. Whatever your website message is, make sure you tell them what you would like for them to do next. Try and Include this on your paper plan (Wireframe) Not essential but when we meet up for coffee we will discuss and it will be included within the project.
7. Wireframe – paper plan it
Sitting down with a piece of paper and plotting down a rough sketch of your pages will be very useful for you. For example it will give you thought on how to show different categories or products and services and you will be able to break down the structure into different areas. The Wireframe you do can come in many flavours and if you are a technical person you can really go to town on it. Basically I am looking to see if you have an idea of how the structure of the website will work. Presenting a wireframe to a designer will save much time and will give them a clear understanding of the navigation hierarchy and size of the website.
Wireframes come in many different shapes and styles and you are not providing me with architect drawings that I will work from – you are providing yourself with a structure to determine the size and layout of your website.
8. Who is going to keep it up-to-date?
Question: What could be worse than having no website?
Answer: Having a website with out-of-date information. If your website is built on a wordpress platform then you will have full control over the content and you should not require the services of a Web Developer.
9. What’s your budget?
I don’t design for food!
Once you have spent time running through the above points you will need to seriously consider what money you have to spend on the website Project. This is one of the first questions I ask a client because I do not want to spend 4 hours discussing the project and talking top Magento development with ability to sell over 30,000 products with all ‘bells and whistles’ and then to be told by the client that they have a restricted budget of £250.00!
I do get clients who tell me they only have a budget of £400.00 and they still get their WordPress site with the main pages on it – that’s because we spent good quality time at the planning stage and get it right first time.