How to get the website you want

Getting a new website for your company is an important step when starting a new business or reaching out to new customers for your existing business. If you are not technically minded you may not know exactly what you need from your website or how to express what you want. This post provides tips on how to pick a web designer and come up with some initial requirements for your website. Once you have picked the right designer they can also provide you guidance on the process of designing and launching your website.

Picking a designer

The first step to getting the website you want is to pick a designer that you would be happy with. Looking at a designer’s website and portfolio will give you an idea of their design and technical skills but you will need to be able to work with the designer to get the website you really want.

A good designer will listen to your requirements and consult you throughout the process of creating your website to confirm that you are happy with what is being done. They will also an extensive knowledge of websites and will be able to point out any issues with the requirements that you have given or point out any improvements that can be made to get more out of your websites.

If you have any questions regarding your website e.g. How do I accept payments on my website? your designer will be able to answer these for you and ensure that you can understand the answer no matter your level of technical expertise.

How to pick a designer

  • Look at the designer’s portfolio, do you like what you see?
  • Does the designer have positive feedback from their previous clients?
  • Do you get a good impression from your initial contact with the designer? Do they answer your enquiries in a timely manner? Do they provide pricing information willingly? Do you they give informed and easy to understand answers to any questions that you have?
  • Is the price right? There is no point in picking a designer whose work you love if you can’t afford to hire them. If your budget is tight look to freelance designers who have lower overheads than a large agency that has to maintain offices and support staff. You could also ask your designer if they are open to adding functionality to your website in phases if you can’t afford everything you want right now.
  • Does the designer go into detail about what will be included in the quote for your website? Do you understand everything in this quote?
  • If you want custom functionality does the designer have coding skills to do this?
  • Can the designer help you with the hosting of your website if you need this?
  • Can the designer optimise your website’s search engine ranking?

Do you just need a website?

If you don’t already have a domain name (e.g. sarahwallis.id.au) you will need to get one of these. If this is a new website you will also need somewhere to host the website. Your web designer may be able to recommend a hosting company that can take care of both of these or you can use google to find a company yourself. If you don’t have your own IT person you should look for a hosting company that can take care of backups and software updates to ensure that your website stays secure and you don’t lose your data.

A website is a great way to attract customers but they will need to be able to contact you. Do you need to set up email? some hosting providers can also provide this. If you have any questions about setting up social media accounts for your business your web designer can help with this.

What do you like?

When requesting a new website you would definitely have ideas about the kind of website you want. The easiest way to communicate these preferences to your designer is to show them other websites that you like and point out why you like them.

Some questions to ask yourself to work out what kind of website you like

  • Do you like minimal websites or do you want something that pops?
  • Do you like a spaced-out layout that you have to scroll through or do you like as much information as possible in front of you?
  • Do you like animations (such as button rollovers and loading animations) on websites or do you find this distracting?
  • Do you want to be able to add yoour own content

One way of collecting the websites you like to show your designer is to use a Pinterest board. Since it is very visual Pinterest is a great tool for collecting examples and documenting why you like you a site.

How to use Pinterest to store your website research

  • Register at www.pinterest.com or use your existing account.
  • Create a new board for your website research, if you don’t want anyone but you and your designer to see this board you can set it to private.
  • Open a new browser tab and google to your heart’s content. A good place to start is to see what your competitors or businesses in similar industries are doing on their websites. If you can remember other websites that you really like don’t forget to include them.
  • For each website you like
    • Copy the URL from the address bar in your browser
    • Click on the + button to add a pin
    • Select pin from website
    • Paste the url you copied into the form and click next
    • Pick the website image that will best help you remember this website
    • Add a description and click the pin it button next to your website research board
  • When you are done go to your board and click the invite link
  • Enter the email address of your designer
  • Click send

What do your customers need?

Your designer will need your logo and any style guides you have to design your new site to fit in with your brand visually. For your website to be effective in promoting your business it will need to appeal to your business’ target demographic.

Some questions to ask to determine your customer’s needs

  • Will your customers need to contact or find you when they are out and about? If so location maps and an easy to use mobile site will be important to you
  • Is your target customer active on social media? If so you may want to emphasise your social media links to encourage your customers to follow you on social media. You may also want to make it it easy for customers to share your content on social media.
  • Are a significant number of your customers elderly or differently-abled? If so make sure your designer knows that accessibility is a priority.
  • Do you have a lot of customers in rural areas? If so your website will need to be fast loading on slower Internet connections.

Some questions to determine what kind of website will appeal to your customers

  • Does your business keep up with the latest trends?
  • Is your business positioned as a boutique business with close community ties or is your advantage lie in being one of the large players in your industry?
  • Does your brand appeal to conservative clients or do you pride yourself on being bold and different?
  • Are your customers technically savvy and love all the bells and whistles or do they just want to get in and easily find information about your company?

If you see something, say something

Don’t be afraid to tell your designer that you are unhappy with the site design that they have come up with, even if you are not sure why you don’t like it. The earlier these concerns are brought up the better as it is easier to change things earlier in the design process. Your designer will be only too happy to modify any areas of the design you are unhappy with and talk through those concerns that you have that you can’t quite put your finger on.

With the right designer and some research you will be able to get a website that you love and will appeal to your target customers.

Sarah Wallis

About the author: Sarah Wallis
A creative at heart with a degree in Computer Science, my passion is to create beautiful, functional websites to enhance and expand my client's business. I love working with WordPress, Photoshop and Dreamweaver and I can never learn enough new CSS. When not at the computer I love crochet, reading classic novels and jogging very slowly.

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