If you want to expand your web presence, you may be thinking of working with a web designer. Especially this year, most businesses require a quality online presence. But the process of creating a website, even when hiring professional help, is involved. It requires a lot of planning, content, and time. Before you invest in hiring a web designer or embarking on your own web design endeavor, here are seven things I ask my clients to consider before starting their projects.
What are your goals?
First and foremost, having a clear goal in mind is crucial. Websites can be great but creating a website without a purpose is kind of like taking a road trip without a map- lots of fun, not great for business. Taking into account the time and monetary investment that go into a website, producing one without this step can be pretty detrimental to your business. Your goal can be simple- get subscribers to build your audience, improve online sales, interact more with customers, or just creating an online presence to direct customers to. Having a goal and required skillset in mind is a great first step towards building an effective site.
How are you going to drive traffic?
Unless you have a very specific niche and virtually no competition, building and publishing a site is very rarely enough to bring people to it. Having a plan in mind to identify your customers and drive traffic before creating your site will help you determine areas to focus on, effective calls to action, and identify your goals.
Do you have assets or need them?
Quality images are a small, but important part of the web design process. Even the sharpest website is not going to look good with grainy, out of focus, low resolution, or poorly lit photos. If you have outstanding photos already, that’s fantastic! If not, it may be worth investing in a quality photographer or stock images to represent your brand professionally. Alternatively, if you don’t need very specific images, you or your designer can find plenty of free stock images.
How will you integrate online sales into your workflow?
One common goal for people interested in building a new website is increasing their online sales or leads. And that’s an excellent goal to have! But before investing in the steps to make it happen, will your current workflow or inventory system support online clients? If the answer is not yet, that’s ok, but it is worth considering what you will need to do to support these new potential customers.
What will you need in terms of content?
There is a lot of content your site will need before going live, not just copy on the core pages, but more subtle pieces as well. For instance, we’ve talked about the importance of TOS and privacy policies in the past. If you are planning to ship goods and products, including a return policy and shipping policy is advisable. If your business deals with anything sensitive, like healthcare or life coaching, it may be in your best interest to include a disclaimer. Depending on the extent of your needs, it may be worth hiring an experienced copywriter for page content, or a lawyer for your website policies.
Do you have a content creation strategy?
Creating relevant, up-to-date content for your customers is pretty important, not only for SEO purposes but to be useful to your end-users. Discussing how to build content on an ongoing basis is worth doing before investing in building your website.
What are the ongoing costs?
Last but not least, what will your website cost you on an ongoing basis- not only in terms of money but time as well. Do you have a plan to maintain it? Or will you outsource that? Do you have to pay for any premium software fees? What about hosting and domain renewal? How much time will be involved when maintaining a blog and updating site content?
You may not have the answer to every one of these questions, and that’s fine! One of the benefits of hiring a web designer is that they can help guide you through the process of determining how to incorporate web clients into your workflow, content building, and an ongoing strategy. The biggest reason I ask my clients to start considering these factors before we start the process of designing their site is so that they have specific goals in mind, a plan of action for how to the site to achieve those goals, and can get a handle on how much time and energy will be needed for site upkeep.