6 steps to creating a smooth website-building process
Finding a designer to help you plan and build your website can be an huge asset for your business. But before you hire a website designer, there are some things you’ll need that will help speed up the process AND make the end product more effective.
Almost all businesses have some sort of logo, but not all of them have a solid branding strategy behind it. A logo is a graphic, while branding is the company values and personality behind that graphic. Branding involves a deeper dive into what makes you and your business unique.
After you’ve mapped out your brand strategy, an experienced brand designer will create moodboards, color palettes, typography guides, and a logo. These design elements are used to create a cohesive brand across all of your advertising efforts – social media, business cards, brochures, and of course, your website.
Some website designers provide branding design. But if you hire a website designer who doesn’t offer brand design, they may be able to connect you with someone who can help you build that brand before you start thinking about your website.
2. Marketing plan
A website is great and can do a lot for your business. But a website isn’t a magic bullet, and a website designer isn’t a magician (IF ONLY…!)
If you don’t have a plan in place for what you’ll do post-launch to drive traffic to your new website, you won’t get the return on investment you’re hoping for. Your plan can be as simple as using an existing social media platform to attract an audience, or focusing on search engine optimization to gain new visitors from Google.
Your new website should be seen as a tool in your marketing arsenal, not a magical solution that will solve all of your problems. Having a long-term strategy for how to use your website in coordination with other efforts is the best way to maximize its potential!
3. Clear goals for your website
What do you need your website to do for you? What do you want users do or learn from you when they visit? Maybe you want them to buy a product, or join your email list, or read your blog posts. Whatever the goal (or goals! You can absolutely have more than one!), keeping the ultimate goal in mind is important as you brainstorm content and features for your new site.
The website designer you hire should be able to offer advice on this if you’re struggling to narrow it down, but coming into the project with a few ideas can be SO helpful to the process.
4. Rough site outline
After you’ve nailed down your goals for your site, it’s time to build a sitemap. There are a few pages that just about every website should have: Homepage, About, Services/Products, and a contact page. Any website designer you work with can (& should!) help you finalize your website pages beyond that, depending on specific goals and functionality. But it’s incredibly helpful to me when my clients come to me with a rough idea of pages and site structure.
The text content on your website will grab attention of your visitors and make them take action. You can choose to write it on your own or you can hire a professional copywriter. An experienced copywriter is the best way to get engaging and exciting content for your website. If you don’t want to search for a copywriter on your own, find a website designer who partners with writers for that phase of your project.
Website copy is also a large part of search engine optimization (SEO). What you say on your website impacts how Google and other search engines understand it, so having clearly-written, accurate, well-organized content can help increase your website’s visibility on search engines.
6. Domain name
Some important advice: register your domain name yourself. DO NOT let your website designer do it for you! A domain name is owned by whoever buys it and if you’re not listed as the primary contact for your domain, the law says it’s not yours – even if your website exists at that address. I have had several clients in recent years stuck in the unfortunate situation where the previous website designer has gone out of business and can’t be contacted, or worse, is holding the domain hostage after the working relationship went sour. In some cases, the only solution is to buy a new domain name and start over, which STINKS.
After you’ve settled on a domain name for your site, check on its availability and buy it before someone else does! (I recommend NameCheap for easy and inexpensive domain names.)
If you contact a website designer about your project with these items ready to go, the website designer LOVE YOU 😍, your project will go much more smoothly, and the resulting website will be even more awesome!