Business Owners: how to prepare for your first website design project
Posted on February 21, 2013 by Elena
Posted on February 21, 2013 by Elena
A great deal of our web design projects have to do with website redesign. This means that people come to us with outdated, poorly organized sites that typically require a complete overhaul.
That being said, some business owners are just starting to embrace the web (it’s 2013, hello!) by getting their very first website.
If you are new to the whole “web design thing,” keep reading to get the most out of your first experience. And even if you’ve worked with a web designer before, you might find some tips to make the process smoother in the future.
Choose a good web designer
Because you haven’t worked with a web designer before, you probably don’t know what to expect. However, don’t let this lack of experience stand in your way. Do your research and ask a lot of questions to determine whether a particular individual is a good fit. Take into consideration their portfolio, experience, clientele, personality, pricing, and even call their references if necessary. A good web designer is the foundation for the project’s success. Pick someone who will take the time to guide you through the entire process. You can find some more tips on choosing a great web designer here.
Settle with the domain name
As a website owner, you will need to buy a domain name (example: www.yourbusiness.com). Because you are joining the game so late, many good names might already be in use or taken hostage by people who attempt to sell them for ridiculous amounts of money. Early in the web design process, find out if your desired domain name is available and secure it.
If the domain name is not available, try adding other words (e.g. corp, inc, the, company) or alternate spellings. Whatever you do, make sure your domain name is short, memorable and relevant to your business.
Carefully read the proposal and the contract
If you are not familiar with the web design process at all, here is a quick recap:
- You contact a web designer saying that you need a website, mentioning the specifics of the layout, number of pages and any additional work needed (logo, letterhead, social media profiles, etc.)
- A web designer writes a proposal outlining his idea for the website and associated costs, benefits and timeline.
- After reading the proposal, you either accept or reject it.
- If you accepted the proposal, your web designer writes up a contract for you to sign. The contract describes responsibilities of both parties, the essence of the agreement, the deadline, scope of work and associated cost, as well as other legal provisions.
- You can either accept the contract as is or ask the web designer to modify it.
No matter how busy you are, it’s important to read and understand both the proposal and the contract. Failing to pay close attention to the proposal may lead to unrealistic expectations regarding the web designer’s job. Simply skimming through the contract may cause disagreements between you and the web designer about fees or responsibilities mentioned in the contract but ignored by you.
Think like your customers
You probably know one of those people who buy a present for a relative with a secret intention to use it themselves. Don’t be one of these “selfish gift givers” when it comes to website design. The site is not for you, it’s for your current and potential customers to help them learn more about your business, gain useful knowledge or purchase your goods.
This doesn’t mean you can’t be picky about your website’s look, but instead of focusing on what you like, focus on helping your website visitors. What does that bright orange background or a prominently featured visitor counter do besides comforting your ego? Most likely, distracting your customers from other important information. If you are unsure about how your envisioned design will work for your customer, ask your web designer – he or she should have enough experience to give you a good advice.
Don’t chase the perfection
Once the website is done, leave it alone for a while and monitor its performance. You might have new ideas about more things to tweak, but keep them for the future. Each change you make to the site should have an end goal of improving visitor-to-lead conversion. And to know whether this goal is being reached, you need to establish a benchmark of your site’s performance. This involves monitoring your site’s analytics and releasing each design change separately to determine how it affects the overall performance.
Requesting an infinite number of small cosmetic changes is not going to help your business. Yes, a website needs to be attractive, but attractiveness alone doesn’t drive conversions. Besides, as the web and industry standards change, you’ll most likely need to tweak or redesign your website in a few years, so save any major changes for later.
Be ready to do your part
It’s not like you can outsource the job and forget about it, when it comes to web design. The final outcome largely depends on your willingness to cooperate, time invested into the project and effective communication with the web designer. You will come across a few bottlenecks during the web design process, so be prepared for them and learn from your first experience.