If you're about to embark on the journey of creating a new website, then there are certain things you should be doing ahead of your first meeting with your website designer. Sure, your chosen web agency should be guiding you through the below points (we certainly would), but there are huge benefits to you having prepared for them too.
When we create websites here at GEL Studios, we have a tried and tested process that means we focus on how the website works, before we focus on how to make it look good. That's why there are several things to consider, before you start thinking about colours and fonts etc. You should be prepared for all of the below to come up during your first meeting...
Who are key decision makers?
You may have several team members across different areas of the business, so think carefully about who in your team is best placed to really contribute to the new website. We've all heard of the saying "Too many cooks in the kitchen" - and the same applies to creating a new website. There's no doubt everyone in your team provides value in one way or another and it's always worth getting input for various things - but you should narrow down website decision makers to 1 or 2 key people. This will ensure the vision for the new site is kept on track and doesn't become fragmented.
What does your business do?
Now that may seem an incredibly obvious question to ask - but it's a good one. When asked, there are many (many!) businesses who will not be able to answer that question with confidence and clarity. Think about it this way... If you can't clearly explain what your business does to your website designer, how are they going to help convey it to your customers through your website?
If you've been through some kind of branding workshop to help determine this - it always helps to share this with your designer. If not - and you can't confidently answer "what does your business do?" - then you may be in need of branding.
Why do you need a new website?
Another obvious question - but still important. It's often best to start with the pain points of your existing website (if you have one) - as that will give you a starting point for improvement.
Important things to think about:
- What are the goals of the new site? I.e. what would you like it to do for your business? Is it to raise awareness, increase customer enquiries, help your Google ranking... all of the above? Prioritise these goals so you know what needs focussing on the most.
- Who is the audience? You can be sure you'll be asked this. Perhaps you have multiple audiences - and that's fine.
- Are there certain features or functionality that need including? The more detail you can provide on these - the better. Things such as taking payments, integrating with other business systems you use, newsletter sign ups etc.
What do you think your audience wants?
Your site will likely need multiple different areas of content to cater for the needs of your audience and these areas will eventually form your sitemap. When deciding these areas, think about:
- What does the audience really want to know / do? Always, always put yourself in their position, because as hard as it is to admit - what they want from your website, may be different to what you want to say on your website.
- What's the best logical way to categorise content on your site? A good way to start tackling this, is to think of the main header navigation. Everything you have to say, should fall within these navigation items. Some of them may have sub-levels to them, but ultimately - when the user looks at the navigation, they should immediately relate to it and be able to easily find what they're after. They shouldn't have to think too much at all.
If you have an SEO strategy - then let your web team in on this. This may influence the way your sitemap comes together or how certain content is prioritised. If you have a list of keywords that you're looking to target - also share this with them.
If you have Google Analytics on an existing site - this can tell your new designer an awful lot about user behaviour. So ensure you give them access to this as early as possible. Knowledge is power and having data on things like your most visited pages, or whether people are using mobile more than desktop devices - puts you in a much stronger position when it comes to decision making for your new website. You have actual data to go by, rather than guessing.
Branding guidelines and assets.
We got there in the end - the visuals! If you have a set of branding guidelines that the new website should follow - then share these as early as possible. They may not influence the 'workings' of the site - but it's good for the designer to know the end goal, as early as possible. Assets that will help your designer:
- Logo files: original working / vector files if possible. E.g. EPS or AI.
- Colours: in hex code / RGB format
- Fonts: should ideally be a website friendly font, that the designer can access.
- Graphics / patterns / images: anything that contributes to the look and feel of your brand.
It's always good to have 2 or 3 competitor websites to share with your designer. Not so they can take the best bits and copy them, but so they know what needs doing to make you stand out from them.
Do I really have to do this prep?
If you're serious about your new website, the preparation will be well worth it. Without it, you're looking at seriously risking:
- The wrong outcome. If you've not thought about what you want and why, the final website may not be a reflection of your business or produce the results you're after.
- Increased timescales and costs. If the designer has to constantly change and revisit things, as a result of them not being thought through, this is going to have a serious knock on impact.
We've got you covered.
We're experts in all things web - so if you're looking for a new website, look no further. All of our website solutions are completely bespoke, so we can provide you with exactly what you need. Get in touch today, so we can help tell your story.