So, you’ve decided that you’re in the market for a new website. Great! But, where to begin? What are you looking for? What do you ask potential designers for? Do you need all the fancy sounding features they’re trying to sell you?
No doubt, it can be a confusing process. That’s why we’ve put together the checklist below, with points to consider and questions to ask. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but its a good start to help you start thinking about what you’ll have to consider in order to get the most out of your experience of working with a professional web designer.
1. Do I need to already know exactly what I want?
No, and in fact, if you talk with someone that expects you to know all that you need or want, run!
While it certainly is important to have an idea of WHY you’re looking for a new website, part of the service that any decent web design company should offer is guiding you through the process to discover what it is that you actually NEED.
The old adage, “give people what they need, not what they want” couldn’t be more true. Discussions about a new website should revolve around questions like, “what do your customers think is important?” and “is there something about your business that’s unique that people don’t know about?”.
The answer to these questions, as well as others, should help the designer determine the look, functionality, and features that you’re new website will have. Specific features should only be a part of the conversation later on, unless there is something very specific that you already know you need (like a shopping cart, signup form, or site search).
2. Should I be on social media?
The likely answer is: yes! However, you need to realistically consider how many resources (time, money, and manpower) you can dedicate to managing your social media presence. Just because your company has a Facebook page, doesn’t mean its doing any good if no one is bothering to update it with relevant content your audience finds useful. So before you add every social media icon to your site, choose which ones are appropriate for the audience you’re trying to reach, and then take the time to manage and update those accounts.
3. Do I need to be able to update the content on the site myself?
An important aspect of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is having content on your site that is updated regularly. This is where a website built using a Content Management System (CMS) is really useful.
In the past, many clients relied on paying monthly website maintenance fees to web designers in order to have them update their site. Now, using a CMS such as WordPress, you can easily add, edit, maintain, and manage the content of your site, without having to deal with code.
4. Can’t I just use one of those free/inexpensive website builders I see on TV?
Absolutely. BUT, you get what you pay for. While many of the inexpensive website services promise the ability to update the site yourself, they are most often limited to series of templates you have to choose from (and sometimes pay more for better looking ones), and the ability to truly add custom features is limited. You’re also locked in to paying a monthly fee. If you ever want to cancel the service, you lose your website.
By hiring a web designer, you’ll be able to do much more customization (based on your budget of course) and avoid using a one-size-fits-all approach that DIY website services rely on. This way, you can ensure that the new website is built specifically for YOU and your customers.
5. How will I market your new site?
You can’t just launch a site and expect people to find it. Sure, you might show up near the top of Google rankings when people search for you, your product, or your service, but it requires additional effort to let people know about you who might not be turning to search engines. This can include email marketing, social media marketing, blogging, as well as traditional printed items like direct mail, presentation materials, brochures and others.
While there are certainly more things to consider, we find that these questions are some of the most frequently raised during our initial discussions with new clients. You don’t need to know the answers to these when you first call a web designer – again, they should be able to help you through the process. However, keeping these things in mind throughout the process should help you communicate your needs, and ultimately help you find the designer that’s right for you.