This is a quick list of considerations to think about before contracting a web designer to ensure you get what you need in a web site. Sure it’s easy to meet with your web designer, give your brief then leave it up to them to put it all together but with a little forethought into what you really want and how much you are willing to pay will help turn an OK website into one that you are really excited about and returns the results you want. It’s still surprising how little emphasis some businesses put into their website and at the other end of the scale how much dedication is poured into the company web site by others. When businesses start getting online enquiries, this is generally the time more interest is given to the online presence. This list is by no means exhaustive so it would be great to hear your thoughts on what clients could consider to provide a solid foundation for their new web site.
- What pages would you need to best categorise your company? Having topic specific pages works well as part of the optimisation process.
- Do you need social networking integration? If so it’s important that your site is fully functional before working on your networking. Your web site is your online presence so you want to make a good first impression for all of your visitors.
- Do you need a blog and if so how will it be maintained? Blogs are a great addition to any website and the search engines love them…..if they are utilised. If you don’t think you will be able to write fairly regular interesting articles then it’s not worth implementing one IMHO. It can always be implemented at a later date if you change your mind.
- What landing pages do you need and how will they be integrated?
- What optimisation requirements do you need or expect? In general good web designers will optimise your site organically ripe for the search engines. After that you may want ongoing search engine optimisation specialists to monitor and tweak the site and build backlinks. Alternatively if you have the time and patience you should continue to build your own backlinks to improve search engine rankings.
- What sites do you like? Giving a website designer a list of URL’s of the style of site you like can save a lot of time and money in the design process. I stress here that the URL’s should be purely utilised for inspiration and not copied by any reputable web designer.
- Do you require a content management system so updates can be made by yourselves? I am probably going to get shot down for saying this but generally speaking a website designer will be able to achieve better results in complicated layouts as well as optimising images for the web. If you are comfortable with image optimisation and need to make basic text changes regularly then this is definitely worth considering. If you think it’s going to look cool to have Comic-Sans thrown amongst Arial fonts and lots of animated gifs then probably leave the work up to your web designer.
- What budget does the web designer need to adhere to? Websites are easily scaleable in most cases. Discussing your requirements and budget with your web designer is important to get an idea of just how much of your wish list can be achieved for the price. A good proposal will break down the elements and less important elements can be removed if the budget is exceeded then added at a later date if required.
- What web site hosting is the web designer providing or recommending? Hosting varies substantially both in price and features. Most websites have a list of Hosting options available to best suit your requirements.
- What domain name would you like and is it available? If your preferred name has been taken then think outside the box and try and incorporate a keyword or two additional to your preferred choice. eg www.neesh.com.au, www.neeshdesign.com.au, www.neeshwebdesign.com.au.
- Who will supply the web designer imagery and content for the site? I generally tweak the content provided by my clients for optimisation purposes with their approval.
- Do you have a company logo to supply to the web designer or would you like one designed for you? Generally speaking an EPS/Vector file is best to work with but high quality PNG, JPEG’s, TIFF’s, GIF’s are generally fine for web use.
- Are you willing to be locked into maintenance contracts and hosting? Personally I would like to be in control of this myself. I’ve heard too many stories of domain names being held, no accessibility to the clients own site files, high fees and no service by unscrupulous operators locking their clients into inflexible contracts.
- What market demographics do you want your website to target? The appearance of your website should reflect this.
- When does the website need to be completed? Don’t make short deadlines as the end result may suffer.
- Do you need e-commerce capabilities? Once again, don’t incorporate e-commerce if it’s not required. It should be obvious I know but it’s easy to get carried away with the sales pitch upselling the possibilities of selling something online.
- How will you be able to monitor your sites effectiveness? For web sites made by NEESH Design that have ongoing maintenance with us I incorporate Google Analytics to keep an eye on the sites progress along with hosting statistics and some peripheral software as required. Most hosting companies provide extensive statistics that can be emailed or viewed online by the client.
Well, I’m sure there are more things to consider so hopefully some comments will fill in the extras. As mentioned these are just considerations that may be useful to think about before rushing in to get a web site and should help you contribute to the process of building an effective marketing tool for your business.