Are you looking into getting a new website?

Here are 9 things to consider before you start the process.

Mistakes I made when I was a customer showed me that there are specific things to consider BEFORE you start the process of having a new website built. 
 

Take the time to consider and develop a response for each point. It's ok if you don't have all the answers. But, then, at least you'll know that you don't know, so when you meet with the people you will hire, they can help you find the answers.

Having a clear understanding of what you want and what you expect will help you to:

  • stay on track toward your goals,

  • give direction to those doing the work,

  • make the workflow more efficient,

  • select the right tools to meet your needs, and

  • keep the project on time and on budget.

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What to
consider
before you

get a new
website

 
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The
Nitty
Gritty

1. Why do you want a new website?
  • What is the main reason you decided to do this?

  • Is a new website actually necessary? Would it be easier to fix your current website?

  • Are you ready for a website - the key marketing strategy for your business or project - or is it too soon and it would it be best to wait until after other things are achieved?

Identify the specific things that are lacking with your current situation and why you need/want to change that.

2. What is the purpose of the site?
  • What business goals will this website help you achieve?

  • Who will be using the site? Who is your current customer? What new customers do you want to attract?

  • What do you want visitors to do when they are on your website?

    • Contact you?

    • Purchase something?

    • Learn about something?

    • Connect with other people?

    • Register for an event, class, reservation, appointent, etc?

    • Show off your work?

You can have several aintended actions. The important thing is to be clear about what they all are.

3. What is your budget?
  • How much were you thinking you could spend?

  • Does your budget include:

    • domain purchase?

    • the right level of hosting to meet your needs?

    • self-design or hiring a designer/developer?

    • transferring data from your current site?

    • on-going maintenance?

    • SEO / online marketing?

    • graphic design?

    • content writing?

    • photography?

  • Are expectations for functionality aligned with your budget? Or might you have caviar dreams on a McD’s budget?

 
 
 
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The
Fun
Stuff

4. What look & feel do you want?
  • Can you provide examples of websites that have a design style that you like?

  • What about examples of specific functionality you would like to see on your site?

  • Is there an aesthetic you are looking to achieve?

  • Do you have Brand Guidelines to work with?

  • Does this aesthetic match your visual brand?

  • What feelings do you want your site to evoke with visitors?

  • What is your brand voice? Playful or serious, modern or vintage, etc.?

It is help to have a sense of what look you are going for, as well as knowing what functionality you must have, what functionality would be cool to have, and what functionality you could do without.

5. What existing content do you have?
  • Do you have a strategic plan to work within?

  • Do you have written descriptions of services, a  bio, etc? 

  • Do you need ideas on compelling content?

  • Do you have a logo or graphics you need to incorporate?

  • Do you have a library of images that either you own or for which you are licensed to use?

  • Are your photos formatted to the correct size, compressed, and named for SEO?

  • Do you need help finding great photos to use?

  • What are the most important messages you want visitors to see?

  • If you have more than one action you want customers to do (question 2, above), can you prioritize them?

 

Make a list of the resources you have and what you need. Have the actual resources (digital files) compiled and ready to share when you choose your website designer.

 
 
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Your
Expectations

6. What is your timeline?
  • Is there a specific date you need the website to be completed? 

  • Why was that date chosen?

  • Is there a rush? Why?

  • Did you account for the time needed to create all of the features you want to include?

  • Do you need help figuring out a timeline?

Know the real constraints around the timeline to complete the site. Don't rush if you don't have to. And have a specific date to tell your prospective website designers.

7. How much involvement do you want?
  • Do you want to be involved in the creative process?

  • Do you want to have final approval for each major step or do you want a full draft to review and make edits to?

  • Are there any steps in the process that you can/will handle, such as content writing and photos?

  • Are there others on your team that will be directly involved? In what capacity?

  • Do you know exactly what you want and you do not want to deviate from that? Or, do you want to leave it up to someone else, as long as you have a great looking and functional site?

  • What experience do you have planning a website?

  • Who gives final approval?

8. What is the scope of work?

Now that you've thought about what you want:

  • For which roles will you hire? Website designer? Graphic designer? Content writer? Photographer? One person to handle it all?

  • What specific things is each role responsible for completing?

  • Are other people involved whose work relies on any other steps being completed?

  • After considering all of the above, have you made changes to the budget?

Understanding what you want and need to get done will help you hire the right contractor for the right role.

9. How will you measure success?
  • What are your goals, objectives, and key benchmarks for each part of the project and for the new website overall?

  • What criteria will you use to decide how the project went?

 

If you answered all of the questions above, it should be easy to determine if the designing and building of the new website was a five-star project. You will also increase the chance the website hits the mark if you can communicate your expectations from the start.

  • Also, once the site is live, how will you decide if the new site is successfully doing what you want it to do?

  • Are your goals and objectives S.M.A.R.T?

Specific

Make your goals specific. Provide details on who will is involved and in what capacity, what the look and feel will be, which business goals this will be working towards, etc.

Measurable

Make your goals measurable. Include specific dates for every step. Include quantity for word count and images. Have a general idea for how many visitors you want the site to attract, acceptable bounce rate, etc.

Attainable

Make your goals attainable. Be realistic about what can be accomplished with the resources you have (budget, people, time).

Relevant

Make your goals relevant. Don't have expectations for the site that are outside the scope of what the site is meant to accomplish.

Timely

Make your goals timely. Have dates in mind not only for the website launch but for key benchmarks and specific objectives (such as when you will see a map of the site's pages, when the written content will be finalized, or when photoshoots will be completed.) Factor in ancillary projects, such as your marketing plan, press releases, event dates, product launch dates, etc.

 
 
 
 
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BONUS
TIPS

  • Think like your customer - What questions are they asking? What are they looking for? Don’t make your visitors work or think too hard to navigate your site or find what they seek.

  • Your visitor should be able to ascertain the answers to these 5 questions immediately - or at least see where the info is located:

    • Who are you?

    • What do you do?

    • What information is found on your site?

    • What sets you apart from the competition?

    • What action do you want your visitors to take?

  • Make sure the first thing your visitors see grabs their attention in some way. Use a gorgeous large-format photo, include some silent video, or have some awesome graphics.​​

  • Include some method of customer feedback. People want to know that their opinion matters. And they love to share it.

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Visitors
decide within

10 seconds

if you're worth
their time.
Good luck with your new endeavor. And remember to have fun!