What you need to have done BEFORE investing in a website
Going through the web design process, your designer and/or developer team should walk you through the leg work of optimizing your site to meet your individual needs. But there are a few things you should have figured out before getting too deep into your website in order to get the best out of your project.
These are things that will allow you to build a solid foundation, which will make working with your designer that much easier. And when you’re designer has all the pieces they need, they can do a better job effectively designing a website for you that will get results. Here’s a look at a few things you’ll want to have done before investing in a new website.
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Determine your ‘why’
Before you can even think about building a website, you need to know why you need one in the first place. Now’s the time to dive deep into your business and gain a better understanding of how your website will fit into the big picture.
Before diving into building your website, get crystal clear on who you ideally want to visit your site and what you plan to offer them. What are their likes & dislikes? What are their hobbies & interests? Once you have a good understanding of their specific needs, it will be easier to build a site that suits them.
Think about why you need a website. Is it to sell products? Establish authority? Gain exposure for your business? Book clients? These are the things you need to think about. Then go a step further – what does your site need to do in order to help you achieve these goals? How are you going to ensure that these goals are met?
Choose a website platform
There are a ton of website platforms out there — WordPress, Squarespace, Shopify and everything in between, but not every platform is going to be the perfect match for you. Don’t worry, it’s okay if you don’t know what platform you want to be on. Your web designer and/or developer can help you make the right choice based on your individual needs.
If you’re deciding yourself, consider what important functionality and/or features you’ll need on your site. Do you need just a simple blog? How about an e-commerce solution?
Try to think long-term. Maybe your site won’t have a shop now, but if you’re planning on adding one in the next year, then that’s something to keep in mind.
Consider your tech comfort level. Are you capable of maintaining a more complex site or do you want something that is super simple to maintain? Will you be updating your site yourself or will you hire someone to take care of that for you?
Think about your answers to those questions and then take a look at the various platforms out there. Which ones best fit your needs? If you’re confused, ask for help — consult with a web designer and/or developer who can tell you which platform will be the best fit based on your individual needs!
Secure your name
If you don’t already have a business name, now’s the time to get one. A name is a key part of your business and your designer cannot do much, as far as branding, if you haven’t decided on one!
url & social media handles
Once you have your business name, go ahead and secure your URL as well as any social media handles. Unsure if you’ll use a specific platform? If it’s available, get it. Having these in your possession as early as possible will prevent any headaches in the long run.
And while you need to have your domain secured before investing in a website, you don’t necessarily have to have purchased hosting. It’ll help make things speedy if you do, but if you don’t, it’s not an issue. Your designer or developer can guide you along the way to a host that works best for your website goals, as well as one that you’ll be happy with.
Create and gather content
A website is only as good as the content that is loaded on it. All the content doesn’t necessarily need to be complete before your hire a designer, but you should be in the process of gathering assets and have some major decisions already made.
Make some decisions
For example, if you’re planning on hiring a photographer for new head shots or a copywriter to write your sales page, you need to plan ahead for this. Working with these professionals takes time, so it’s important to think ahead and get the ball rolling on those tasks before you get started on your website. That way, your project won’t be pushed back due to schedule conflicts or booking arrangements with your other vendors.
When it comes to your site’s content, it’s also important to give what pages you’ll need some thought. How many services do you have? Do they all need a separate page? What about landing pages? Think about each and every page you may need and make note of it.
If you’re not hiring a copywriter, now is the time to start writing your site’s copy. Most web designers prefer to have content before they start designing a site. Not having your content ready can delay a project (potentially costing you money) so make sure to start working on that ahead of time. Also, with all the pieces in hand, it’s much easier for your designer to layout a site that works exactly with your unique content.
Above & beyond prep
When investing in a website, the more you have planned out before diving in, the better. Here are a few ‘over-achiever’ things that are helpful to have in place before hiring a designer. A good designer & developer team will walk you through these questions in order to build a site that works specifically for your situation.
What’s your plan for on-going updates & maintenance – will you maintain the site or will you hire out?
How will you market your site and gain traffic?
What social platforms will you use and how will they tie into your site?
What opt-in freebie(s) will you offer and how will it be delivered?
What email marketing provider will you use?
How often would you like to email your subscribers and what will you send them?
Do you plan to blog? If so, how often?
Before investing in a website, really think things through and have a solid understanding of what your goals are. This will help you craft a website that is built to help you achieve those specific goals. While you may be eager to hire a designer, it’s important to have these things at least in process, so you can get the best possible final product. Having these major things figured out before-hand will allow your designer and developer to create a website that works for your individual needs.
If you need more help preparing to launch your website, we’ve created a website launch guide. It walks you through all the steps, from planning to finally launching!
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