In part 3 of 5, the creative theme continues and we look at the design of your website and the questions you need to ask your web designer!
Just like the logo / brand identity design process, website design is equally as important and you must spend some time thinking about what you do and don’t like in a website and how you envisage your website looking when its finished and live online.
Nowadays, clean, simple and easy to use websites are the most successful when it comes to conversion rates (conversion rate means turning a website visitor into a customer) so try to resist the urge to overload your website. There is a golden rule that a customer should be able to find out anything about you on your website, look at and purchase a product or read more and enquire about your services within 3 clicks – this alone tells you that your website must be simple in concept and design.
Some of the questions you need to think about before appointing a web designer to create your new website are as follows:
The following questions will help you to think about your website from all angles, such as your objectives, unique selling points and from a creative perspective, and will greatly assist your website designer when you arrange your first meeting.
Going into a design agency with a clear idea right from the start will help to speed things up considerably, and will make your web design agency very happy!
What’s your business vision?
(Describe what you do or where you want to be in a brief summary)
What are the main objectives for your website?
(For example; to attract new customers, raise business profile, increase volume/value of sales, change brand perceptions, launch a new product/service, etc)
What specific outcomes do you want to achieve from people who visit the website?
(For example; to get people to contact you via phone/email, to buy from you online, to tell friends/colleagues about your website or to contribute information, etc)
Who are the target audiences?
(Think about location(s), job/role, industry/market, understanding of your business/industry, typical age/gender, income/social level if relevant, online experience/habits, and so on)
Do you already have a website? If so, what do you want to change about it? If not, do you have a domain name yet, or know which domain/s you want to use? Do they match your business name?
(Sounds simple, but it is important to define what you do and don’t like about an existing website if you have one. Likewise, for new businesses so many people overlook the importance of registering Domain Names as soon as you have decided upon a business name – so get this done first!)
Who are your competitors (or similar organisations)? Which websites do you see as benchmarks?
(Research and find out who your main competitors are. Identify key competitors and their websites and make a note of them. Think about what you like about their websites and perhaps what you would do differently/better)
Questions about what you do and don’t like
The following questions focus on what websites you do and don’t like and will consider your project from a creative perspective. They can be any websites you like and it doesn’t matter what they do – look at the websites creatively and note down why you like / dislike them.
Do you have any preferences for website design style – colours, fonts, type of images? (Please provide examples of any sites you like the look of, if any. It doesn’t matter if the website(s) you like are completely unrelated to what you do – this is for creative purposes. Try to explain what you do and don’t like about the example websites you send over too)
How do you want the website to feel?
(For example; friendly, calm, professional, simple, etc. This should relate to your brand personality – how you want to be perceived, what the experience is like for website visitors)
What are the strengths or USPs (unique selling points) and messages you want to communicate?
(An important aspect to your design and should be well-considered during the build, for example, you might have key services, products or information that you want to show on your homepage, so your web designer would need to provision enough space to include this)
Do you have any visual material, such as photos or illustrations? Do you own copyright for these?
(as discussed above, images are incredibly important and will help to really sell your website to your target audiences. Good quality images make all the difference. Make sure you either take great photos yourself or source high quality free or paid-for images – links to websites above)
Questions about website pages, content and functionality
The next set of questions will ensure you have thought about all the pages you would like on your website and content you want to include along with any functionality you would like built into your website, such as e-commerce, merchant accounts and more.
Do you know what the page titles are for your website?
(page titles will form the structure of your website. It is important you think carefully about page titles and the sort of information you want to include on your website within each of the pages – see below)
Do you know what content you want to include in the website?
(think about the pages you want on your website as discussed above and the content you want to include on each page. Put yourself in the shoes of your customers – what would you want to know?)
What functions might the site need?
(E.g. shop, user registration, blog, forms, website search, a gallery or any other functionality that you should write down in your own words and explain to your web designer so they can grasp what you want to achieve)
For ecommerce websites, how many products will you be adding to your website?
(As a guide, you need to create a product stock list either in a Word document or Excel spreadsheet that contains the product name, price, colour variants, size variants, description of the product, product weight, delivery options and any other product variant or detail, along with all your product images as high quality image files. Having everything together before you start will make your life a lot easier when it comes to adding the products into your new e-commerce store)
For ecommerce websites, do you have your delivery information and terms and conditions of sale written?
(This is a very important part of any e-commerce store, and you should have your delivery information and terms and conditions of sale already written up that includes distance selling regulations where necessary, delivery costs and lead time – next day, 48 hour for example, your returns policy for unwanted/faulty/damaged goods and any other detailed delivery and sale related information)
For ecommerce websites, do you have a payment service provider (also known as merchant account) sorted?
(For e-commerce, you need to have a way for people to pay for products/services on your website. Payment service providers include PayPal, WorldPay, Barclays ePDQ, SagePay and others)
How often will content be updated? Which content is likely to change most often? Do you want to be able to update it yourself (via a Content Management System – CMS)?
(This helps your web designer to understand how often the website will change and what sort of Content Management System – or CMS for short – should be used for ease of updating)
Technical and general questions
The last set of questions considers all the technical aspects to your project, such as email addresses, updating and timescales to completion, as well as any final general questions.
Do you need website hosting and email accounts? If not, please advise on email arrangements
(Either way, let your web designer know whether you intend to host with them or if you have your own hosting already setup. If you have your own hosting already sorted, your web designer will need full access so they can put your website live once it is finished – and setup email accounts if needed)
Do you have any specific technical requirements?
(For example; preferred Content Management System, use of specific plug-ins, level of accessibility, etc. If you don’t have preferences, your web designer will follow best practice)
Do you have a Domain Name?
(Although the registration of Domain Names has already been discussed in an earlier in part 1 of this guide, your web designer will ask this question, so be sure to have the login details to your Domain Name handy)
Supply all business contact details
(Obvious but often missed out until the end. Remember to send all your company contact details over to your web designer, such as full business name, contact numbers – telephone and mobile number if including, full address and postcode, all social media account links and any other contact info you would like to show on your website. It would also be a good idea to let your designer know if you have any specific requirements for any customer contact forms on your website as well)
What are your preferred timescales and deadlines for the site launch?
(Very important for your web designer to schedule in work – make sure you let them know when you would like your website completed by so this allows enough time to design and build it).
Coming up in part 4
In part 4 of 5, it’s all about your business stationery, and we also turn our attentions to another important (if not vital) task of making sure your data is securely backed up! Read part 4 here!