If you have recently had a website designed/developed, one thing you may have realized is that your web developer asks a lot questions. Why is this?
The answer is very simple; there are a lot questions because no one knows your business and your industry better than you. A web development company can research, study and analyze both your business and industry, but at the end of the day you still can teach the professional a thing or two. Most people and companies don’t understand this concept as basic as it may sound. A great web developer will use you to marry your expertise in your business and industry with their expertise in web development & Internet marketing.
A web project can sometime feel like you’re riding a train or flying in an airplane – completely out of your control and rife with delays and complications. But the same way you can plan ahead to avoid headaches during your travels, you can take measures to ensure your web project gets off the ground on time and delivers as far as timeline and budget.
A Word of Caution
Planning is boring and working on the actual “thing” (web design, marketing technique, etc.) is fun, so most people prefer to skip the boring part and move directly to the fun part, but the result is always the same – disaster. By providing a web Design/Development company your wish list of what you want, they can better help you craft an accurate proposal and plan that will meet your deadline and budget.
Here are some approaches you might want to try next time you tackle a web project (this is both for developers as well as businesses thinking about implementing a website change):
Write down what you want for your web project. Assuming you are about to create or redesign your organization website… write down what you want and what you expect from your new website! Sounds simple enough right? And it is. Don’t worry about having the technical knowledge to know exactly what to write, just use plain English, highlight things you’ve seen on other websites you like. It is the web developer’s job to decode this and figure out what it will take technically. To help keep things simple, divide this list into 2 sections: Must have (requirements) and Nice to have (things that would be great if budget and timeline permit).
More specifically, here are some things you should be able to provide.
- Add basic a description about your organization, about this project and what it needs to accomplish.
- Be clear on whether this is a new website or a re-design of an existing website.
- State the website objective, for example, ‘to start we want an online brochure or basic website with about 10 pages. Our short-term goals: having an online presence to start attracting local businesses to use my company service more. For long-term goals: add a login for business to manage their account and so on.’
- You can even add how you hope to track the success of the website; for example: ‘I will know the website is successful if I start getting about 2 leads/potential customers a month from the website’.
- Provide some ideas about your target market, some relevant keywords you would like to include in your website. Let it be known whether you already have a domain name and hosting. Be clear whether you want to host your website with the new company or with another company.
- Give some ideas on the kind of look and feel you would like for your website, for example, ‘we would like to have a business and high-tech look and feel to our website since most of our client be in the high-tech industry.
- Unless you just invented a new product or service, your organization probably has plenty of competition and complements; find those websites you compete with, as well as websites you like (consider design, message, marketing, etc.) and don’t like and write why you like them and why not.
- Be clear on when you need the website to go live (specific date) and a budget you are working with. Giving a budget helps you and web designer save time, because some web designers have budget limits they work within so by proving your budget, it help the designer determine whether they can tackle your project or not.
- Also mention whom you wish to maintain your website after it goes live. Don’t be afraid to ask about things you are not sure about.
Prepare your website pages and content. If you know your website will have about 10 pages, write your content and have someone with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) experience edit the content.
This may sound like a lot of work, but writing your website content before launching the website will help and your web designer layout the website better and make things go much smoother and quicker.
Here is the list:
- List all the pages want to have in your website
- Write a basic description about each page
- Write each page’s content. Try to keep short as possible, but be very descriptive and precise as possible because you have little time to capture your website visitors’ attention before leaving.
- Determine if you want image/photo in each page and if so, give basic descriptions on the type of images you would like to see on each page.
Be understanding and anticipate delays. Not every web project delays and runs over budget, but if you factor in delays then you will not be caught off guard when they eventually happen. But you can eliminate the headaches and frustration by planning ahead (see above steps). A web development project typically involves work from both your developer AND you; understanding that your obligations to the project help or hinder the timeline are very important in making sure you stick to your goals.
Select a web company wisely. It’s true, not all web design and web companies are created equal. Most freelancers and companies will have a portfolio of websites they have done. Here are a few things you can look for while searching for a potential web designer, see if they have done any website that match your taste or something you like. You may even want to take it as far as calling companies in the portfolio and asking about the project whether they would recommend such a company.
- Do your homework about the company(ies) you have decided to bid for you project.
- Shop around, there are HUGE variations in price in this industry
Although this basic information is best suited for basic brochure website, you can apply the same techniques to a bigger web project. A well planned project is the best executed one because it saves everyone involves some headache at the end.