Ok, you’ve decided you want to hire a web designer – but you’re unsure of what you will need. This article will give you 4 ways you can help your web designer build you a great website that will work hard for your business and get a running start on your project.
1. UNDERSTAND THE OBJECTIVES OF YOUR NEW WEBSITE
You may already have a vague, or even a clear idea of what you want your website to achieve for your business. This is important. Without any clear goals, your web designer cannot effectively create a design which will benefit to your business, as this will form the building blocks of your user experience (UX). Your web designer can help you decide what your objectives are.
You know you need a website – but WHY?
If you’re unsure, decide what the ultimate aim of your website will be. This could be something broad like increase sales or raise money.
How will your new website achieve this? Your type of business will determine the best outcome, so set a primary goal that will help you in achieving the above. What do you want users who come to your site to do?
Your primary goal could be something like:
- Fill in a quote request
- Call your company
- Buy your products online
- Book an appointment
- Complete a contact enquiry
- Create an online account
- Make an online donation
- Sign up for a membership
- Book a class at a gym or a table at a restaurant etc etc
Of course not everyone who visits your site will do exactly what you want them to do (Wouldn’t that be nice!). So what would be the second or third best interaction they could do with your website? This could be one of the above or:
- Sign up for a newsletter
- Download a brochure
- Share on social media
If your users leave your website without any interactions, what additional goals do you want to accomplish?
- Inform clients of your products/services
- Build your brand
- Become a resource
- Communicate a certain message
- Showcase your work
- Increase awareness
- Create a certain impression of your business
- Educate users
- Provide the latest news
What message do you want your customers to go away with when they leave your site? Do you want to give a certain impression of your business? What information do you want them to get from your website? This will help piece together your content.
These can motivate the user to return to your site, increasing the chances of completing interactions on your website.
Remember, these need to be specific to YOUR BUSINESS. So take some time to think about what objectives will be most beneficial to you.
How this can help your web designer
The more you know what you want to accomplish with your website, the more your web designer will understand your company and its objectives and this will be reflected in the visual design and user experience.
ACTIONS: Finding your new website’s objectives
- List 1 primary goal and around 2/3 secondary goals of your new website
- List around 5/6 broader aims
- Liaise with your web designer if you are unsure
2. WHO ARE YOUR CUSTOMERS?
One of the first things your web designer will need to know is who your perfect customer or client is. Without this, your designer will be designing your site blind and a site which blankets everyone with the same marketing message, may attract no one, simply because it doesn’t apply to them.
Determine what needs your product or service fulfills
Take a look at what you are offering and think about who would benefit and be perfect for your products or services. A recent university graduate and someone who has been working 30 years might well choose to spend their disposable income on different things. A clothing retailer that sells £10 clothing compared with £500 clothing will have a different target market.
Take a look at your existing customers
What is their buying power or marital status. What sites might they visit? Are you selling to business or consumers? What devices might they be using to view your website? Any information you have can only build a more detailed picture of who you should be targeting.
This information will translate to how your web designer designs your website. For instance, if you sell highly technical products, slideshows and animations will be far less successful than technical specifications, bullet points and accessible technical drawings or information.
How this can help your web designer
Once you know who you are targeting, your web designer can build a focused plan around that picture so your site can effectively be optimised and marketed to your audience. Consequently, you are more likely to generate goals from taking the time to consider your target market.
ACTIONS: Discovering your target market
- Determine what needs your product fulfils
- List traits of both your typical and perfect customers
- If you can, obtain data about your customers through demographic surveys which will help you arrive at a more focused target market
3. YOUR WEBSITE’S CONTENT
Your web designer can assist you on the content of your website and how best to optimise it for your users and search engine optimisation (SEO). However, you know your business so take some time to think about what you actually want to go on your site. The website goals you set will largely drive the direction of your content.
You may have come across the phrase “content is king”. Well it really is. The short attention span of online users means this content must capture them to keep them engaged – they won’t be happy reading through a long introduction of your company. Time is valuable.
Keeping content relevant can help your SEO (search engine optimisation), encourage engagement, increase traffic and generate sales. A beautifully designed website won’t achieve very much if the content is irrelevant or simply isn’t there.
So what should you have on your site?
Your content should focus on two primary areas:
Your customers – Firstly, what are your customers looking to find, achieve or accomplish on your website? This could be different from desktop users to mobile users. What is your most popular product? Consider making this easy for users to access on your site.
Your business – What you want your customer to do, read, find or accomplish on your website? This will help you achieve your website’s objectives. What is your most profitable product? Do you have a new product or range you want to sell? You could also consider promoting these on your site.
Structure – What will your website’s structure be? At a minimum you will have a homepage and probably a contact page. Decide what other web pages are essential to your website. Perhaps product or service pages or an about page will be beneficial. Maybe your website would work great simply as a one page website. Ask your web designer to advise on this.
Copy – Decide if you will write the copy for your website yourself, or if you plan to hire a professional copywriter. A copywriter can ensure the text is all of a high quality, persuasive text and is a great time saver for yourself. However, if you plan to write the copy yourself here are a few tips on making your copy work best.
- Include keywords in your copy as Google will read read this to determine what searches you should appear on. More information on keywords can be found here.
- Use clear, accessible language.
- Don’t exhaust users with too much text – keep your message focused and break it up with headers, bullet points etc. People respond best to short descriptions with images.
Imagery – High quality images and photography of your company really showcase your company and are unique to you. A professional photographer will have the training experience to ensure you get the right quality. Liaise with your web designer to find out what would work best on the site. Stock images can be an alternative and your web designer can help you with where to look for the best (non cheesy!) stock images. Bear in mind, stock images may appear on other websites.
How this can help your web designer
Providing high quality content not only makes the job much easier for your web designer but it ultimately will provide the best experience for your users.
Clients often want their website within a tight timeframe, however delays are often caused by lack of content. Having these ready will speed up work for your web designer and get your site live more quickly.
ACTIONS: Deciding on your content
- Think about what web pages your website will require and liaise with your web designer to come up with a planned structure
- Decide on who will write the copy for the website and beginning putting this in place
- Collect and organise your best photography, speak to your web designer about where to source stock imagery or hire a photographer to take new high quality images
4. LOOK AND FEEL
The look and feel of your website should be inline with your company. What message do you want your website to communicate? Or what impression do you want your user to get of your business? Fun? Professional? Affordable?
If you already have branding for your company, the design of your site will have to reflect this – whether it be colours, a logo or fonts. Or you may decide you want to revamp your branding in line with your new website.
Spend time looking at other sites – both in your industry and outside your industry this will give you a feel for what kind of style you like and want to communicate, and identify what designs fit with your brand and objectives. Take advice from your web designer on what could work for your business.
How this can help your web designer
If your web designer knows what kind of things you like or more importantly, don’t like and they can design your website in line with your preferences.
ACTIONS: Finding the look and feel of your website
- Decide what impression of your business you want to communicate
- Spend time looking at different websites to get an idea of the things you do and don’t like and list both
To Sum Up…
Building a new website is a collaborative process. Your web designer is there to advise on how your website can help your business, while you know your business better than anyone, you can give them the necessary tools to begin making a site that fits in exactly with your needs. If they have a clear understanding of
- Your business, your business goals and how your new website will fit in with these
- The market you want to be targeting with your website
- The content that you want and need to include and access to content
- The look and feel you wish to depict
They are best placed to really give you the very best end result that will work hard to achieve what it needs for your business.