We work on a lot of website projects here at Argon and one obstacle we continuously encounter, when initiating work with a client on their website design project, is the lack of planning, or lack of understanding for the need of a plan. It is all well and good to decide your business needs a new website, and then assign someone to complete that task for you, but the work for you – the client – doesn’t end there!
Think of it in the same way as asking someone to build you a new kitchen – you don’t just have them around to give you a price and leave them to it! At the very least you need to convey your ideas (or even lack of ideas) and consult on decisions such as the layout, colours, materials, appliances, and amount of cupboard space!
It is equally as important that you plan out your website with a website designer before any designs are created. This is what we at Argon call the Strategy Phase, and it involves filling out a project brief, working with us to create a sitemap, and making sure we know about all of the features and functionality you require before we start layout planning & designs.
This can be a very overwhelming task to even think about getting started on, so here are some tips to help you help us build the best possible website for your business.
1. Set some goals for your website
What does your website need to achieve for you? Will it be an online store, are you trying to build a database, provide information to your clients, are you a small start up business who needs to present as an established and credible business? Really have a think about what you want from your website, and the kind of person you need it to reach – your target market.
2. Look around you
Spend some time looking around at other websites. What do your competitors do that works/doesn’t work well? Take note of websites in general when you are trawling the net – what do you find clever in functionality or features, what really annoys you, what appeals to you from a design point of view? This is all important information in getting some thoughts together in your own mind about what you want from your own website, and providing us with a picture of what is going to work for you.
3. Understand the process
There is a lot involved in a website design, and the best websites are developed following a process that first involves planning and content writing BEFORE design. It is all very well to say ‘I can’t write the content until I see what the site is going to look like’, but it is more important to understand that the purpose of a design is to present the content in the best possible way to achieve the end-goal. Thus implying that the end-goal and content are established first.
4. Consider engaging a Copywriter
Content is extremely important in websites – it works with the design & layout to achieve your goal, it needs to talk to your target market in a language they understand, and it works with Google to increase your search rankings. Working with a Copywriter can take your rough notes, scribbles and vague ideas and turn them into carefully crafted messages that pull the reader in and lead them through your site to the point that you want them to reach – signing up to your database to receive your free ‘how to’ guide, buying your products, or picking up the phone and calling you.
A new website is a business investment, so spending some time on the initial planning stages is essential in keeping the whole project on track for time, budget, and return-on-investment when your finished site starts working for you.