In a previous blog post, What to Do Before Hiring a Web Designer, I talk about what steps you can take to prepare you, and help you find a designer. Now, we move on to what you can do to help the process go as smoothly as possible and get your site launched and working for you!
There are many different directions you could wander off in, but I’m here to help you get started in the right direction, so that your website doesn’t end up becoming just another ineffective blob of bandwidth lost in cyberspace.
Who is your customer?
While this topic was in the previous post, it bears repeating, because too many business owners want to build their site for themselves, instead of considering who their customer is. What age group are they? Will they be spending their extra cash on hand with you, or are they business people? Are they of a certain ethnic group? Are they country folk or city people?
All these things will play a big role in what type of site you design. If most of your clients are living in a big city, your site can probably contain a few more bells and whistles because they will most likely have a high speed internet connection. If they’re 100 miles from nowhere, they could still be on dial up and you don’t want them to have to wait 5 minutes to view your home page.
If your clients are retirees, your site will probably be a bit more on the conservative side. If you’re marketing teen age girls, the colors and elements will reflect that and appeal to them, not a 30-something suit and tie on Wall Street. Get the picture? All too often, I see clients wanting to build a site that they like – and that is important to a large degree – however….it’s not about you.
Know what you want
Again, mentioned in the previous post, but worth repeating. Do your homework and research other sites in your field. See what the competition is doing. Get inspired. You want to know what your competitors are up to, so that you can be more effective than they are.
Think about your color schemes. Find other sites that appeal to you and let your designer in on them so they can begin to get a feel for the type of aesthetic you prefer.
Supply good content
You’ve got your content organized, but what is the quality of that content? Does it really sell your product and compel people to work with you? Consider hiring a professional copywriter to get the most out of your content. Copywriters are very gifted and can “spin” plain words into gold and convince people that they need what you are selling.
Provide your content in a timely manner
Most design contracts require that content be submitted within a certain amount of time. This is done so that the work can progress and your site can be launched. And don’t be surprised if your contract states that failure to comply can result in more charges. If you fail to provide the content required to complete a site, you are delaying the designer’s paycheck. Your designer has put your project on the schedule, and possibly turned away other work to accommodate you, therefore you have a certain responsibility to meet those obligations. If not, you face the possibility of higher fees.
Be open minded
While you may like websites with music, your designer may advise against it, and you need to keep an open mind about what is good for your site. Your web designer wants your site to succeed every bit as much as you do, and they will give you current information about trends and design tactics that are potentially damaging to your site. While the decision is ultimately yours of course, give your designer the courtesy of listening to them and consider their advice. That’s why you hired a web designer in the first place, because you don’t have all the knowledge and expertise to do it yourself.
Be an educated, well informed client
While we, as designers, know that our clients are coming to us for that expertise, it is worth mentioning that the more educated our clients are, the better client/designer relationship we will have. As a designer, I strive to educate and inform my clients as much as possible, however there are just too many areas to cover.
Have you researched your SEO? Do you have a marketing plan? How exactly WILL you propel your site to the first page of Google? Is that something you expect your designer to do for you? Some designers can, and will, provide that service, however the majority of designers simply provide basic SEO, and SEO companies provide the rest. Which is why SEO companies charge in excess of $500 per month to make sure that your site gets where you expect it to go. And $500 per month is usually on the low end.
Don’t put unreasonable demands on your designer, that they are not prepared to carry out. Hopefully, during the process of researching and talking to various designers before you signed with one, you asked these questions and know what you are getting, and this won’t have to be hashed out while you’re trying to build your site.
And, this should go without saying, but I run across it all the time……read your contract! I am amazed at the number of people that will sign something without having read it first.
Understand things like internet marketing and copyright law, so that you don’t find yourself in a dispute with your designer later on, over things that you should have had detailed before you even started.
Invest in yourself
So, your website is built, it’s launched and it’s beautiful. The basic SEO has been done, you’re a social media blitz and things are going great. Now what?
Are you off to the Bahamas? Time to move on to other projects? Don’t think that just because the site is built that your work is done. Not by a long shot. To keep things rolling along, you have to be committed to doing the work necessary to keep it that way. That means tweaking the layout and copy, if necessary to make sure your visitors are converting into paying customers. That means adjusting keywords possibly, adding a page here, removing a page there.
“What?” you ask. “You mean I can’t just leave it be now and go on my merry way?”
Ignoring your website WILL make it go away. Your search engine rankings will drop, your traffic will die and eventually, so may your business.
The only way to keep the momentum going is to keep at it and make the commitment to make it happen. Don’t let the investment of time and money in your website go to waste, by not bothering to maintain and update it. That’s like building a gorgeous deck around your home and letting it rot because you don’t bother to treat it every year and protect it from the weather.
I have seen it many, many times…..people build a site, don’t touch it for a couple of years and then don’t understand why it’s not working for them and why they aren’t selling anything from it. Don’t let this happen to your site. In this day and age, if you’re in business, you can’t afford to NOT have a viable, productive, effective website.