You’re ready to launch or grow your business, and you know your website matters. You’re not going to mess around with DIY. You’re ready to hire somebody and get your website designed. Or are you?
Here are 5 things you can do to be ready to work with a web designer.
Understand Your Clients and Customers
Who your customers are and what they need will affect the look of your site. Consider two massage therapists. The one who caters to women who want to pamper themselves would have a very different design—different colors, fonts, images, flow—than one who caters to athletes who want to relax hard-worked muscles.
Understanding what you do and who you do it for matters in the design process.
Knowing who will buy from you will affect both your key words and copy, your color palette, your fonts, and other visual elements. You will be even more successful if you spend some time doing your customer research before you seek out a web designer.
When you and I work together during the introductory Discovery Phase of your project, I will pick your brain to try and unravel everything you already know about your current customer. If you’d like understand who the best people you work with and/or serve, I highly recommend the following resources:
I want to discover what makes you tick, or what ticks you off! It’s never to early to start collecting some images that will inspire your website design.
Pop over to Pinterest.com and create a new board. Name it anything you like, such as “<your business name> Website ideas”. You may also decide to make it a secret board, which you can do in the board’s settings when you create a new board. You can inevitably invite your web designer and developer to collaborate on the board too.
- color scheme
I encourage you to add comments to the Pin’s description field, or comment on the Pin to explain why you are pinning the image. Did you bookmark the image because of the color palette, or a specific color; do you love a particular font or the combination of fonts; do you want your website to have the same feature as another website you admire?
Here are some boards to find inspiration (but feel free to explore Pinterest to your heat’s content):
Two more tools I like to recommend for curating inspiration are:
- Stocksy: A beautiful stock photography site. You can bookmark images to your own “Gallery.”
- Creative Market: Fonts, photos, and graphics galore! You can save images to your own “Collections.”
The color scheme, layout, and flow affect the feel of your site. They show your personality and help people connect with you. Your designer isn’t going to make you a copycat site of one you pin, but your ideas can help them get a feel for what is appealing to you and what you want your site to do.
For a Professional Looking Website You Need Professional Photographs
For general images, there are a host of stock photography sites to draw from, but your customers want to see you. Don’t try cropping other people or backgrounds out of a photo of you or taking a selfie. If you are getting your website designed, it’s time for great photos of you.
Get a variety of shots—and please, please ask your photographer to include some wide shots, taken from a distance from you, not just close up head shots. Large featured images on websites are typically landscape (horizontal) photos rather than portrait (vertical), or square images. Oftentimes your designer will want to crop an image to be quite narrow dimensions, and if your photographer takes the photos up-close-and-personal, then you ultimately have less photos to choose and use in your website.
Keep your logo and the feel you want in mind when you choose what to wear for your photo shoot. You’ll want the pictures to fit visually with your brand and your logo. Take a look at the feminine logo and the bold colors in the photo on the health coaching page of Jennifer DeMaagd’s site. It works, but to be perfectly honest, in the very beginning stages of the design phase, I found it quite challenging to bring these elements together.
The absolute best sites that I have produced are the ones where the client came to me with beautiful photos – and a lot of them – in the very beginning, like Emily’s, Heather’s, Dana’s and Kristen’s sites.
(I’ll have more tips on working with a photographer in a later post.)
You Can’t Have A Website Without A Logo
Having a logo ready allows your web designer to create a site that works with the color and feel of your logo, so you will need to have your logo designed before your website layouts are mocked up.
Logos may be created by your web designer, but they are often created separately. If you are looking for a web designer and don’t have a logo, ask if they can recommend somebody. (You can ask me too). You will need to account for the time it takes to prepare a logo in your website project timeline. In my experience, graphic designers take four to six weeks on average to prepare your designs.
Once your logo is ready to go, be sure to ask for EPS versions of the logo. EPS simply means the logo can be scaled up to any size. With the rapid rise of retina screens, designers need to work with much higher resolution images that in the past.
Organize Now, Write Later
It may sound cliche to say that “Content is king,” but the fact is, it’s true. You can have the most beautiful website in the world but it your text is terrible, then you won’t be successful.
You don’t need to come to your web designer with your copy written and ready to go, (although they would probably give you the biggest virtual hug you’ve ever received for doing so)! You will, however, need to start getting your copy organized.
If you do want to work with a copywriter, you’ll need to plan for the time it will take to have the text ready by the time the website designs are ready to be coded. Copywriters typically take four to six weeks to prepare your content, plus you have to book into their schedule. If you need some fabulous copywriter recommendations, just ask me!
If you would like to write your copy yourself, but need a little direction, I highly recommend:
- Carrie Klassen’s workbooks: Loveable Home Page, Selling Sweetly, and Easy-Peasy About Page
- Tara Gentile’s Sales Page Quickstart (which can be applied to any page in your site, not just a sales page)
These are the key things I ask clients for before I start working with them. To summarize:
- Get to know your ideal clients
- Start researching website styles and features you love
- Get dolled up and hire a photographer
- Get to work with a copywriter, and a graphic designer at the outset
Knowing what you need to take care of before getting your website designed helps you move into the design process ready to move forward. Once you have the right pieces in place, you want the right designer to create your dream site. Would be a perfect match? Let’s see…