When you decide to have a new website – or to give your current site a serious overhaul it’s easy to overlook the complexity of what this means. This is why asking a web designer to deliver a finished site in two or three weeks is a huge ask.
There a number of different aspects to building a website:
What do you want it to do for you?
Having a clear purpose makes it easier to ensure that the finished site will do what you want it to.
What do you want it to look like?
Don’t give your web designer a blank sheet – you’re setting them up to fail. Whether you choose a template you like and your designer modifies it or you give your designer a list of sites you like – with details of the elements you like on each site – they’ll need somewhere to start from.
What pages will your site need?
Whether you put together the site map or your web designer does it, you’ll need to try and think like the website visitor. What will they want to know? How can you make it easy for them to find that information out?
What images will best represent your organisation?
There are plenty of stock photo sites where images can be purchased – although you are only buying the licence to use those images – not exclusive use of them. Alternatively you may need to get your own photos taken – so allow time for booking the shoot, getting the images for review and choosing the ones you want. It’s always a good move to go into a photo shoot with a list of images you need – and for which pages.
Who will write the content?
Web designers don’t necessarily have a professional copywriter on board. They may expect you to write the content and provide it – and unless you do so your site cannot be completed. Alternatively, it’s wise to engage a commercial copywriter who knows how to craft your message to engage the visitors to your site. This also needs to be incorporated into your timeline.
Who will manage your project?
This may be someone in-house or it may be an account executive at the design company. Ideally a clear plan with deadlines and responsibilities should be drawn up first to ensure that whoever is the project manager knows where the goal posts are!
Who does what?
The web designer: creates the look and feel to make the site attractive. They’re the ones that will be nagging you for images or sending you suggestions to approve.
Front end developer: makes the user interface work so that when the visitor wants to do something the site does what they are expecting it to do. They should be running user tests to ensure that functionality responds as it should. They’ll also be on your case about providing copy.
Back end developer: works on the behind the scenes aspects, particularly where a site has other functions like a database or shopping cart involved. They don’t usually let these people talk to the client – they speak a different language!
Of course, you may not be building a new website – but the same kind of structure applies when you’re getting an App developed too.