When you embark on a website project, it may seem like you’re hiring someone to do all the things, but in reality, it’s a team effort. Your creative will need your input just as much as you’ll rely on them for their expertise.
If you’ve never gone through the web design process with a creative before then it’s important to know what you’re getting involved with before pulling the trigger.
Here are some things to keep in mind when embarking on a website, whether it’s a redesign or starting from scratch.
Your budget will determine how much time a designer/developer can spend on your website and the overall quality of the end product.
Expect to spend at least $2,000. It’s going to vary based on functionality and how the creative charges (project-based or hourly-based).
You’ll have to factor in additional costs beyond just hiring someone. You’ll be responsible for hosting (where the website lives) and a domain name (your website address) as well as possible:
Are there cheaper options out there? Of course, but remember a lower budget means something will be sacrificed, whether it’s features, quality of design/development, or time.
Realistically a good project takes at least three months. Some creatives claim they can do it in less time (like a 1-day intensive), but again, just like budget, something (features, quality, time) will be sacrificed.
Don’t rush the process. It’s important to note that not all creatives can start right away on your project. They might be booking out at least 4 weeks and/or have other projects they’re working on. If your website launch needs to coincide with a product launch or any other important milestone, it’s important to factor that into timeline as well as making sure you’re super organized.
Don’t drag out the process either. If your creative is meeting their deadlines and providing quick turnaround to keep the project moving, make sure you’re holding up your end of the deal too. For example, if your designer requests feedback within three days, don’t take two weeks.
Have an idea of what your must-have features are as well as your goals for your website. Important questions to ask yourself…
Whether you work with me or another creative, it’s important to have all these items ready to go in order to be organized and successful for your web design project.
Logo and branding are required prior to the start of my projects. It is crucial to have your branding and logo finalized before beginning on your website. Without branding/logo there is no design direction.
I’ve worked on a variety of projects over the years where there was no branding, so I had to come up with something on the fly. I’ve also worked on projects where branding was in development parallel to the website, and branding was completed before the website was started.
The most successful projects were those where the branding was completed prior to the start.
In fact, the creative process for brand/logo is very similar to that of a website, and it takes just as long if not longer to complete. That is why if you don’t have a logo/brand, I recommend doing that first and then do a website.
Part of your homework before we kick off your website is providing design inspiration.
While your website is primarily for your users (something very important to always keep in mind), your website is also a representation of you and your brand. That being said, come to the table with some websites that inspire you or that have a similar aesthetic to what you’re looking for (NOT that you want to copy).
I prefer clients come to me with at least three websites, noting what they like and what they dislike about them.
It’s also helpful to know who your competitors are, note what they’re doing right, what needs improvement, and what you can learn from them.
Content consists of written copy and any supporting media such as images, documents, and video. It’s also helpful to round up login credentials to any relevant 3rd party accounts such as social media, email marketing platform, etc.
All of this is required in final form no later than when the design phase begins. The sooner you start on your content, the better. It’s the biggest hurdle.
Copywriting and content creation are not included, so it will be up to you to provide your content or hire a copywriter to help. If a copywriter is not within budget but a client needs help crafting their message, I always recommend reading and going through Donald Miller’s Building a StoryBrand book.
How prepared you are for your project will ultimately determine how smooth the process goes. The more organized you are upfront the likelihood of delays and surprise costs decreases.
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The Lovely Geek is a one-woman studio based in Sacramento, CA working with small businesses throughout the United States.