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Starting a website? How To Be Prepared

how to start a website

Congratulations on taking steps toward designing your new website, exciting times are ahead indeed! Before you jump into the deep-end, be sure you’re ready, not only will some preparation help you understand the process and what you’ll need, but being prepared will show your web team how serious and pumped your organization is to get started. So before you hit send on that request for an estimate, here are a few things you might want to consider.

Who

Know who your customers are, or at least some basic information on who you want your customers to be. Having a leg up on this information will be a tremendous help when your design team starts their research. If you don’t know who your customers are but you’ve been in business for some time, looking at the history of your company sales can help you gauge the type of clientele you should target. If your a start up, do some homework to understand some basics such as, if your a regional business, define those regions. Or, if your selling a product, think about the types of customers most likely to buy, an example of this would be if your selling waterproof shoelaces, your customers might be runners, hikers, or people that work outdoors. Be sure to take notes throughout the process that you can share with your design team.

Figure out who on your team will be responsible for making decisions along the way. This is often overlooked, but it’s essential for keeping your project on task. If no single person is placed in charge of your project, the design team could waste a lot time getting answers to simple questions just by tracking down the right people to ask. It’s best to assign one, two, or a small team to collaborate with the design team.

Who does what? This is a pretty vague statement, a website design project has a lot of tasks, some of these might have to wait until after you discuss the project with your design team, but you should know that designing a website is very much a collaboration. It’s a designer responsibility to ask the right questions, but it’s important that you give the designer what they need too. Some questions you might hear from your design team related to who does what are;

  • Who will supply content, content strategy, and write the content?
  • Who will maintain the website after launch, adding content, images, case studies, etc.?
  • Who will host the website?
  • Who will be responsible for addressing future additions, and bugs?

What

A very important “what” is, what is your budget? Sharing your budget saves you and your design team a lot of time not having to guess. An analogy I recently heard that stuck with me that is similar to budgeting for a website was a car salesman asking a customer what he could afford, the customer did not share the information until after the salesmen spent hours showing him every car on the lot, only to find out the customers budget was less than any of the cars offered. With website design and development we have even more variables than a car dealership because we’re creating our work from scratch rather than picking what we like from a lot. Imagine not telling a car salesman what you could afford if he were building you a car from scratch? You’d literarily have to spend weeks, if not months going over specifics where as if you started with a budget the salesman could save you both time finding the best fit.

Even if you have no idea what a proper budget should be, it’s best to discuss ballparks before going to far.

When

Your project timeline can be tricky, it’s best not to set any rigid dates before you discuss possibilities with the design team. However, having some idea when and why a timeline exists is very important information to share. For example, if you’re planning to launch to coincide with the grand opening of a physical store, this information must be shared ahead of time.

Will your project be completed in one pass, or will you want to build it in phases?

Also, expect to set milestones for both your team and the design team. As stated previously, building a website is a collaboration, both your team and the design team will need to be able to commit to reaching their respective milestones to keep the project moving forward.

Milestones that tend to hold up web design projects for small businesses is supplying content, text and images. If your company will have to hire out services such as a writer, and or photography, be sure to factor their schedules in with timelines and communicate that with the design team as well.

Why

Why does your website need to exist? What are the goals of your project, or what does success look like? You may have several goals, defining these will help the design team build around them and help make suggestions on how you can measure the effectiveness. Your goals may be as simple as getting new customers to call you, but could also be more complex like selling products via eCommerce, or attracting users to sign up for a membership. Make a list of short-term and long-term goals, don’t worry about overdoing it here, not everything will make the final cut but it’s important to explore all the possibilities.

Where

Fortunately website design is location agnostic, meaning you can work with anyone in any place as long as your comfortable with the team and digital communication. The benefits are great as you can find the talent you need regardless of where they are in the world. However if you do prefer in-person meetings at some point in the project, it’s important to share this information with your design team. At MWH I’ve worked both with locally owned businesses, and for people outside the area that I’ve never met. I’m completely comfortable and ready to get to work either way, some advance notice of travel however is greatly appreciated.

So now that you’re prepared and ready to build your company an awesome new website, let’s get started! Please contact us today, you can use our form, and send an email with all your information to hello@mwhdesign.com. I look forward to hear from you!

MWH Design is a small design studio in upstate NY lead by owner / designer, Mike Hosier. Mike works with local and national small businesses, and organizations developing effective web media solutions.

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