Your web site is one of the most important parts of running your own business, and a good web designer will know how to help you build it. But, when you add something new to fancy up your business, you usually have a plan, right? Your web site is one of the most important investments you’re going to make, and you want to make sure it looks, feels, and works the way that fits you.
When you connect up with your future webmaster, you’ll need to know a few things about what you want before you start. These are just a few things you’ll want to think about:
What does my business look like on the web?
This is the time to look back at your mission statement, or look at the things that are special about what you do and how you do it. Think about the personality of your business. If you have a logo or business card that you love, grab that and bring it with you. Or, you can brainstorm words that describe your business, gather some links to web sites that inspire you, or even choose a few colors that fit–as long as it looks and feels like you and your work!
Who am I trying to reach?
Hopefully, you already have a pretty good idea of who your customers and clients are, so think about them. What do they love about your business? What are they interested in? Are they internet-savvy? Are they professionals, like you? Get at least a ballpark idea of things like gender, age groups, lifestyles, etc.
Do I want to maintain it myself?
If you’re having to update what’s on your web site frequently, you may or may not want to hire a webmaster to do it. Hiring a webmaster can make it easy for you to hand off your web maintenance, and focus on the other parts of your business where you’re the expert. On the other hand, if you’re making small, simple changes on a near-daily basis, hiring a webmaster could get expensive, and could also become a bottleneck that makes your web updates fall behind.
If you have a blog that you post to regularly, or want to make your own simple web site updates, your web designer should be able to hook you up with WordPress, or another content management system that lets you do your blogging quickly and easily. Personally, I also like to sit down with my clients and walk them through how to make updates, if they want some guidance. Not every web designer will want to do that, though, so if you want a walkthrough, ask about it!
What’s going to be on my web site?
This is a big one: before you can build a web site, you need to know what’s going to be on it! Think about what information your clients will come to your web site for, and what will entice them to keep looking at it.
You’ll also want to think about how to organize everything; you won’t want to overwhelm potential customers with a navigation bar full of links to every single page. I usually make suggestions to clients on how they can group information together in a way that makes it easy to navigate, but you can do that work, too, if you have a good idea of what content pieces make the most sense together.
Make a quick outline that maps out what’s on your site, and note any special features or functionality you’ll need on a given section. You’ll end up with something kind of like this:
- Homepage ++Slideshow
- Shop Online ++Online Store
- Contact ++Online Form
More than anything, if you have questions, write them down and don’t be afraid to ask them up-front! Sharing your thoughts, ideas, and concerns with your web designer early on will help your designer do the job more smoothly, and it’ll give you a better picture of what’s ahead.