Before you head off to a dealership you would research the type of car you are looking for. Before you buy a pet, you would look up the breed and find out as much as you can about the breeder. And before you look for a web designer, you should already have some thoughts in mind about your ideal website before you pick up the phone or press send on that email.
What is the purpose of your website?
In the most abstract way possible, a website is a way for a particular person or organisation to fill a specific need. If you are a business, that need might be:
- to sell products and services
- to establish yourself as an expert
- to generate leads
A community or special interest group will have a different set of objectives:
- to spread information about a shared interest
Write down the purpose of your site. And try to give at least five benefits someone might have from visiting and interacting with your website.
Who is your site aimed at?
I’ll talk about this more in an upcoming blog post, but who is your target visitor? If your purpose of your site is to extend your current business or activity into the online space, then you probably already have a good idea of your ideal client. The types of things you need to think about may include:
- their problems,
- their goals,
- their values.
Write down the characteristics of your target visitor so that your designer has a better idea of the style of site to aim for.
What sort of site would you like?
Great painters rely on painters and paintings that came before them. No painting is ever conceived and executed in isolation. It’s the same with websites, so one of the most productive things you can do is get out onto the internet and have a look at your website and your competitors’ websites. What do you like and dislike about them. With regards to style, what really shouts out at you as good design? If you can, provide your designer with half a dozen sites that you like, and just as importantly, some that you don’t like.
Always have an idea of a budget in mind when you are thinking about a new website. An online store is going to cost considerably more than a one page brochure, so be realistic.
What does success look like?
A tired phrase, but still relevant. How do you know that your website is a success? Is it to make a certain number of sales, to have a certain number of members, or to achieve a certain amount of advertising?
Your website designer is an expert in website design (hopefully!), and not an expert in your business sector. But they don’t need to be. Any designer worth their salt will not spend the first discovery meeting only talking about technology. Although it will be mentioned, the meeting will be more about getting to know you and your plans for your site. You will be able to talk to them with confidence if you give yourself just half an hour to pull your thoughts together.