Website Design: Consultation Preparation 101

Everything You Need to Know & Prepare Before Meeting with Your Web Designer

 

Whether you’re new to the website design and/or redesign process, or it’s just old hat to you, it’s best to get started ahead of time. And we mean even before your consultation with the designer.  It starts with knowing what you want. How is the designer going to know what you want, if you don’t even know yourself? Plus, there is a ton of work that goes into it and you want this process to be as smooth and painless as possible. Not only that, but make sure you are hiring the designer that can best represent the trifecta: you, your brand, and your business. So, what do you need to do on your end to ensure all of this? Well, first things first:

 

Examples

 

Start out by looking at different websites, designs, and color schemes. Even those belonging to your competitors. Find out what calls to you, the good and the bad. Determine what you like and don’t like. As well as determine what would work best for you, your brand, and your business. Make note of all that and form it into a list, and don’t forget the links to any website you want to use as an example. Will the color schemes match your branding (if you already have branding)? Do the design(s) and theme(s) say what you want to convey to your audience?

 

Branding

 

Whether you’re new to the process, or already have your branding laid out, this is another key to the web design process. Not only is branding about your logos, brand colors, and how you define your company but, also your reputation and how you’re perceived. You need to be 100% upfront and realistic with the designer so that they can know exactly which steps they need to take. What type of company are you? How does your market view you and your company? If you already have the branding, do you want to change it or keep it the same? If you don’t, do you have an idea of what you want? You want to show all of this to the designer, so they can ensure the design of the website matches and improves your branding. And, if you already have the branding, that will help make the process smoother. If you don’t, that’s perfectly OK, it will just take a few extra steps in the process. Just keep in mind, just like with the design of the website, it will help the designer if you have an idea of what you want to do for your branding.

 

If you have the following, make sure you bring it to the meeting: your company style guide, digital copies of your logo (preferably in a vector file), and any other publications and/or marketing materials related to and that show your brand. Your company branding, and the web design, go hand in hand. If applicable, ensure you bring only the official version of your logo with the appropriate trademarks. If you don’t have the trademarks, you’ll want to make sure you get them ASAP. Unsure why trademarks are important? There’s plenty of materials that explain why but, let’s just say you don’t want someone else to be able to take advantage of your brand using the same or a similar logo without them.

 

Goals, Objectives, & Defining Your Company

 

Knowing your goals and objectives, as well as having your company defined, and laying it out for the designer is major help to the process also. And you really want to put some thought into all we are about to lay out for you. It will help your designer to come up with ideas and designs that meet all of this.

  • What do you want your site to accomplish for you?
  • What is the most important thing you need to communicate?
  • What pieces of content do you want most visitors to see?
  • What action(s) do you want your visitors to take at the end of the day?
  • Can you define your company in 1 sentence? How about 2?
  • Do you cater to a specific niche? Or do you cover a wide range of services?
  • What do you not do?
  • What does success look like to you?
  • How will you know if you’re happy with the new site?
  • How does it fit into the overall plan for your business?
  • What is your ideal buyer persona(s)?
  • What will best reflect your customers’ objectives and interests?
  • And lastly, define your target audience.

 

The more detailed you are, the better. It will help you convey to and communicate with the designer your needs, so they can take it all into account in the design(s). Certain small elements will change in the designs to cater to the details you provide. And while they may be subtle changes, they can be imperative at times. Basically, the more detailed and specific you are, the better the understanding your designer will have. And the more accurate will be the solutions to cater to your specific, unique company.

 

Lay Out the Scope and Small Details

 

While your designer can go through and help you with this part during your consultation, you still want to at least have a general idea of the basics ahead of time. Below is a short list to help you get started:

  • Number of landing pages needed for your website. (i.e. Home Page, About Us, Contact Us Page, Product Pages, etc.)
  • Are there any custom pages or features you want your site to have?
  • What are your competitors doing?
  • Who will be our contact(s) for the project?
  • Have all the links to your social media site profiles ready if you wan them accessible from your new site.
  • Contact info you would like in the contact information section. (i.e. address [if applicable], phone number, email addresses, etc.)
  • Do you have an existing domain? Is it registered somewhere else? Do you want to move the registration to our provider? Will you be able to provide the login information after the contract is signed?
  • How is your email and email system currently configured?
  • Who will be providing the content? You, the designer, or both?
  • Will you be able to provide any pics? Do you want the designer to make custom ones?
  • Do you want a custom-built web design? Or do you want a website template?

 

Record as much of this as you can before your consultation. Not only will it help your designer, but help the process be smoother and more efficient in the long run.

 

Overall Budget, Time Frame, & Launch Date

 

Dependent on the complexity of the website, how long it takes for it to be built varies. And as you’ve probably already guessed; the more complex the site, the longer it takes. Keep in mind too, a simple website can take 4 – 6 weeks to be built on its own. Hence why it’s important to know the time frame and launch date you have in mind. Figure out how much time you have before the launch date as urgency is a highly important consideration in the web design process. It helps the designer to know so they can determine if the project can be completed on time or, if they will need to do the project in stages as the time required to complete will surpass the launch date. They will be able to present you different options for you to decide route that’s best for you and your company that can work the project from either way.

 

You’ll also want to have an overall budget in mind for the project. Know what you can afford to put into the creation of your website. Just like with the complexity of and time it takes to build a website, whether you go with a custom web design or use a website template, the customization plays a role in the cost. And the more customization, the higher the cost. We recommend doing your own research to determine which is right for you and your brand. And while you don’t have to tell your designer your budget, it is recommended. This way they can work around your budget and still accomplish your vision. Don’t forget to consider hidden costs in pricing your website project, as there are web design companies that fail to inform you about things, such as marketing costs. As well as, the cost(s) of lost opportunities.

 

Questions for the Designer

 

Lastly, you’ll want to prepare your own questions that you will have for the designer. With so many different web design companies out there, you want to make sure of a few things. Not only if you are a good fit for them but are they a good fit for you? You want to make sure they know their stuff as well. Quality my friend, quality. Trust us when we say having a quality website will go a lot farther for you in the long run. And not every web design firm will have your best interests at heart. Not only that, but not all of them can/will give you the quality you’re looking for and claim they will give you. While you can, add more questions of your own. Here are a few basic ones to determine if your designer is up to snuff:

  • What services do they offer?
  • Do they have a portfolio that has examples of their previous work?
  • Will they review and analyze your current website and its performance before making design decisions? Did they do this before the consultation?
  • How much input will you have on your website design?
  • What will they need from you to get started?
  • Will you be able to view the website as it’s being created?
  • Will the functionality of your website be tested before going live?
  • Will your website be compatible with smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices?
  • What web standards and practices do they follow?
  • Will you own the website once it’s complete?
  • Who owns the site’s artwork?
  • What is their content management system?
  • Etc.

 

Having this information clear and laid out prior to the consultation will help the designer create a development scope and web-based solution that will meet your goals, brand, and vision. Not only that but, explore all the possibilities for your web design project. Remember, you are a key member of your website design team. And the design consultation is just the first step.