The questions to ask before embarking on the design or build of your website
Lots of start-ups and small businesses ask me to help them create a website. Quite often they’ve never embarked on a project like this before, or have no idea where to start.
The first thing I say is ‘be prepared’. Be prepared to answer the kind of questions you will get asked by a designer or developer. In other words, have a a brief.
Also, understanding a bit about basic web development, and some of the terms and processes involved is always a bonus.
You can find lots of examples of creative or technical web briefs online. Alternatively, take a look at my step-by-step guide to writing briefs in the blog I wrote for Watertight Marketing entitled ‘How to write a marketing brief in 10 simple steps‘ » It’s actually more general marketing brief guidance, but can be adapted for web development.
Ask yourself these questions and use this checklist to make sure you are thinking about everything you need before embarking on any web design or development.
1. Domain name/URL (web address)
2. Website Hosting (usually annual)
3. Hosted Email (uses your domain name)
4. Wireframing and Content
This is actually a big one. A lot of designers and developers will not start your project unless all this is agreed.
Chris also says that ‘somebody (you, a UX specialist or the website designer) needs to develop wireframes before beginning any design. Wireframing is a skill that will enable you to understand your content needs of your website, and how to structure the content to build effective user journeys’.
He also says ‘make sure your hosting includes an SSL certificate. These used to only be required for e-commerce but now browsers will flag your site as insecure without one, whether your site is transactional or not’.
5. Costs – make sure you have an idea of these:
The list actually goes on as websites are not like designing a printed brochure. There’s lots to think about (not least that little thing called ‘code’) – even for the most simplest of sites. And if you don’t have a logo, brand or any assets or imagery, it would be well worth working with a designer before you start, otherwise you website’s going to be pretty empty.
In all my years woking on websites, they’ve all start with at least a 12 week turn around time. And that’s just the small ones. Larger ones can take months, years and even longer if not planed for properly. So, I always recommend allowing for a decent up-front planning period. Patience is a must – you must plan. Sometimes you just need to slow down to speed up.
And finally, my last word of advice is to make sure before you start any web project that you understand where your website fits in your business plan and marketing strategy, and the measurement and metrics around it. What’s its objective? I’d go as far as saying if you don’t know you shouldn’t yet be working on your website.
You might end up re-doing it. I’ve seen that happen, so feel free to ask me why.
Thanks to Chris Turner at Bright Blue Kite for additional comments June 2022.
Helps small businesses stop wasting money on marketing. Watertight Marketing Certified Practitioner, MCIM Chartered Marketer and mentor.