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What happens once you commit to hiring a web designer to make your website? What things do you have to be aware of in order that a website project runs smoothly? It goes without saying that these are important things to know if you want to make the most of your investment.
A good designer will always start by explaining the process to you clearly, so you know what is expected and what you have to do. But to give you a head start, we’ve written the following guide to help you plan the tasks that lie ahead.
Domain and web hosting
Without these there is no website! Search for and buy your domain on hover.com and find a good web host. I love Siteground (affiliate link) because they offer very good value for money, free security certificates and their support is quick and reliable. It’s good practice to keep your domain and web hosting separate.
Logo and branding
This is where it all begins. Your logo and branding set the tone of your website, so it’s important to get it right, especially if the look and feel is important to you. That doesn’t mean it has to be tricky or elaborate. Sometimes simple is best and a well chosen typeface is all you need. Ask around people you know for recommendations, or support a local designer in your area that you can meet with. Find some examples of logos you like to inspire them.
Another important element is your colour scheme. In reality much of your site will be black, white or grey, but choosing one or two additional colours will further shape your brand and the look and feel. If your business is already established you likely already have this in some branding guidelines. If not, a branding specialist can help you develop this. If you’re looking for inspiration check out the fantastic https://coolors.co.
Think about what pages you feel the website should have. This is known as your ‘sitemap’. Different businesses will have different needs but perhaps a good start would be:
- About Me
- Page(s) describing your work and services
More complex businesses or projects might need to undergo some detailed analysis to establish the most appropriate sitemap.
Copy is crucial and where most projects get held up. Prioritise the homepage copy and really nail down what your core message and offer is. Once you’ve done this the other pages will follow.
There are lots of articles online about writing copy. Here’s one I recommend to start with:
Quality images really make a website shine. If your business has an emphasis on your personal brand it’s important to have some images taken by a professional photographer. Preferably not just a friend with a camera, but an actual pro. Though if you’re really on a budget your friend might have to do! Be sure to tell your photographer as much as you can about what the images are for. For example, perhaps you need an image for a homepage banner with lots of space on one side of the image to allow for text to be placed on top. Having a good range of quality images available will make your designer happy. There are many ways a creative designer can use images that perhaps you haven’t thought of.
Also consider using quality stock images on your website. Everyone uses free images from Unsplash and that’s fine because they can be good, but you want your website to be different so use a service like Adobe Stock to source quality unique images. PikWizard is another good source of free images.
Even if you don’t know how you might use email addresses in the future, collect them from the start anyway. Having a list can be a great way to help monetise your offerings later on.
If you’re on a budget create a free Mailchimp account and let your designer know the login details. If you already know you’ll want some advanced features or you’re aiming for big things, consider a service like Convert Kit or Active Campaign. At some stage you might want to consider creating something like a free eBook to offer visitors in exchange for their email. This also helps to establish you as an authority.
Updating your blog with regular content helps your search ranking and establishes credibility. Consider weekly articles to best do this. The articles do not have to be long, although occasionally you could publish more in-depth articles. 400 – 600 words is enough for most articles and means your readers don’t have to make a huge effort to absorb all you want to say. The important thing is to get regular, relevant and good quality content up. That way your website quickly becomes a great source of material.
If you will have social media accounts linked to your business, set them up and let your designer know the links.
Once your website is live you want to track how many visitors it’s getting and what pages they are visiting. Set up a google analytics account and let your designer know the UA code.
Covering all these bases provides you with a great foundation for any website project. Trust us – your designer will absolutely love you if you come to them with all this, and your project will run more smoothly.