So you’re thinking about a new website – or perhaps you’re considering re-designing your existing one. Submitting a quote to a web designer and working with him or her establish the requirements of your site can be perplexing, especially if you’re not overly familiar with the technicalities of the Internet. To help you write a brief for your new website I’m going to outline a few points for you to consider.
If the following information confuses you, don’t panic! Any good web designer will be able to take you through the whole process pain-free. If you’d like to talk to me about your website regardless of whether you read this blog or not then call me on 07843 483 078 or get a free quote online.
The rationale for the website
First of all, why do you want a new website or a website redesign? People generally ask, how much will my website cost me? The simple answer is, it shouldn’t cost you anything; it should be paid for by your customers, not you. A website shouldn’t be created for the sake of it, rather, it should bring value to your business. Most websites should do one, some or all of the following:
1. Give you online credibility
2. Serve as a reference point
3. Sell products online
4. Generate sales leads
5. Generate revenue through online advertising
As long as you’ve used a decent web company you should at least get a site that gives some online credibility but hopefully it will help your business in one of the other areas too. Sometimes people submit quotes to me because they want a website but don’t quite know why. Think carefully about how the site will help you make money before committing to anything. If the site doesn’t make your money back in a relatively short space of time it’s probably not worth commissioning.
Logo and branding
Do you have a logo for your site? Do you have any branding? Logo design and branding – although both falling under the graphic design umbrella – are actually different disciplines. If you have no logo / branding this needs to be considered during the early stages of your site design. While I am solely a web designer, I do have connections with a number of excellent logo designers who can assist at this stage.
The look and feel of the site
Following on from the branding comes the actual look and feel of the site. At this stage it’s useful to send your prospective web designer links to websites that you like. It’s also just as useful for a web designer to see sites that you don’t like.
The content of the site
How many pages do you want? Do you need to be able to update the pages yourself? Sites that have ‘static’ content – text and images that are always the same or are updated infrequently – take a lot less time to develop than ‘dynamic’ content – content you can update yourself.
Search engine optimisation requirements
Do you need to be visible on the search engines? If so, what words would you expect potential customers to type in to find your website? Despite what some people may think, search engine optimisation (SEO) needs to be built into your site from the outset; it is not something you can plug in afterwards (well you can but it takes a lot more time).
Do you need to sell your products online? eCommerce is a very broad subject in itself; there are many ways to trade online. If you have a business bank account it is likely you can obtain an Internet Merchant Account (IMA) number and take money online so that is goes straight into your account. If you don’t have such an account or are running your business from a personal bank account, you can still take money online but you need to use a third party payment processor – a company that takes money on your behalf (e.g. PayPal). If you do have an IMA you also have to decide if you wish to take the responsibility of taking debit and credit card information on your own site. There is a right and wrong solution for every business and the one which is right for you depends on the size of your business and its products.
Text and images
You’ll need text and images for your website. I find that getting copy (or text) for websites is without a doubt the most common reason a website is launched late. Writing content for your site sounds easy but give it a go – it’s harder than you think. Allow good time for this or ask your web designer for help on how to write good web content.
A domain name is the name you see in the address bar of your browser when you visit a site (e.g. www.texelate.co.uk). If you don’t have a domain name already you will need to register one; they are very inexpensive (just a few pounds per year). If you are unsure on how to do this or would prefer not to do it yourself then any good web designer can do it on your behalf.
A website is physically ‘hosted’ on a server somewhere. To host a website securely and effectively is quite a complicated matter in its own right so it’s best to pay a company to do it for you. You may have hosting already and you may even have been given hosting as part of your domain registration. If you don’t or are unsure, again, any good web designer can sort your hosting out for you.
When does it need completing for? As you can see there is a lot to consider so it’s best for you and the web designer to come up with a realistic deadline.
And finally we have the unpleasant matter of the bill. I will emphasize again the point that unless you get a good return on your investment don’t bother commissioning it. If money is tight talk to your web designer and let him or her know your budget so they can help you make the most of it. I price all jobs individually and so don’t put prices on my website but can give you a ballpark price once you request a free quote online.
So as you can see there is more to a website than meets the eye – but don’t worry if you’re puzzled by it all. I can help you with your new site; call me on 07843 483 078 or get a free quote online.