I often have small businesses and entrepreneur come to me wanting to start up or improve their website for their new business. However most of these people come to me totally unprepared, not knowing what they want, how they will market themselves on the web or even what content is going to be on their website.
Unfortunately this can really hold back the development time for a website. I can confidently quote a two week turnaround time on a website if everything is organized and submitted by my potential client. However, if this isn’t the case, which is more likely then not for most, it can drag the completion date on for weeks or even months because I am waiting on the client.
Preparing to develop the content and the positioning of your website is actually very simple if you take the correct steps. It can also be a lot of fun as you’ll discover new ways to market and expose your brand and business.
- Research! Get on the web and start pulling up websites that speak to you, whether they are in your industry or not. Then you and the web designer have some ideas to start from. You’ll want to find websites in each of these category:
- The look – Do you like the layout and look of the over all website; the colours and fonts of the website; the images on the website; the graphics, including buttons, icons, menu bars, etc.
- Website features – are there specific features on a website that you just have to have? An enews sign-up form? A calendar where others can book appointment with you? Maybe you want a member’s only area or a search feature or an e-store.
- Homepage Layout – the homepage is the most important page on your website because it’s the page that’s going to direct your traffic to your product or service. However if you put to much information on your homepage people will get lost. Look for websites that you feel are marketing their info effectively.
- Sub-page layout – brows through sub-pages as well. You don’t want all the pazas go into the homepage and then leave the sub-pages full of boring text. Find some sub-pages that you think may work for you.
- Create a web map – What is a web map? It’s a diagram or list showing the hierarchy of the pages you would like to have on you website. If you can give your web developer something like this they will love you forever. It will also help you organize your pages, your content and your website navigation. See the example for both a simple and a more complicated web map.
- Make a collection you brand materials – Collect all your branding materials, logos, photos and graphics in all formats you have used or are using for your business and submit them to the web designer right away, either on line, by email or by zip drive or disc. This way they can see how you are currently branding yourself and work it into the design and position of your website. Also, by giving your designer all your materials right away will speed up the design and development process and you’ll be able to avoid the constant emails asking for this logo or that picture.
- Write down how you want your site to function – This is Key, as so many clients have dove into wanting a website but not thought about how they may want it to function. This can be very pricy and add up if you’re constantly making additions. Look at other website and their features. Make a list of what features would work for your business and how. When you come to your designer You can both discuss the functionality and feature of your site, and avoid any surprises on both ends.
- Get a head start on content – Start writing down content for all the pages on your website. The homepage may be the most challenging, so I would suggest start with your sub-pages and then pull content form them to go onto the homepage. Lack of content is usually the one thing that will keep a site from being completed on time, and is totally out of the designers control.