Note: this is mainly for the home/small business as there are typically many more factors involved with medium-big business websites. However, many of the concepts will still work for any web improvement effort.
So it’s time for a change to your website? Launching a new company so now need a new website? Starting your consulting company and need a web presence?
Here are some questions to ask yourself/group before you embark on the project:
- What is my budget?
The quicker you can assess this amount or range, the quicker you’ll get some answers and clear direction. Budget is always a tricky thing because many are hoping that since they are starting their business online it will be cheap/free to have a web presence. While there are some options for that, think of this instead: you dress for the job you want. In reference to a your web design project, the amount of time (aka money) you put into your website will directly reflect on the quality of your company’s web presence. This isn’t to say you should over-spend, but adjust your perspective as to the fact that this is your store-front. If you want to open a brick-n-mortar store, you’ll easily spend $100k+ for that endeavor. Don’t short sell on design for your web presence. If you’re not willing to pay $3000 – $5000+ for a custom designed website, then say that. Everyone has a price pain threshold, just be up-front with that and you (and the web design company) will have a great experience!
- What is my time-frame?
Are there any big events coming up that a new website would help promote? Do you have the time to devote to reviewing/approving a website re-design? Is your copy/text/plan already in place? Are the other stake-holders on board to give full attention to this process? For many, they focus on budget and ‘wanting something new/cool’ but haven’t really thought through the time needed to make something happen. Yes, you will more than likely have a professional helping you with the project in terms of creating the design and building out the site, but there is a lot that is required by you to make the project successful. Make sure you have the time set aside in your schedule and as a result you will have an exceptional experience in the process.
- Do I/we know what I/we want?
This is a biggie. Having a general idea of ‘I’ll know what I want when I see it’ or ‘We really don’t like our website’ is not really enough. That helps with the initial motivation, but there are a few things you can do to get prepared for a successful project:
- Find a list of 3-5 websites that you like. Detail what you like and possible (and sometimes even better) what you don’t like.
- Clearly define your target audience. This is a actually a big deal. Many times people design their website to their preferences and their vision. If you’re going through the trouble of bringing in an outside company the added bonus is that you get some fresh perspectives and some new visions. Don’t just reject a design because it’s not ‘your thing’, make sure you have the vision of your desired customer and then match that with the right design.
- If there is something specific you want in the area of custom development (unique functionality, database interactions, shiny/flashy stuff) having a clear vision of what you hope the user experience will be like is essential to getting your vision communicated.
- Am I ready to start?
A typical web design/re-design project can take anywhere from 4-8 weeks+. The ‘+’ is determined typically by how ready you are to move through the process. You can expect weekly deliverables and sign-offs. Any delay in those sign-offs and the project gets pushed out. If you’re entering a traveling season with your company where members of the approval team will be out of pocket, it might be better to wait. Or at least make sure the communication is clear and the expectation is in place so that the project isn’t held up by one guy/girl who is out of the picture. If it’s up to you to decide, are you really ready to put in the time to make this project successful? Guaranteed your web company is going to be eager to get things moving as they will have resources assigned. You can crank through the process if you really want. If they give you 3-4 days for a sign-off, take 1. You will then see the project go from 6-8 weeks to 3-4 weeks.
These are just a few simple points to consider and guaranteed there are others that you can freely add to the comments section. However, when it comes to website design/re-design, if you can take a few minutes to at least cover the 4 points I’ve listed, your experience will be much smoother and best of all, the finished product will more than likely exceed your expectation!