Starting your web design project
A web design project- whether starting from scratch or redesigning an existing website- can be a significant undertaking for any business owner or communication team. There are many factors to consider before pulling the trigger on a project of this scale, and some considerations that you can make up front that will save you time and money in the long run.
Before any website design project, it’s important to develop your logo and branding. This informs the way you are consistently represented in the world, your website being just one facet of that. Also, get clear on your business goals and the unique value proposition you bring to your audience. This is crucial for ensuring your website is accurate and effective.
Step 1: Explore why you need a website
It’s important to consider what the primary purpose of your website is and what features you’ll need to include to fulfill that purpose. This will help determine your priorities and budget for platform selection. Keep in mind: there is no one-size fits all solution. There are a multitude of content management systems available based on accessibility and complexity needs.
- Consider your communication and marketing needs. Do you have a communication strategy and plan in place that will keep the content on your website fresh and interesting? What will inspire your audience to visit and revisit your website?
- Consider your sales needs. How will you sell your product or service? If you’re selling a product, do you have a plan to keep track of inventory or shipping? How will you manage customer or member payments and transactions?
- Consider your audience management needs. How will you manage your customer or member relationships? Will some content require premium access? How do you want to integrate your website audience with your other online communities?
Step 2: Ask yourself what features you can’t live without
Create a list of the features you want that need to be functional upon your new website’s launch. Find examples of other websites that have the look and functionality that you want to share with your website project team for visual reference and understanding. Approach a few web design companies for proposals to validate if the feature set you need and your budget are feasible. Once you’ve selected a web design company to work with, you can create a site map outline together to ensure you are on the same page.
Step 3: Take an inventory of your existing content
Create a list of all the content you’ll need for your new website (ex. Logo files, brand style guide, photos, video, pdfs, text, etc.). Your web design team can likely help you with this. Move everything you have into a designated shareable folder. If you are missing content, book a content session to get the media you need or hire a copywriter to get the new text just right.
Step 4: Assess the project plan
Review your project plan and timelines with your web design team. If you need more time or want something to take less time, now’s the time to see if there’s room to negotiate. Implement project milestone dates and review deadlines with your team to ensure you stay on task and on budget. Remember that unnecessary iterations cost the team time and you money. Be clear and concise about the direction you give them.
Leverage the strengths of your web design team. They’ve (hopefully) been doing this for some time and have a lot of valuable recommendations on why you’d want to follow certain processes and directions during the website design and development. Stick to your vision, but don’t get in the way of letting your team do what they do best.
Step 5: Plan for growth
Your website is a living, growing project that continues to reflect on what you’re doing and where you’re going for years. Good, new content keeps your audience coming back, they’ll be invested in working with you for the long haul. Plan your budget to include content updates after the website design or redesign project is complete. This is key to long-term success in audience engagement, sales, community growth, and brand awareness.
Our recommendation is to invest this time and energy up front, before starting or at the very beginning of your web design project, for a quick and *almost* painless process!
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