Get a head start in the web design process of your business website

Things you can do before approaching a web designer to help the web design process along and get a head start in launching the project.

A dear client of mine is a great believer in educating his customers so that when they come to him they are well informed and know exactly what they want. In the same spirit here are some ideas for what you can do or plan before you approach a web designer. Some of these are pretty straight forward but are neglected.

Create a rough sitemap - it's not as difficult as it sounds. It gives you clarity about what you want in the website and indicates the scope of the project to the web designer.

A sitemap is simply a list of all the pages and links you want included in the website. It's like the index of a book which tells you what is in it. Obviously it has to be rough and you can work on it further with the web designer. Spare some time to sit without disturbances and type out the sitemap in a bulleted list form.

Example of how a sitemap would look:

  • Homepage
  • About Us
    • Company Profile
    • History
    • Management
    • Facilities
    • Awards & Certifications
  • Products
    • List Individual products or categories
  • Services
    • List individual services or categories
  • Pressroom
  • News & Updates
  • Resources
  • Enquiry Form
  • Contact us

Collect all possible information you have about your business in other formats such as photos, brochures, videos, logos etc.

You can save a lot of time by collecting and collating information about your business which is in other formats. This could help the designer to get to know your company better as well as get a better idea of your taste. Make sure you have all possible photos of your company, office, factory, products etc. sorted. Photos are immensely useful in a web design project.

If you are getting your site redesigned find out all the information about your current web hosting provider.

For a web designer to understand which technology to implement he has to know what platform your current site is built on. You will need to contact your hosting company to find out all these details. If possible you should know this by heart.

Some of the things you need to know:

  • Where is the domain registered: Name of the registrar
  • Where is the site hosted: Hosting Company Name
  • Server type: Linux or Windows
  • Amount of space in MBs or GBs: 1 GB, 100 Mb etc
  • Programming Language used: PHP, JSP, ASP or Java.
  • Database used (if any): MSSQL, MySQL or PostGRESQL
  • Email system used: On the hosting server or third party (like Google Apps)
  • Any Flash elements on the site: Do you have the source code.

Of course your web designer will ask for whatever he/she needs but it's a good idea to be prepared to save time.

Create a list of benchmark sites you like. This will give the web designer an idea of your tastes.

Browse a bit and short list a number of sites which you liked. They need not be in the same industry as yours. Note what you liked about them and whether that will make sense in your context. This will also give you an idea of the quality of contemporary websites and give you a benchmark to work towards. Note the colors you liked or the way a menu was shown.

Request a questionnaire from the web designer before your first meeting so that both of you are prepared.

Many web design companies have questionnaires which gives them an idea about what's on your mind (although we don't use them). Ask them to send it you before they meet you so that you can pre-answer a lot of their queries.

Prepare an organized brief which the web designer can use to get a background of your work and where you are coming from.

I love receiving a well thought out detailed brief from clients requesting a quotation. The more detailed it is the easier it is for me to understand the project.

Some of the items you can include are:

  • Brief Company profile:
  • Market you are trying to break into:
  • Your ideas of what you want in the site:
  • List of functions you want in the site:
  • List of benchmark sites:

In conclusion I would say that the better organized you are the better the project will run. Also it will prevent someone from confusing or tricking you. Knowing what you want is half the battle won.


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