You have a brilliant business idea, you’ve created a plan, packaged your goods or services, and are ready to move on the logical next step–hiring a web designer. Or are you?
Web design is a big investment, both in time and money, so it’s essential to step into the process prepared. As a web designer myself, I’ve worked with clients who come from a range of backgrounds and industries. They also range in terms of their preparedness.
If you’re thinking of hiring a web designer now or in the near future, read on to discover the 7 steps I recommend you take before hiring.
Step 1: Brand your business
The reason I offer both branding and web design is that they go hand-in-hand, especially for new businesses. Branding your business is essential and encompasses much more than a pretty logo. Before hiring a web designer, consider working with a brand designer on your primary logo, logo variations, color palette, and typography. Sharing a brand style guide with your web designer will help immensely in communicating your vision.
That said, branding extends beyond aesthetics. In addition to your brand identity design, you should also work out important factors like your brand’s mission statement, niche, and ideal clients before hiring a web designer.
Step 2: Know your goals
You probably know your business goals like the back of your hand. You should also have clear goals for your website. Is your main goal to increase profit through online sales? Build a community? Grow your email list? The more specific you can get the better. The web designer you hire should know your website goals inside and out and keep them in mind throughout the design process.
Step 3: Gather inspiration
As you jump into the web design process, you may already have a vision of how you want your site to look. The best way to communicate your vision with your web designer is to share examples. I recommend having at least 3 website samples ready to share before hiring a web designer. That way, the designer can easily see if the project is a good fit or not. If it is, she’ll already have a solid idea of what you’re going for before the project even starts. This will help gather momentum for a smooth take-off.
Related post: What’s a Mood Board and Why Do You Need One?
Step 4: Create a list of features
Depending on what kind of business you have, your site may require certain features. The most basic example is a shopping cart for an e-commerce site. Another common example is a membership platform. Some features aren’t necessary, but are nice to have, such as an Instagram feed, chat box, or custom graphics. Before hiring a web designer, make a list of all the features you need or want for your site. Make sure to include things that may seem intuitive or simple, like a blog or newsletter opt-in, just to cover all the bases. Keep in mind, your web designer will likely quote a higher rate for advanced features.
Step 5: Prepare content
This step is crucial. As I tell my clients, the content for a site informs the design–not the other way around. Therefore, before hiring a web designer, you should have, at minimum, a draft of your website copy and a few on-brand images. Ideally, you have your own professional images, but in the meantime, relevant stock images suffice. As for copy, I always recommend working with a copywriter if your budget allows. A copywriter can help you develop your brand voice, implement keywords for SEO (search engine optimization), and most importantly, make sales.
May 2020 update: To better serve my clients, I now offer website copywriting as an add-on service to my design packages. Website content planning is included at no additional cost for anyone who prefers to supply their own copy or work with a copywriter of their choice.
Related post: 15 free feminine stock photos for female entrepreneurs
Step 6: Pick a platform
Picking a platform is a tricky and confusing step for some. It’s all too easy to get lost in the Google search vortex of Squarespace vs. WordPress vs. Showit vs. WiX vs. Shopify. Everyone has an opinion on which is best. My (somewhat controversial) advice is to do a bit of research, maybe play around with a free trial or two, and just stick with whichever you like best.
My platform of choice is WordPress, and that’s where I build the majority of my sites. However, some of my clients prefer Squarespace for its simplicity and ease of use, in which case I’m happy to accommodate them. If I’m working with an e-commerce client, I always recommend Shopify, as opposed to Woocommerce (the standard WordPress e-commerce plugin). If you’re really stuck on this, ask your web designer for her opinion, keeping in mind most designers specialize in specific platforms. In the end, the result matters more than the platform.
Step 7: Create a launch plan
Last but certainly not least, I recommend creating a launch plan before hiring a web designer. That way, when the project is complete, you’re ready to hit the ground running. Launching is undoubtedly the most exciting part of the whole process–make it as easy and seamless as possible!
Related post: Website Launch Checklist: 7 Things To Do Before Launching
Ready to cross hiring a web designer off your to-do list?
I specialize in creating strategic websites for small businesses that are built for conversion. If you’re ready to elevate your online presence and grow your business intentionally, let’s connect.