So you’ve decided you need a website? But, where do you start? We have found that most people don’t know how to prepare for the initial meeting with their web designer. However, if you can take a couple of hours in front of a computer with a pad and paper, the amount of time and money you will save is amazing. Below is a list of questions to consider:
1. What Do You Want Your Site To Do?
When beginning a web project, it’s a good idea to sit down prior to the initial meeting and figure out exactly what you want from your website. Focus your thoughts on the most important thing: your visitors. Who will be visiting and what will they want to see when they arrive? A great exercise to do while completing these steps is to ask either a current client or one that could be interested in your services. Sometimes your potential customers want things you’ve never thought of.
Most people simply want a small site to display a bit of information about their company and its abilities in an aesthetic design. However, there is so much more your website can do for you. Would you like it to keep track of prospective customers? Would you like to offer online coupons? Would you like to supply industry-specific articles that will showcase your expertise and give you credibility? Do you want an online-only promotion? Do you want to write a blog to gather subscribers who are interested in your knowledge?
There are countless things a site can do and so many ways it can communicate with your visitors, even outside of business hours or when you’re not there. Take a few minutes and write down what you want your site to accomplish.
2. Do You Have Any Repetitive Tasks?
Another great thing your website can do for you is eliminate repetitive or mundane tasks. Whether you’re a chiropractor who constantly has to give directions to your place of business or a landscaper who provides a list of land-care tips, you can use your website to communicate these. Think about what your customers will want. What can you offer online so you don’t have to provide it in person or on the phone? You can make your website work for you and free up your time.
3. Do You Already Have Existing Marketing?
Marketing needs to be congruent. Your website must match the branding elements of your signage, vehicles, business cards, letterheads, brochures, etc. If these elements are different, it causes confusion and dilutes your message and your memorability. Take a look at your current investments in marketing and consider matching what you already have. If you decide you want to start from scratch, realize there will be up-front costs to changing other elements of your brand.
4. What is Your Competition Doing?
An excellent exercise to do before you put money into your own website is to see what your competitors’ websites are doing. If you have specific competitors that you know by name, visit their sites with a neutral mind. Write out your thoughts and feelings about them. Is their web presence helping or hindering their business? What do you like about what they’re doing? What do you dislike? If you don’t know any competitors by name, do a Google search for your industry and your city (ex. “Florists Calgary”) and check out the first few pages of links until you find several actual business websites. This can be one of the most valuable uses of your time; things you can do better than the competition will become obvious.
5. What Do You Like? What Do You Dislike?
Then, expand your search to outside your industry. Find five favourite sites and five least favourites. List specific things for each address (ex. “I like the logo placement,” “I dislike the darkness of the site,” “The amount of helpful, free content builds their reputation excellently,” “The font size is too small,” etc.). This is an invaluable tool you can take to a web developer.
Going through these questions is an excellent way to prepare for your initial meeting. From our experience, if you answer them all, you will be more prepared than 90% of people out there looking for a new site. It’s an hour or two well spent and will save you a lot of time and money.