So, you have a great product or service, you understand who you are targeting but your website just isn’t looking as up to date as you are. Time for an upgrade…… ok so how do I explain to my website designer what I want when I’m not technical.
We hear this from people all the time “I don’t know what I want but I will know it when I see it” or “if I was technical I could explain what I want” or (hold on to your wallets for the next one) “Can you show me some examples and Ill choose the best one?”. If you have infinite budget and time to allow a designer to try out different ideas until you decide what you want – this can be a fun and creative process to be part of. But, if like most people, you are trying to work within the confines of a budget then it might be worth thinking about a few things first.
Think of it this way – You never hear someone building a new house say ”I don’t know what I want but I will when I see it” or “I don’t know how many rooms I want but if I was technical I could explain what I want”. Chances are you know exactly what you want, the hard part is communicating that to the person building your new website.
Understand your target audience
No website designer is going to understand your customer base better then you. Without a clear idea of who will be interacting with this website how is your designer expected to effectively design a UX (user experience) that will suit your market.
Have you seen any other websites that are speaking to this audience? If so, make a list of the top five, what you like (and why).
Decide what you want your website is going to be and what you want it to do.
If you are an established business what is the reason for your new website? Do you want to drive more people to pick up the phone or do you want people to buy directly from your site? Do you want to build a community or a call to action?
Sit down and try look at other websites and use their successes and failures as inspiration for the design of your site.
If you love a site as it has lots of animation and is visually exciting, then you need to make sure that your designer is able to do this for you.
If you want a complete E-Commerce back end that will control stock, send products, process payments etc. then you need to make sure your designer can do this for you.
This will also keep your prices lower, if you know that the E-Commerce functionality is only a would like to have but a website that is visually exciting is a must have then you can ask for the costs of these different scenarios and make your designer work to your budget as opposed to stretching your budget to try and accommodate for everything on day one.
CMS (Content Management System)
Don’t panic, I’m not getting too techy here but you need to know what this is. A CMS is how you will update the website in the future. In the past web designers would create stunning websites without a CMS meaning that as soon as you want to update one word of copy, you would have to pay them for the pleasure. Not asking for a CMS is like asking your mechanic if they will service your car once a year and then come to your place and fill it up with petrol and window cleaner every time you are running low.
Again, if you have the budget for this then congrats, I’d love to not have to go to the petrol station once a week but until I win the lottery I might keep making the trip myself.
Create your own Example. Yes YOU!!
“What is a designer for if I have to design my own mock up??” a designer is only as good as their vision so anything you can do to help make their vision align with yours will make for an easier process for all involved.
Grab some paper and a pencil and do your best to show what you mean. Give examples of other websites or designers to help get your point across.
How many pages do you want? Do you want a ‘Contact Us’ page that is separate to the ‘About Us’ page??? Why do you want to do that??
How are you going to navigate your website? Will it be at the top or the side or the bottom?? What do you want it to do on a mobile??
Even if you don’t know any answers to the questions above at least you will have thought of them……. Unless you would prefer to pay a designer to think of them before they even get started??
I thought not, now go grab your kid’s crayons and start drawing like you are 5 years old!
Talk to a multitude of designers before choosing
Make sure that your designer understands what you want from your website and that you can communicate with them. Let’s be honest, building a website isn’t a short process and you are going to have to work with these designers for a few months at least. Make sure you like them and you can work with them. This might not be the first person you sit down with but just like walking into a architects office a shouting “you boy! Build me a house” and leaving would be crazy, the same is true for find a web developer.
If you don’t know your CMS from your HTML then don’t pick a designer who wants to blind you with how much they know. If a designer can’t show you that they can ace your project, then move on.
At GLProUK, we try and make these conversation as simple as possible. We understand that not everyone loves playing with code as much as we do and have simple conversations to get your idea across. If you want to have an open chat with us about your website then please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on Twitter and Instagram @GLProUK