Whether you're looking at the launch of a brand new website or the redesign of your existing one, taking on a project like this is exciting but also a lot of work!
We've worked with loads of clients on projects of various sizes and have a good understanding of what it takes to make sure you reach your end goal on time (if not before), on budget and most importantly on point.
Here's a few tips for those who are looking at a web design project that will make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible. It'll also give you a bit of an insight in to how we work here at Hive Social.
1. Understand your needs.
This is the first port of call on our web design project - you need to know exactly what it is you need from your new website. Whether it's a simple information based site or a full web store, the level of functionality required will inevitably dictate what platform/approach is best suited to you. It may seem totally obvious but make sure you know how many pages you need and what level of functionality you require.
Here's just a sample of things that may be worth considering:
Have you got content already or do you need brand new page content?
Do you need an eCommerce feature?
Do you need users to be able to upload content to your website?
Do you need a customer chat feature?
Will someone be in charge of maintaining content in the long run?
Do you need a blog feed?
Do you need newsletter sign up/email marketing integration?
Is there a specific WordPress plug in you really really want?
Having a clear list of your project needs will make the initial consultation process much easier and your web designer will be able to properly understanding the project straight away.
2. Know what you're after.
The next step is to think about aesthetics. What do you want your new site to look like and how do you want it to work? It's important to research other websites (in any industry) and make a list of things you like about them - no matter how big or small.
It's well worth thinking about things like:
Navigation style - top horizontal or side vertical?
Image style - large 2/3 hero images or parallax scrolling effect?
Do you like transparent navigation or block colours in the top nav/footer areas?
Do you like black and white images only?
Do you like websites that have images as background with text over the top?
Do you have images or do you need a bank of stock imagery sourced/provided?
There more inspiration you can find the better! When briefing your designer, have a list of website links that you've looked at with a few notes outlining what you do and don't like about each one.
3. Show us your Personality!
It's so much easier to build a new website for a company that has brand guidelines with a totally clear brand identity, colour palette and tone of voice.
If you don't have this sort of information, don't worry! We can work with you to shape your brand's personality to make sure that your new website is the perfect extension of you. We can design a new logo, find the perfect colour scheme, suggest fonts and help shape your brand's tone of voice.
4. Make sure everything is in place.
One of the biggest tasks of a web design project is getting everything together: wireframe, text content, images, domain details and other access info like payment portal log in's and email marketing log in's.
You need a list of what page titles you want (e.g. home, services, about, contact, blog etc) and how you want them to work together - try and have an idea of your required wireframe/site map. Write up some content for each page (this may already be in place if you're working on a redesign), this can of course be tweaked at a later point, but you definitely need something on the pages to give you an idea of how everything will look/feel.
The easiest way to approach website text and image content is to get all your documents together on a shared cloud platform such as Dropbox or Google Drive. We like to set up shared folders with our clients so that information can be updated by both parties and everyone knows where everything is! There's nothing worse than trawling through hundreds of emails to find one small comment/update from 2 weeks ago.
5. Be available and open.
So you've scoped out your project, outlined all your inspiration and got all of your information and content in one place - great!! It's totally obvious but now you need to stick with it...
When working with your designer it's incredibly important that you're available to answer questions and clarify bits and pieces that may pop up along the way. The whole process should be collaborative. With all of our projects we ensure that we keep in regular contact with updates on progress, mini project objectives and comments/suggestions that will shape the project.
We totally understand that everyone is busy and time is precious - if you've been tasked with managing a new website design project, make sure you set aside some time/resources/energy to reviewing progress and keeping things moving. This will make for a much smoother process and ensure that you hit your deadline.
6. Don't be shy.
Again, it should be a collaborative process and given this, constructive criticism is super important. If you don't like something or things aren't quite moving in the direction say something sooner rather than later! Regular and honest feedback is the key to making sure that the project develops exactly how you imaging it and all elements are kept on track.
7. Be prepared to keep things going.
You made it! You've got an awesome new website that ticks all the boxes and represents your business perfectly, now you need to keep everything going.
Think about things like blog posts, and pages updates - all of this will not only benefit your Search Engine rankings but serve to keep your site refreshed and up to date, prolonging the life of your new site. What's the point of getting a great new website, ignoring it for 12 months and then sitting down to work out how you can refresh it, only to find that your answer is 'a new one!'.
With all of our website projects, particularly Squarespace, we offer basic training to make sure our clients have the knowledge and confidence to keep things up to date. Alternatively, we offer website management and digital content services to help make sure you're continuing to make an impact online.