What do I need to think about before designing a website?

what do i need to know before designing a website?

If you’re thinking of having a website and wondering where to begin, here’s 7 starting points to get you going. Based on conversations we have had with our customers over the years, it will help you have a clear idea of what you are aiming for and help your web designer know what to provide.

Web designers are likely to ask you about…

1. Your branding

  • Do you have a logo? It’s probably a good idea to start here. This will set the style and tone of your business. It will help all your communications look consistent and instantly recognisable.
  • Do you have a style guide? These are often created when you have a logo designed and include a colour scheme and selected fonts. A good web designer should be able to help guide you if not.
  • Can the original artwork be released? It’s always a good idea to start with the original high-res (vector) artwork, so you may need to contact your designer for this.

2. Your audience

  • What type of people are you aiming to attract? Think about who will be visiting your website and why. What do you want them to do while they are there or after they have visited? What will they want to do? If you have different audiences do you need to direct them to different parts of the site?
  • What is the tone of voice you want to use? This will help determine the design layout, style and to some extent, the functionality of your website.
  • Are you competing with other websites? Do you want to be like them or different?

3. Content and structure

  • Who will be writing the content? You will need to consider what pages you need, their structure and the amount of content for each page, sub-page or section. Make sure the copy has been proof-read beforehand. Changes can be made once a website is live, but it is better (and more cost effective) to have it right from the start. Keep in mind keywords and phrases that users might search for before finding your site.
  • How will your website evolve? Will there be blog posts or regular updates? If so, who will need access or training to do this? Or is this something you would rather set up as a regular arrangement with your web design agency? More blog content and regular updates will help you show up in the search engine ladder and keep climbing it, as well as providing your audience with useful information for your to engage with and come back for.
  • Does your website need photographs, illustrations or mulitmedia? It’s a good idea to provide high-quality originals to give to your web designer. They can then optimise the image for web, crop for good composition and photoshop where necessary. Make sure you have permission from the original artist to use any photos, images or other media you have found online and note if any credits are needed. Ask your designer to source or produce them if you aren’t sure.
  • How will the website integrate with your social media accounts? If you regularly update your Social Media, showing those posts automatically on your site can be an easy way of displaying current information without having to write a blog or edit pages. However, if you don’t regularly post on those channels they may make your site look out of date if they are too prominent and you might be better with just a link. You may have existing content you can use. For example a youtube channel of videos that you can embed into relevant pages.

4. Functionality

  • What functions does your website need to perform? Just having a presence on the internet can sometimes be all you need but how can you make the most of it? Do you need a calendar for event promotion or online bookings? Is it an online shop? A library of resources? Will it have members who can sign up? Will they interact with each other or comment on your posts? Maybe you need a portfolio to showcase your work or your testimonials? How will the user gather any information they might need or leave some for you?

5. Your domain name and hosting

  • Do you already have a domain name? (e.g. mywebsite.com) If you do, then your web designer will need access to point it to the new website. If not, then you need to consider what domain name you would like and see if it is available. A good web designer will be able to help you choose one and manage it for you, for ease. Make sure you trust the person buying a domain on your behalf as you don’t want access to be restricted for any reason, further down the line.
  • Are you already hosting a website? It is usually better to transfer to your new web designer’s web hosting and let them manage it. The advantage being that if something happens to your website, your web designer can resolve it for you without having to spend hours on technical chats trying to navigate your way through all the jargon. If you have sourced your own hosting, your web designer will need access to your account to upload and manage the site. Things to ask about your hosting might include security, backups, speed, green energy and cost.

6. Your budget and deadline

  • How much will it cost? A quote will depend on the time the designer thinks it will take to build it and any added costs. They may need to build bespoke software (which is likely to be at the higher end of the scale) or they might buy adaptable packages that can be plugged in to your site. This will usually make your site a lot more affordable than building functions from scratch. If you have a budget to stick to, your designer should be able to let you know what would be possible for that price.
  • Can I build my own website? You may be thinking of building your own website to save money, however many people who go down this path become stuck or overwhelmed and then either need to spend lots more time researching a problem, or discard it altogether. This often means you will need to contact a web designer at some point anyway so it can be more cost effective in the long run to firstly consider all of the points above and then ask a designer for a quote.
  • How soon do you need your site to be up and running? Obviously the bigger the website the longer it will take to build. Even small websites can take a few weeks to get right. Don’t forget to allow time for amendments and testing. If you are providing the content for the website this should ideally be handed over as early as possible as the design of the site is going to be affected by the content. At least, agree a structure of the expected content if you want the designer to start before the content is ready. If you are asking a design agency to produce the content (copywriting, photography, illustrations etc) make sure that everyone has a clear idea of the information and tone you want to get across before you start.

7. A mood board

  • What have you seen that you like? Do you have any websites, or design styles in mind to show what you are aiming for? If so, send your web designer links along with your design brief and explain why they appeal. Your designer will be able to discuss these ideas with you and make appropriate suggestions for your website. Things you don’t like can be just as helpful!

Moonloft can provide all of these services for you in-house so that your website is well designed, efficient and user-friendly. Contact Sarah or Adele for more information, to discuss ideas and to request a quote.