So, you want a website?
Let’s talk about how we can make that happen…
Websites are incredible creatures.
They can be so much fun to watch come to life; however, they can also be the biggest pain in the backside! If you’re wanting a website built for your company, organization, or blog, you should know you’ll need to do a bit of work in order to give your website designer the best tools for creating a wonderful website! Don’t let that scare you though 🙂
If you ask your designer to simply build a website and hand them a document full of text or folder of images, you may end up with information strewn across the site in places you never thought possible. See, a common misconception is that we, as designers, know exactly what to do with all of the information you’ve provided (or lack of informaiton). For me, I can’t always separate out information in the proper place because I don’t fully understand your business. I may have a basic understanding of restaurants, medical centers, garden groups, musicians, and cake baking, but that doesn’t mean I know what YOU want your website to say to the target market YOU want to reach. I can make a pretty page with lovely pictures and unique icons, but only YOU know what the end-goal will truly be.
Fortunately, this is the perfect way to create a site that you will love.
This is how the process works around Astrea Creative:
Step One: Choose the design style you connect with most.
This is the fun part! There are hundreds and thousands of design styles out there. Think about the “look” you prefer, the way you like things to move, your favorite pieces from sites you’ve visited, the ease of access to certain pages, and any other details that have stuck out to you from websites you’ve seen and make notes about it all.
Now, go out and look at new websites. Find the ones you like and make a list. Here are just a few sample styles that are out there today:
Seriously though, there are so many styles – have fun and find the ones that speak most to you and don’t hesitate to share that with your designer. The more they understand about your likes and dislikes, the happier you will be with the end result!
Step Two: Gather and organize your information.
This part isn’t as much fun.. or maybe I just don’t enjoy it as much because I’m a very visual person! In all honestly though, this is an extremely important step. Once you understand your personal likes and dislikes on a site, you need to sit down and sift through the information you feel is necessary for your website. Don’t skimp on this either. You may have clients that really want to read as much information as possible to learn about you, maybe you work with a younger crowd who just wants to see the product, or you might even need a good mixture to satisfy their curiosity. YOU know best what your target group is wanting.
I like to let you decide how best to give this information to me because working in your own way will help you organize the information. If you’re forced to work in my OCD methods, you may get pinned into something that you don’t need or don’t want. Things that are needed though:
- Information Sheet: This will contain a list of pages you want to see on your site (Home, About, Contact, etc) and the text you would initially prefer on that specific page.
- Imagery: Any product imagery, photos of the items you sell, jpgs of your portfolio pieces, and other images that pertain to your organization.
- Specifics: You can put this on your info sheet, but this would include instructions for specific buttons you like, links you need, external links, what is important and needs to be highlighted, and so on. This section may also include any features you’ve seen on other sites that you’d like to try and implement such as social media elements, the way the contact form is set up, or how their sliders work. Any details help!
- Your Style: Send us that list of sites you enjoyed. We are visual beings and want to see what you’re seeing!
Step Three: RELAX. We’ve got this!
You’ve given us everything we need at this point. Sit back, relax, and let us do the job you hired us to do. The site may not be ready to proof tomorrow or even next week, but don’t worry – as soon as the site looks great, we will get it to you without delay! Trust me, the proofing process is just as exciting for me as it is for you. Sending out that freshly designed site is one of my favorite moments in each project because getting those excited emails from clients who have been anxiously awaiting that moment is a blast every time.
Step Four: Be honest please.
Here’s the good news: If you are honest, your site will already look pretty perfect to you at this point. The bad news: If you’ve tried to tell us what you think we want to hear, you’re going to hate your website and that’s not our fault. So, please be honest from the beginning, but know it’s equally as important to be honest when we get to the proofing stage. If we have put a button somewhere and you don’t really like it, just say so. Don’t like the image used for the first slider? Tell us!
We don’t want you to just OK the site because you think it will hurt our feelings or you think we just won’t get it. Personally, I want you so happy with your site that you tell everyone you know who built it and how awesome the design process was. I can’t make that happen if you won’t tell me how to make it happen. So, take a few days to look over everything (don’t give feedback the first day, always mull it over on a larger project like this). Then, begin making a list of changes you would like to see in a constructive way. Here are some samples:
- The slider is the right size, but I think a different image for the first slide would be better. How about the one with the guy and the dog?
- The button on the About page is too big. Could we use a smaller button?
- There isn’t enough information on the product section. Let me get some more specs for you to add to those items.
- I hate the slider. We need to fix that. (We don’t know what to fix because we don’t have enough information so chances are we will try to redo the entire thing.)
- The buttons are terrible. I’d rather they just all disappear. (In reality, they might be too large and the page would look more appealing if they were a bit smaller while removing them would make the page too bland)
- There are too many pictures. Where is all the text? (We may think you just want text only and remove too many images)
Providing detailed information with your feedback allows your designer to truly understand your concerns with the page and update it in a way that is beneficial and appealing.
Step Five: Allow us to be equally as honest.
Website designers know what they are doing. If we do come back and explain why some changes are probably not going to help your cause, take them into serious consideration.
While we want you to love your website, we honestly want it to help further your business!
We won’t give you feedback on something that we just don’t want to change. If we are making suggestions in response to your feedback, it’s because we have done our research, built many sites, and understand what certain target audiences want to see when visiting a site. See, your instruction and information is incredibly important, but we also have a wealth of knowledge that can be extremely beneficial to you, if you’ll allow us to use and share it with you!
Step Six: Finish up and enjoy!
Once all the details are settled and things are looking great, go ahead and approve the site. There may be a few details you’re not 100% sure about and you may be afraid if you let the site go live, that one little detail will ruin everything, but it won’t. It’s easy to get stuck on little details when you’ve worked so hard and long on a project and I’m here to tell you that the little detail won’t hurt you! Not only that, but you can always update it later if you need. The best thing to do is allow your website to go live and enjoy the response you get in return. Do a little happy dance because you have a shiny, new website that you are stoked about!
Want to learn more?
If you would be interested in learning more about other design processes or specific topics, comment below! I would love to share more with you.