Gathering Your Thoughts: What you need to have before designing a new website
When building your organization's website you may be tempted to jump right in and get a web designer contracted as soon as possible, however there are a few things you should try to gather before you get in touch with a designer that will both help the process move faster and help the web designer give you a more accurate quote.
The most important thing that an organization needs to provide before beginning a web design project is the content. This includes any text you want on the website, any imagery you would like added, and any download such as PDFs or forms you will need on your website. It is very difficult and much more time consuming to design a website without this information.
You can either create this content yourself, or hire a writer or content manager to help you develop your content and make your website more optimized for search engines (also known as SEO).
While not totally necessary, having a logo before you begin will help your web designer determine what style your website will be in. If you do not have a logo your website can use a text logo, although I would recommend knowing what style of font you would like your organization’s name to be in. Keep in mind that the logo and website are often the first things that a potential customer sees, so making sure that they represent your organization well is very important.
If you have any specific images, such as photos of your employees, product, or events it is very important to provide those to the web designer before they begin. You can use stock images, either from free websites such as Unsplash and freepik or purchased images from places like iStock and Getty, but I would recommend using your own images as much as possible.
If you do not have any images your web designer may be able to recommend a photographer for you, or may use stock images to fill in the spaces while you get a hold of your own images.
a company email
The goal of a website is often to have your customers either purchase your product or get in contact with you. In either case you will need some form of email address for your clients to reach you with. You web designer can set this up for you as an email in your own web address (firstname.lastname@example.org) for an additional fee or you can use an email address such as email@example.com. I recommend using an email address with your own url as it looks more professional and trustworthy.
a url or domain name
When coming up with a URL or domain name there is one rule to remember: Shorter is better.
If you already own a URL your web designer can setup your new website to either redirect to that site or they can transfer the domain for you. If you do not have an existing URL I would suggest purchasing one as soon as possible to ensure someone else does not buy your URL, as a URL owned by another person is always more expensive. You can also have your web designer purchase the URL for you (for a fee). They may have ideas on what urls work best for your business.
a list of what pages you want
Websites often consists of multiple pages, and while a web designer can help you with the process of choosing which pages to include in your site it is recommended that you have an idea of what pages you want on your site before contacting a designer. The most common setup for pages include a home page, a contact page, an about us page, and a product page.
samples of other websites you like
If you are on a tight time frame for setting up your website, giving the web designer samples of other websites you like will help your process. These websites do not have to be within your industry, but it is important to keep in mind the complexity of the websites you are sharing. The more complex and custom the website, the more expensive it is to build. Don’t send your web designer samples of a 500 page website for your four page request, and don’t send a four-page website for your massive online store.