Designing A Website
- Content. First, you need to figure out what kind of content you want to put on your website. Websites are designed around content. If you skip over figuring out your content, or at least get a general idea of your content and hire a web designer first, your designer is going to be left with a lot of guesswork. You’ll end up either having to pay for more revisions to the design later to fit the content, or you’ll end up having to make your content fit your current design.
- Don’t know what kind of content you need? The best thing you can do is get a solid rough draft of what your website’s content will look like, and then have your content writer work with your web designer to come up with a design that best suites your needs. Remember that you don’t need a polished draft in the beginning, and worrying about details too much may slow down progress. In the beginning of the design process, it’s important to know what types of content you’ll need (blog posts, testimonials, services list, etc.) and how long you want each piece of content to be.
Make sure to send your designer any branding materials they will need to include in the design.
Once the design is finalized, make sure that your designer has provided you with the source file (.psd, .ai, .sketch), exports of all images within the design, the names of the fonts they used, & files of any non-standard fonts.
Hosting & Prepping For The Development Phase
After you get your content and design finalized, you’ll need someone to actually develop your site. If you’ve already set up a hosting account, make sure you give your developer any login credentials they need at the start of the project. They’ll need access to any existing website before they can do anything. If you don’t have hosting already set up, they’ll help you configure everything you need. Keep in mind that hosting is a separate monthly fee that varies depending on your needs, and the company you use. If you plan on switching your hosting platform, your developer can assist you with this but this process usually takes up to a couple of days so it’s best to get all that settled before you even begin the development phase of your project.
If you have an existing website set up and need your developer to access it, you’ll need to give them your sites FTP login. FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. This is how your developer will access the files on your website. This login information is not the same as your hosting account login. If you don’t know your FTP login credentials, your developer will likely have to call your hosting provider and reset it, which will add more time to your project, as some hosting companies may take up to 24 hours to reset your FTP login credentials.
Once your hosting is all set up, and your developer has access to it, the development phase begins!
Developing Your Website
Functionality. The amount of functionality & custom styling is what determines how long it will take your developer to actually create your site. Your developer will give you a rough estimate on how long things will take & get to work.
Hands Off. During this phase of the project, you won’t be doing much except waiting on periodic progress updates from your developer. Keep in mind that you really shouldn’t be requesting any changes to the design at this point, and if you do, it can drastically slow down progress. Imagine if you were building a house, and halfway through building it, you decided you want to add another floor. It’s not going to go very smoothly.
Progress Looks Messy. Don’t worry if your site looks bad at first. Websites under construction will look messy. It doesn’t mean your developer is doing a bad job, it just means the job isn’t done yet.
Mockup ≠ Finished Product. Websites are almost never an exact match to the original design. Now this doesn’t mean that your developer is going to change the design around, it just means that a fully functioning website is likely going to look slightly different for the sake of functionality.
Test. Make sure all of you content is error free, and that the website is fully functional.
Up And Running. Now you’ve got a website.
If you’re not sure what you need, here’s a list of Web Professionals and what they do.
Web Developer – A web developer codes and configures websites and web apps.
Software Developer – A software developer creates computer software.
SEO – (Search Engine Optimization) These are the people who guide you through how to optimize your website to rank higher on Google and other search engines.
Content Writer – Content writers create articles, blog posts, and other forms of written content.
Digital Marketer – These people specialize in online marketing. They do things like run online add campaigns and help come up with strategies to market your company online.
UX Designer – User Experience Designers specialize in engineering your user experience to be as affective as possible. Ux Designers often provide a range of specialized services like split testing (setting up multiple versions of a website & testing each with real users to analyze how they interact).
Graphic Designer – Graphic designers create illustrations, icons, and images.
Web Designer – Web Designers design interfaces specifically for the web.
Web Manager – Web Managers maintain your website and manage all aspects of your web presence.
Web Consultant – A specialized consultant who can audit your web presence and tell you where you can improve.