Prospective customers make a decision about your website in a fraction of a second, which is why good web design is such a vital part of any successful business strategy. While it has become increasingly easy to self-publish sites, there is no substitute for good design practices executed by a committed professional.
What do you want your website to do?
Are you trying to make online sales? Connect with customers and have them call to speak with a sales representative? Create a brand image that customers will associate with your company? It may be that you are trying to accomplish all of these goals in one way or another, but the main thing is that you have a clear idea of the purpose of your website. Start with the #1 goal you’d like to achieve and then plan from that point out.
What do you want from your website’s visitors?
How do you want visitors to spend their time while they are on your website? Do you want them to browse around several pages and explore different product lines? Is your main goal to encourage them to contact you for more information? Are you most interested in collecting their contact information to help with other inbound marketing strategies? The answers to these questions will influence even seemingly insignificant design and development details.
Who is your target audience?
It isn't enough to just say that your audience is made up of people who surf the Internet and have money to spend. Take the time to create a hypothetical profile of your ideal customer. What kind of job do they have? What is their annual income? Do they have a degree? How old are they? Are you speaking mostly to men or women? Catering your content toward specific demographics will ensure that your site is attracting people who would be most interested in you.
What are your favorite/least favorite websites?
You may not be a design expert, but you should know what you like when you see it. Take some time to identify sites you like and exactly what it is you like about them. You may want to pay special attention to competitors' websites and evaluate what you think they are doing well—or not well enough. There is no harm in imitating good ideas and implementing them on your own site. Custom web designers and developers will incorporate your input and preferences into a visually appealing and functional design.
What insights do you have into your website already?
Be sure to collect performance data on your site and have it ready to present to your designer. Knowing what attracts and keeps visitors or what drives them away will help with page design and structure, like what to make the focal point(s) of each page
What features would you like your website to have?
Once you decide what you like and what has worked for your website in the past, use all that information to prepare a list of possible features that you would like included on the website, like a blog or e-commerce tools. You may also want to gather any existing graphic and logo files that you can incorporate into the new design.
How often will you need to update your site?
Depending on the type of business you run, you may need to do major updates more often than others. This is an important factor to consider when undertaking a custom website. Your developer can incorporate features that make it easier to add products, update pages, and change content without having to do a major overhaul or have your website go offline. Think about how often you will need to make significant changes and be sure to discuss this with your designer.
How much do you want to spend?
Custom web design and development will go a long way in helping your website and your business be successful. It is worth the investment, and there are plenty of legitimate options for any budget. Before you meet with a designer or developer, have a (flexible!) budget range in mind so you can work towards an agreement with which everyone can be happy.
Taking the time to think about the details of your custom web project before you seek professional support will save everyone involved a lot of time and result in a much more productive conversation. Come prepared and you can hit the ground running to ensure a successful project. For the next stage in the design and development process, check out our list of 5 Things To Do Before Getting A Web Design And Development Quote.