Consulting with a web company is not just about the web design team creating an attractive, fun, useful website for your needs. It involves a lot of collaboration and input from you, the client. This means that you need to give your designer information before they even get started, so they can help you develop the best website you can.
First, give them information they will need to improve or create your website. This includes:
- A dossier about your company that includes basic information like the address, current logo, current website address, products and services you offer. A dossier, folder or PDF is best because this will give your web design company access to all the basic information they need to create your website.
- For corporate websites, this includes whitepaper material and any other marketing material you have (such as the brochure you want to turn into a downloadable PDF or flash presentation)
- Your overall marketing strategy, if your website is part of a campaign. This allows your website can be incorporated to reflect the feel or look of your current campaign, especially if your website developer is not part of the original advertising company. In this case, you may want to connect them to the advertising company so they can share your materials.
- Your target demographics, which includes considerations like:
- Age ranges for your target market
- The target markets you want to reach
- The target markets you are currently reaching
- Any special considerations your website may need, such as language translators or disability-support
Moving into Design
Armed with information, you can now move on to design considerations. Make a list of the things that frustrate you about your current website or collate customer complaints about the website. The next step is to select the top three main points -- or the aspects that you think are make or break for the business. For example, an ecommerce site should probably take note if the customer complaints are about the shopping cart.
Once you know what you do not want, discuss this with the developer to find solutions that not only fit your vision, but also fit your budget. You may want to check what your competitors have on their sites and how their sites look and feel. This way you can design yours to be better and not to reflect the same stylistic elements -- this can cause confusion among customers.
You should have a basic idea of what you want the website to be like. Nothing frustrates a designer more than a client who does not know what their preferences are, or what they want from a website. Make a list of things that are important to your business and your customers (for example, bigger images, and faster loading times). This list can also include: graphics, your logo, your brand colours, your product presentation and more. Make a list of three things you cannot live without -- and three things you can.
The next step is to give them time. Once you have given them everything that is important, give the web design company time to do a mock-up, a fake website that improves on your current one or has all the elements you ask for. Why? Because what you want and what you need may not be the same thing. Keep in mind that many design companies will only do a mock-up once you have signed the contract -- but by this stage, you should have.
Testing, Time and Launching Your Site
Finally, keep an open mind. Successful web design is a collaborative effort. Your web designer's technical knowledge and input are invaluable and they know what looks good and what will work best for your website. Do not make it all about your needs -- give them time and space to add input, tweak code and make suggestions. More importantly, you should be open to their suggestions.
Good web design is give and take between both parties. By giving them all the information they need and working closely with your web design company, you will both enjoy a wonderful final product that looks great and works like a charm.