I often get asked the same kind of questions over and over again. One of them being “can you make me a website?”. Another way its worded is “how much do you charge to make a website?”. Now I appreciate that business owners might not know the technicalities of a website, they need to understand that these types of questions are quite broad and vague. Anyone who can answer them immediately, without first asking some preliminary questions, are probably just trying to rip you off or make a quick sale, then run off after the job is done.
On the flipside, it is quite a red flag for web designers and developers when clients ask vague questions or take the laid-back approach, because it can be hard to help them achieve what they want to achieve by having a website in the first place.
Therefore, I have produced a small checklist of things you need to think about before even enquiring about a website. While originally thought up with clients in mind, it might help web designers and developers too.
1) Know what you want to call your website
I know this may seem like a no-brainer, but sometimes it may be difficult coming up with a name for your website. You could name it after your business legal name, trading name or something different.
The important thing is to do your research and make sure you are not competing with a website similarly named.
Also, make sure you stick with your name once you have it, because it can be a bugger to change in terms of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and other factors later on.
2) Get a domain name to match
On the topic of names, make sure you get your domain name early. This is the address you will direct people to to visit your website. There are a few things to bear in mind when choosing a domain name…
Short and simple is better:
- While many people will find your website on Google or social media, you may wish to put your website link on flyers or business cards.
- Also you may wish to use your domain name for your email address e.g. email@example.com
- A long or complicated website link or email address is a quick way to put someone off immediately.
If you’re a local business, try to stick to a country-based domain:
- There are many domain endings these days, some really crazy ones like .online, .xyz and .fun, it can be hard to pick the right one.
- Personally, I think the older ones like .com (best suited for international companies and businesses), .net (best suited for networks) .org (best suited for not-for-profits) are better as they are more widely known.
- A good rule-of-thumb is to go with a country-based ending like .co.uk, .us or .eu if you only do business in a particular country.
- You can have multiple domain names and point them all to 1 website, but you do need to have at least 1 primary or main domain name.
3) Establish your brand
This is probably one of the most important parts. You need to have a brand to be able to stand out in today’s sea of hairdressers, beauty salons, gyms who are already online.
This means having a catchy, well-designed logo and at least 2 colours that represent your brand. Any competent designer should be able to discuss this with you.
You could go all out by picking a font or two and maybe even a specific style you want your website designed in e.g. minimalistic or abstract and artsy.
4) Know what you want your website for
There’s no point putting a website online if you don’t know what you want one for.
Do you want an online shop to sell products? Do you need a place to show off your work or testimonials? Do you want a lead-generating website with call-to-actions and lead-magnets?
Make sure you know what you want your website to do and what you expect to get out of it early on.
The easier you make it for your web designer or developer to understand what you want, the better they will be able to give it to you.
5) Gather the content for your website
While you can hire copywriters and buy/download stock imagery, no one knows your business better than you.
Therefore, it is highly recommended that you spend a bit of time gathering resources like text, images, videos, testimonials and whatever you want to include on your website as soon as you can.
Ideally, website designers and developers expect that you have this before starting the website. If they have to do most of this part themselves, it will slow them down making the actual website, which means a higher cost to you and a longer launch date.