Prepare for a Website Project
Jumping into your next website project thinking that the agency will handle everything for you is a recipe for disaster. From my experience here at SQUADPLAN, I can tell you that this is not the right approach to take. You will have the best chances of getting the website you imagined if you take an active part in the project, especially the research phase.
Wouldn’t it be better if you had a cheat sheet you could consult every time you need a new website or website redesign? Yup, it definitely would! That’s why I decided to put together a list of things you can do to stun your next agency’s representative. Here you go!
Create a website folder and share it with the agency
The best way to nail the website preparation phase is to start looking at your website as a perfectly organized content hub. It features colors, pictures, typeface, text, logo, and so on. The agency can work only based on the information you send them. If they don’t know anything about your company, they won’t be able to design and develop a website that reflects you and appeals to your target customers.
Simply put, you don’t just order a cake in a bakery only to complain you don’t like coconut! Instead, you take into account all ingredients. Well, the main ingredients for your website go as follows:
● Business Plan (Mission, Vision, What you do, What you sell);
● Texts (Content);
● Pictures from you, your team, office;
● Picture of your products.
You can send all of it via email, or even better, open a shared file on Google Drive and upload everything there. Before you share it with the agency, make sure that you are happy with the pictures you want to use. If not, you will need to schedule a new appointment with a photographer.
Research websites to find the things you like
Every website has a couple of elements. Shuffle these elements around in your design, and you will have a completely new look and feel.
There are millions of websites online. If I were you, I would spend a couple of hours researching and making a list of what I’d like to see on my website.
We have business portfolio websites on one side and eCommerce websites on the other. Let’s see what you note during your research. Don’t forget to state what you like in your notes, along with the link to the website page.
On business portfolio websites, you can assess the following:
● Header of the page — Do you like the menu and its structure?
● Do you like the oversized image (hero image) — Do you prefer it static? Or do you want several on rotation?
● Would you like to add some text to the main picture — a slogan, intro, call to action?
● Do you like how you transition from one section to the other when you scroll?
● Do you like the style of the website?
● Do you like the picturemood, fonts, and color?
● Footer — Do you like the design of the footer?
● Do you like the position of the logo, or you’d rather have it in some other place?
On online shops you like, you can outline the following:
● Do you like the overview of the shop?
● Do you like the number of products you can see per page?
● Do you like the size of the pictures?
● Is there enough information (Title, description, price, reviews)?
● Would you like to add any product filters (which ones)?
● What elements and information should a product page contain?
● Do you want to add related products to every product page?
● How do you want to sort products?
Choose the functionalities you want on your website
Do you like how you can place an order without registering on an online shop but still have a registration option? Are you stunned by how simple it is to use a website? Do you see great potential in that live chat on the home page?
All these functionalities don’t just happen. They have to be coded. You will make it easier for your agency to deliver realistic deadlines if you list all the functionalities you need right on the start. Here is everything you need to decide:
● How many web pages do you want to have?
● What items do you want to have in your website menu (Home, Shop, Blog, About us, FAQs, etc);
● If you want to launch an online shop, decide the following — how many products you want to sell, do you want to enable the use of coupons, do you want to use out of stock notifications, will shoppers be able to zoom in product pictures, which payment options you want to support.
● How should your visitors contact you? If you want to use the contact form, what fields do you want to have?
Take deadlines seriously
When I work with a client that comes to me with everything we’ve just outlined above, I can easily work with my team on the deadline. It usually takes six months to deliver a website when everything is prepared. Unfortunately, your active role doesn’t end here.
The agency won’t upload content to your website. You will need to come up with everything ranging from home page text and images to blog posts and product descriptions.
When the agency starts working on your website, you should start sorting out the texts and images you want to have on it. That way, you can have it online the same day the agency completes development and design.
Here is what you should expect from SQUADPLAN once you give us the details about your website. We will present you with a mood board showing the fonts, pictures, colors, and elements. We often show our clients a work in progress homepage prototype.
You have the final say at this stage, though. If you say you like it, we will start working on the homepage. We will keep you in the loop to ensure you like where we are heading and make changes in time. We will ensure that you’re OK with every element when the homepage is done before we continue developing other pages.
If we are developing an online shop for you, by this stage, you will have to send us:
● Product delivery costs, method, and time;
● Bank info for your merchant account;
● Total of team members you want to keep in the loop;
● Your company addresses that you want to appear on the map;
● Social media links and login information if needed.
I personally advise our clients at SQUADPLAN to use either Trello or Infinity to write tickets and keep up with project progression.
Once you greenlight the website’s desktop version, we will optimize the mobile version. Finally, we have the testing phase. Do you have to test the site too? Of course, you do!
I’ve often seen clients saying, “Meh, if you tested it, it’s probably OK!”, only to find dozens of errors (reported by actual clients) and get frustrated.
That’s exactly why you should test it as you mean it! Use Infinity to write down everything you plan to test so we can test the same things. Two heads are better than one, right?
Every website project is a two-way street. If you think that the web agency will (or can) do all the work — you are wrong!
SQUADPLAN will soon have templates you can buy/download to help you easily prepare for an upcoming website project!