What your web designer wants to know

If you're planning to give your website a makeover or are about to launch a new business and want to get a really effective website working for you, then do your homework before you meet a potential web designer.

What you need to have thought about

There's a very long list, but the basics to get you off to a good start are in three categories:

  • What you want it to do - functionality
  • What you want it to look like - aesthetics
  • What you want your reader to do - purpose

Functionality is all about how it works and how the pages are related to each other.

It's worth sketching out how you see the pages being arranged, whether they should be on the main menu or in a subsection. For example, do you want to have each of your services to have a main menu tab or would you prefer to have a 'Services' page with the individual services as subpages in that section? Functionality includes things like online shopping, downloading documents, interactive forms, sign up boxes, video, audio and other things that affect the experience the user has.

Aesthetics is about the look and feel. This includes the colours, the layouts, the design and visual imagery you use. To help your designer to get this right it's a really good move to do a bit of browsing and list the sites you like the look of - and more, importantly, why you like them. If you like nice crisp, uncluttered, predominantly white sites - and your web designer knows that - you won't end up with a dark, ornate site that you don't like! Purpose is something that people forget. Asked 'what do you want people to do on your website' many people say 'buy my stuff'; unless you have an ecommerce site that's probably not very realistic. There are many potential purposes for a website including getting people to read and comment on your blog, sign up for a free tips download, register for a course or webinar, provide feedback, ask for more information or just pick up the phone and call you. Unless you know what you want something to do, you'll have no way to measure how well it's working. If you're armed with this information when you meet to brief your web designer you have a much better chance of getting the website you want.