As a professional web designer, I deal with clients from all kinds of backgrounds. Some think they know everything, some admit to knowing nothing, and most fall somewhere in between. What a majority of them have in common is that they have some level of confusion about what web design services entail and what they should expect from a professional web designer. That’s why I’ve decided to provide a little outline of what you should know before you start meetings with web design firms. They’ll make you feel more informed, they’ll save your professional web designer a little time, and they’ll hopefully make your process much more pleasant.
- Know what you want, generally. Any website needs to be planned before it can be designed and built. Your designer and developer can usually help you refine your plan, but it’s hard for them to do without any direction. Start by defining your goals for the site, including the purpose of the site, whether you want a blog, and any needs for video or social media links. Use those goals to write up a rough sitemap. That sounds pretty complicated, but it’s basically just a list of the pages you want included on your site. Typical pages for a corporate site would be Home, About Us, Services, Gallery, and Contact Us. Then, begin to gather content. Clients often become frustrated when a site can’t launch by the due date, not realizing that the content is what’s holding us up. If the words and pictures aren’t available for us to plug in, your site can’t go up. It’s as simple as that.
- Know about hosting and domains. Most professional web designers and developers will handle this for you, but it’s still good to know. Your domain is the address of your website where users can find you and should include your company name. Hosting is the place where the files for your website sit. Hosting packages come in all different sizes for different needs.
- Know generally what it might cost. Without fail, clients tend to underestimate the cost of a website. The trouble is that it’s difficult to answer the question without factoring in a lot of variables. The requirements of a site, your decision in terms of custom coding vs a CMS, and the way you want it to look will all effect web design prices, and generally speaking, you get what you pay for. Yes, I might quote you much higher than that college kid did, but I’ll also probably provide cleaner code and a better design. Most professional web designers won’t take projects with budgets less than $10,000, however, to give you a basic idea of what we’re looking at.
By no means does all of this information make you an expert, but it should help you go to your meetings with more confidence and awareness. When in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask a question. I’d much rather work with a client who is willing to learn than one who chooses blissful ignorance. Find more.