Websites are a lot of work with a lot of moving parts, and being prepared can go a long way in making the design and development of a new site seamless for everyone involved.
We work with lots of clients on lots of different projects, and there is a clear distinction between those who have done plenty of preparing for the work ahead versus those who simply don’t know the best way to do so. A large part of this is obviously based on previous experience – some clients come into the website process knowing more or having done it before, whereas others are brand new to the game. Either way, there are certain things a client can do beforehand to make the process easier on everyone (and ensure their new website exceeds expectations!). Some of the best ways to prepare include:
1) Know what you want and why.
So, your company needs a new website? The first thing to determine is what this new site should accomplish. Having a firm grasp on your business goals means everything that follows will be done with the right objectives.
2) Figure out your copy needs.
Early on, you need to establish what kind of copy will be on the new site and where this will come from. This involves thinking about your overarching messaging needs, and determining what exists already versus what needs to be created.
3) Assess your other assets.
In addition to copy, a website needs photography, and often requires other content like videos, testimonials, or PDFs. If you have an existing asset library, great. If not, compile one and be honest about what photos and files you’d like to see on the new site. If a photo shoot is required, we can work with you on that, but the earlier the better (same goes for copywriter needs).
- Are there things you want the site to be able to DO, like allow people to sign up for events or leave comments on your new blog? Think about it from the perspective of potential customers – what would they like to accomplish when they visit your site?
- You also need to think about third parties. Will the new site need to tie in with any third party applications? Do you collect payment on the site and use PayPal? Do you have a customer portal that needs to be updated or connected to the site in some way? Make a list of any third party connections, and be sure you have the proper contact info and credentials for them.
- Are you going mobile? If you want a mobile version of the site, this impacts the way the web team will go about everything. So think about your desires for mobile, and if that means mobile style sheets for several key pages, or doing a website that is completely responsive.
4) Figure out your internal team.
It is crucial that you have ONE point person who will interface with Jackrabbit and facilitate communications internally. They should be aware of the various people that will need to give approval on things along the way, like design and copy (especially if you have legal/compliance requirements). They should also know how to make final decisions and appropriately compile internal feedback in a manner that best helps the web team (telling us that Bob likes the blue background and Sue likes the green is not helping us move forward – but telling us that the team agreed on the yellow background is).
5) Know that we’re here to help.
Creating a new website is quite the process. It involves so many components, and goes through multiple phases (discovery, design, development, QA) that are all dependent on properly completing the prior phase. We know it can be a lot, which is why everything we do is designed to make things as easy as possible for you. We do a pretty good job of guiding the process and keeping you informed along the way, but the best thing you can do is ask questions, express any possible concerns as soon as they come up, and keep us informed of what’s going on internally (and we promise to do the same).
6) Think about functionality.
All things functional are key points to bring up before the project is quoted or the discovery process begins. The functionality drives the development of the site (obviously) but it is also the basis for the information architecture and the design.
Building a new website is exciting for everyone involved. The more prepared you are and the better you can express what you want, the easier it will be. Proper preparation lets us quote the project accurately in terms of time and costs and allows us to jump right into the process together (and have more fun along the way!).