Getting a new web design is stressful. The first meeting with a vendor is often the worst part. It combines the terror of client feedback with “need-it-yesterday” urgency. Creativity can be stifled and important technical details might fall through the cracks. On top of that, certain interests and expert opinions may be missing from the conversation.
Who should be in the room the next time you talk web design?
We say it all the time. Your website is the center of your marketing. Every other marketing activity you do either points back to the website or links to it. Web design changes must start with strong marketing strategy. Connect with your marketing specialist to refresh what you’ve got or start something new from scratch. Do this before shopping for a web designer.
Once your strategy is finalized, make sure it’s a part of every website related discussion going forward. That means knowing your own marketing back to front or making sure your consultant is on hand to answer questions during meetings.
Who made your logo? Do you have digital, vector-only files for your logo and other branding assets? Your web design changes aren’t moving forward without these art pieces. Make sure you have the right files from your graphic designer. You should also have a document with technical codes for colors and other guidelines to keep your brand looking its best.
Besides using the art you have, web design often calls for the creation of new graphics to truly make the site your own. A graphic designer should be in the meeting so they get direction first-hand.
This one’s obvious- in most cases, web designers are responsible for both the overall design and programming of your site. They’re here to wave a wand and make all your dreams come true. At the very least they’re going to drive the conversation in most of the web design meetings. Introduce them to your marketing and graphics people. They’re going to be best friends.
In some cases, a graphic designer creates a static mock-up of the site and hands it off to the web designer to program. If the work is split like this, your two designers need to be in close contact. Please don’t have a mock-up created independently and ask a web designer to “do it just like this”. Web design only works if the creative efforts are coordinated.
So far, we have three creative types in the room throwing out big ideas and recommending big changes to the way you do business. You need someone to say no. Someone who built your business systems and knows their limits. It’s time to bring in IT.
Introduce your information specialists to your web developer to make sure you have the technology resources to support the developer’s ideas. There may be website features and tools that you can’t afford, can’t manage, and can’t staff properly. Ask IT to make sure you don’t get in deep without knowing the cost.
One more thing: Small business websites are often tied deeply to your business email accounts. A web developer might recommend or require that you change website hosts, but changing to a different hosting company and changing certain domain name settings will disrupt email service and wipe out your IT professional’s careful work. If there’s a transition coming, your IT professional needs to know so they can plan ahead.
Every business needs someone to take care of the day to day tasks of website ownership. Running updates, checking the settings and responding to glitches are tasks that come up weekly for some business sites. Who’s responsible for your site? It could be IT, or it might a member of your front office. It could also be you. Put the website caretaker in the loop so they know how their job duties will change.
That’s five people with different interests and expertise descending on your business website plan to dramatically affect the way things are done. You need them all. Maybe not all at once and maybe not for every website meeting, but the first meeting should be a gathering of the minds where introductions are made, expectations are set and all of the meetings to come are previewed. Invite everyone over, make sure there’s fresh coffee and get started.