Google is great for many things, but it shouldn’t be the final stop for those interested in your business. YOU should be creating that authority. You need your own website, a hub for anything and everything that has to do with your brand. Without it, all those loose ends will remain separate entities floating in cyberspace, just waiting to get lost.
Where to Begin?
To make the most in the first meeting with your dedicated web team, you need to get organized. Every project is unique, but the bare necessities to get started generally remain the same. And because I’m a Mnemonic junkie, let’s group these assets into 4 easy to remember categories:
A is for Access
Step one for any website is to create or claim an established space for your site to live. Even if another company set this up for you in the past, you should still have been provided the login credentials to your domain name, hosting service, and the site itself. If the site is to be developed in a WordPress environment, credentials to that site will be needed as well. Although full credentials are not typically required, brands with a consistent social media presence should be ready to supply handles for all platforms that will be linked to from the site.
The last crucial bit of information that you will be asked for are the credentials for any third party software used. These can range from CRM software for collecting email leads to PHP databases for storing and distributing information. Anything and everything used in your digital marketing plan should be accounted for and addressed on day one.
Protip: Create a password sheet using a secure (offline) Excel doc to store all crucial usernames and passwords for quick reference.
B is for Branding
Branding is so much more than just a logo. It’s the colors, fonts, and images used to create the user experience. Without it, customers have nothing to consistently associate your brand with. Even if you don’t have a specific brand guide, there are three key pieces you should be prepared to provide.
The logo is the face of your brand. In a perfect world, you will already have a vector file (SVG, PDF, or Ai) ready to send. If that’s not the case, a transparent PNG is optimal, as long as the shortest dimension is at least 500px. A high res JPG is also acceptable in a pinch if a transparent logo is unavailable.
If you do not have a brand guide, there’s a good chance you’ll want your web team to pull colors from the logo. Be sure to also communicate any undesired colors to the team as well.
Many, but not all brands have a few go-to fonts in their branding arsenal. If this includes a less common typeface, be ready to provide it to the team. If the brand does not have a designated font, a little bit of guidance can suffice. Non-designers don’t need to know what a serif is to provide this direction, a few key adjectives can go a long way.
Protip: In the sea of fonts to choose from, only a handful are considered websafe, or able to display properly across all browsers. If your brand uses a font that isn’t on this list, a substitute may be used instead.
C is for Content
Content can be subdivided into two main categories: text and imagery.
If your site is already established, be sure to take some time to read through every page. Take notes on any pages that need to be rewritten early on. Missing text is the number one delay in the web design process, so it’s best to address any hangups in the first meeting.
Protip: To maximize SEO values, each page of your site should include a minimum of 600 words.
Stock photography can work in a pinch, but quality “real” photos are a must in order to maintain that sense of authenticity. You may want to include photos of the interior and exterior of the space, the products, and employees.
Protip: Short on photo content? It may not hurt to hire a photographer for a day. A mix of candid and planned shots will provide the most versatility for not only your website, but other platforms as well.
D is for Dedication
Dedication may be listed last, but it is just as (if not almost more) important than everything else listed above. It is also the most abstract set of assets for the web design process. In order for this (or any )project to be successful, both parties need to be invested.
You may not be designing the site directly, but your feedback is still incredibly important every step of the way. Be interested in the process and be honest throughout every review. This is especially true if there’s something you dislike, no matter how small. You’d be surprised how quickly one “meh” photo can evolve into resentment towards the entire project.
If you agree on a set time to meet, both parties need to be present and provide each other with their undivided attention. In between those meetings, continue to hold yourself to the same standards as you hold the web team. Respect deadlines and remember that holdups can occur on either end.
When life happens, don’t be afraid to reach out and let the other party know something’s up. There’s a good chance they’ll be more accommodating, especially if you’re proactive.
Pro Tip: If it comes to a point where you are no longer able to prioritize time, energy, or money to the project, be honest. Dropping off the face of the Earth will only make matters worse.
Hopefully reading through this list hasn’t intimidated you. If your brand is feeling a bit flat or writing is not your forte, we have your back. The Roundpeg crew can also help you find a new web host and set up your domain. At the end of the day, the only item on this list that is completely on you is Dedication. We’ll be more than happy to guide you throughout the entire process. If you know your site is ready for a facelift, give us a shout!