Because you’re not a web designer and don’t know what information is needed to build a new website, this article will give you tips and resources to expedite the design process.
There will likely be questions along the way, so it’s better to tackle them before the meter is running. Here are 9 things you should provide to your web designer before building your new website.
1. Web Design Brief
If you were to search [you fill in the blank], would you find your website on the first page? A web design brief includes what your business specializes in, your price range, URLs to other sites you like, the content management system (CMS) you want to discuss, and the analytics system.
Including a price range will help the web designer understand your limits and offer appropriate design functions.
Providing URLs to competitor sites you like parts of and a description of what you like most about them can assist the web designer.
Your web designer will want to know what level of control you really need over your website’s content and how simple or advanced the content management system will need to be to update text and images.
Your analytics package can be discussed with your web designer. Often a good web designer has experience with the latest software and can suggest options to measure what is popular on your site and what needs improvement.
A customer persona sums up all the key characteristics of your buyers to pursue the right opportunities and make better content decisions. Knowing the target audience for a website can help you with design elements as well as appropriate content.
2. Visual Sitemap
A visual sitemap helps organize what pages you want on your website, and in what order. Visual sitemaps allow web designers and developers to efficiently plan website projects by displaying a flowchart view of the entire project that shows connections between web pages, web page trees, and website content.
Note: A visual sitemap should not be confused with the sitemap file that search engines use. Your web designer will generate an XML document (a geeky term that developers understand) that will contain additional information about individual pages which can be easily interpreted by search engine spiders like Google.
Because page copy gets edited, it is important to determine the content and its organization you want on your site before you approach a web designer.
Focus on creating visual sitemaps online using these suggested websites:
3. Main Menu
The main menu is the navigation structure that you want on your website made up of the page names that typically appear across the top of the home page. Some websites show the main menu as a left or right sidebar, so review what your customers prefer and what your competition is doing.
Having a good idea of what pages will be included in the main menu enables the web designer to efficiently add it to the wireframe (the schematic visual guide for arranging elements in a web page that tell what the page does) or web design comprehensive (the layout known as a comp that displays how the web page appears).
The logo is the emblem that your company name or brand use as an icon for quick recognition and can be a typeface style, a graphic, or some other type of image that quickly registers with the customer. Examples include the Nike swoosh, the Whirlpool oval, the Chevrolet emblem, the Mercedes emblem, the blue cross and shield of Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and so on.
For best results use file formats: .jpg, .png, .psd (Adobe Photoshop), .eps (Encapsulated PostScript), and .ai (Adobe Illustrator).
If you had your logo designed for you, make sure to ask for the Adobe Photoshop files and/or Adobe Illustrator files so that the web designer can optimally resize it.
The following are inexpensive places to get a logo designed if you are on a budget:
There are also online websites that allow you to create a logo for free:
5. Theme Colors
The theme colors are used for the entire site (header, footer, sidebar, body copy, headlines, subheadings, and background) and should work together in harmony. Remember that black text on a white background is easiest to read, as opposed to white text on a black background—the point being that high contrast is harder on the eyes. Usually, the theme colors should match the brand or logo.
A color palette shows how colors will look together in a theme: Paletton
Colors can also be found in paint swatches.
Colorzilla offers a free color picking eyedropper tool for Google Chrome and Firefox that can be used to pick out color areas of web pages.
Adobe Color Wheel offers a free tool that you can click and drag up to five sections at a time with precise RGB and HEX identification without using separate eyedropper tools.
Canva’s Design Wiki teaches you everything you need to know about colors, their meanings, and the color combinations that will hopefully give inspiration to your next design!
6. Fonts (Typefaces)
Your web designer will need to know what fonts and sizes to use. For example, what font are you using for your logo? Consult with your web designer for suggested fonts if you are unsure what will look best.
The two most popular sans-serif fonts for headlines are Futura and Proxima Nova. However, there are many that will work well.
Popular resources to find fonts are:
Recent research shows that the majority of people only read headlines on the internet. Therefore it is important to choose the font that is best for your brand and for your readers.
Computer screens have lower resolution than printed paper, which makes serif fonts such as Times Roman more difficult to read than Arial, for example.
Recommended web safe sans-serif fonts for websites include Helvetica, Arial, and Verdana.
Your web designer should be able to guide you with font selection that reads easily and loads lightning-fast.
7. Page Copy
Page copy can be articles, blog posts, lists, reports, reviews, or anything that you want to write about on your site.
Read the text aloud. This is the most valuable tip next to spell-checking your copy. If there is anything that feels clumsy, or difficult to understand or speak, rewrite it.
Keep in mind that internet searchers are scanners, so headline and subheadings should contain the most important keywords and phrases that your visitors are searching for.
Highlight what keywords and key phrases (also known as anchor text) you want to link pages to within your site, and, to outside sources (very helpful for search engine optimization).
Save the spell-checked page copy in a Word document with the same website page name. Name altered page revisions with R1, R2, etc.
Use the services of an SEO copywriter to be sure you get the most value from your online text.
8. Page Images / Video
Successful sites today use images and video to help sell their products and their message. Research shows that people respond more to images and videos versus just page copy.
For videos, give your web designer the Youtube or Vimeo URLs and be clear what pages you want those videos to appear on. You may have to supply the account login information if the videos need certain permissions or if any of the settings need to be changed.
When supplying images for the new website, rename image filenames to something similar to the page copy document so the web designer knows what images you want on specific pages. For example, if you have a Word document named “About Us.docx” then rename the image to “about-us-1.jpg”. This will help keep your project organized.
Also, remember to save the images to a large size. The web designer can always resize or crop the images to a smaller size as necessary.
The following are popular free stock image sites:
TIP: WhoIsHostingThis.com has published a comprehensive list of websites for Free Stock Photos.
Ready-made stock images are more convenient, and in the above examples, free. You simply have to sign up/register to use the service.
Using stock images is much less expensive than hiring a professional photographer, staging the product, scheduling and staging people for the photograph, lighting, etc.
9. Contact Forms
It is important to know beforehand what form fields to include and in the order you want them to appear. It is recommended, for example, that you have fields for the first name and for the last name for future use in a database. You may also want to include a prefix field for Mr. or Ms.
If you are designing a form for your contact page, you’ll probably want to give your web designer something similar to the following:
- First Name
- Last Name
- E-mail Address
- Phone Number
- Message Box
It is also a good idea to have an auto-responder send a “thank you” email to the visitor when the form is completed. For example:
Hello [first-name], we have received your message and will contact you shortly.
If you have any questions you can reach us at 602-633-4758 or reply to this email.
Golden Oak Web Design
Hello [first-name], we have received your request for information about our WordPress Web Design Service. We will contact you shortly at your phone number [phone].
If you have any questions you can reach us at 602-633-4758 or reply to this email.
Golden Oak Web Design
Putting It All Together (How to Get the Content to Your Web Designer)
If you email a picture or a document to a web designer, he or she may not know what to do with the file attachments or where to add the new content to the website. Organizing your information before sending it to the web designer is a necessary practice to ensure smooth workflow.
- Use email mainly for communication with your web designer. If you have minor copy rewrites or would like to swap out an image on the website, make sure to include concise instructions with your emailed file attachments.
- Use Dropbox or Google Drive for the bulk of your content. Create and organize folders for the pages on your website. Put the page copy and images in the appropriate folders. Your web designer will be able to access the folders, download the content, and understand where it belongs on the website.
Final Thoughts: Providing Your Web Designer Content for a New Website
As long as you deliver these 9 items to your web designer your website should be launched in a reasonable time frame. You will also develop a good relationship with your web designer and he or she may provide you with a reference, or similar reputation-building testimonial, for being so well organized and a pleasure to work with.
You will no doubt have questions during the project so it is best to get them out of the way first. Avoiding and minimizing confusion and downtime expedites website construction while minimizing additional costs.
Contact Golden Oak Web Design if you have questions before beginning a new web design project.
Call 602-633-4758 for a free consultation.