Time to start your web design project?
So you finally decided to start your web design and own your website (either for your business or for personal purposes) but you don't know how to go about making it a reality. You are not alone! I have come across a number of people who wanted to put their brand online but didn't know where to begin. Then there are those who know where to start but end up with a very unsatisfactory or incomplete website.
In this article, I will outline 5 basic things you need before you call up your web designer to get started and have your website up and running with the most basic info for your audience.
Before we begin, however, it is essential to understand that a website is pretty much like a virtual office space. You don't just set it up and leave it 'til "Thy Kingdom come". Like every physical office space, you will need to update it with relevant info, maintain it and renew it annually (at a less expensive cost than physical office space of course, haha). I also want to point out that web design and web development aren't the same thing (the former being more creative and the latter being more technical) but through most of this article, I will be using web designer for both.
You can handle site management yourself if you have the basic knowhow or, for an extra charge, you can leave it to your website developer/designer.
That said, let's get on to listing out requirements before starting up your website project.
- Domain Name
- Hosting Space
- Website Details
1. Domain Name
The domain name of your website is the most important thing about your website that you need to come up with. It is simply that name you type into the address bar ending with a .com (or .ng or whatever other extension eg. google.com) that takes you to a website. To consider an analogy, it's the name of your website just as you have a personal name (or nickname).
When selecting a domain name for your website, it must be unique (no two websites on the internet have the same domain name).
You can check the availability of a domain name at hosting websites like godaddy.com or whogohost.com. You might find it difficult to get your dream domain name as many websites online must already be using what you wanted.
I remember wanting to start with imagenation.com as my domain name but had to face the disappointing reality that it had already been taken. You can just add a few extra relevant letters to yours or think up a more unique name though. Just remember it is always best that the domain name describes what your website is about.
Once you have decided on a domain name you can either go to one of the afore mentioned websites or any other hosting company you know to purchase the domain or (if not sure you want to handle it yourself) you can pen it down as one of the things your web designer will handle for you. Read How to get a domain name for more on domain name registration.
2. Hosting Space
If you have a physical office location, then that means there is a building and room(s) that contain all your office equipment and furniture. The same thing applies to a website as it needs space (like a room) on a server computer (the building) called a web server. When people type in your domain name in their browser, this is were the files from your website will be called up from.
Different hosting companies have different hosting packages for different web owners. If you are going to be running a website that will attract a lot of traffic (like say a gossip blog), you will need a bigger package than someone just setting up a website to tell people what his business does and where you can find it.
Once again, you can purchase this yourself along with a domain name immediately if you know what you are doing. But if not, then let your designer choose for you. I always recommend getting it yourself though (even if your designer has to walk you through the process).
This is for whoever will be handling the design of your website. It's important to outline the purpose of the website and any special requirements or functionality you want for the website.
The purpose of the website might vary from a magazine blog to a children's field trip blog. Whatever the case, it helps to be descriptive enough of your objective for your designer to have a good idea of what kind of theme to use or colour scheme that would be best. It would also help in the selection of the most suitable hosting package for your website.
Special functionality could be that you want people to be able to book appointments at your spa or submit details though customized forms. If you require some unique functionality, then your web developer will have to crack some custom code for you.
Preparing a brief is a good way to get your designer on the same page as you, and have him or her asking the right questions. And if you will be designing the site yourself, it's still a good idea to have that brief as a reminder of what your objectives are.
In my experience, the biggest hindrance to the completion of a website project is lack of content for the website. I'm talking about the information the website is supposed to make available for your audience and I don't particularly mean funny memes, videos, and gossip stories. I'm talking about basic content like information about your brand for the "About Us" page, or list of your services (if any) along with a description of what they are. The content can be submitted along with your brief or after your designer has set up a basic layout of the website.
You might be one of those people that expect the web designer to come with content and you would be correct if he or she is a content developer or has one on their staff. The fact does stand, however, that no one should be able to describe your brand better than you. If proper grammar is the problem, then you can outline a summary and have the designer structure it properly for you. Here is a list of things you can provide as content.
This is information about your brand that goes on the "About Us" page. It helps to keep it straight to the point and easy to read. It should be able to answer 4 questions. Who are you? What do you do? How do you do it? Why should I patronize you? You can also go ahead and include more detailed history and achievements of your brand.
If your brand has a logo, you can also provide it or have someone design a digital copy (preferably in PNG format). If you do not have one, however, then it's not a total loss. You can still without it.
If you render a service or services to clients, then list out said services along with descriptions that will help your audience understand what they are.
If you will be selling items online, then you should have information about them which should include name of item, available quantity, price, possible discount price (for promos), description of item, picture of the item, and any other bit of info you deem as useful.
I'm sure you do but just for other readers who don't know, this stands for "Frequently Asked Questions". It's good practice to have a list of questions clients are likely to want to ask and it's also smart to have answers for them. Posting them on your website saves you the trouble of having to answer the same questions all the time. If your designer is experienced enough, this section of your website will be very informative to clients (prospective or not).
It's also a great idea to have information on your website that will help your audience reach you for extra info or to request your services (which is what we want, right?). Contact information should include phone number(s), email address(es) that you actually check, office address (you would be surprised how much peace of mind it gives a client if they realize they can actually meet you), social media handles like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, etc.
If you have good personal images for your brand, it's best to make these available for which ever page they could prove useful on after all, a picture speaks a thousand words. If you don't have any, your designer can probably fish online for stock images but more personal pictures are always best.
5. Website details
This final piece of information is actually something you can (and should) get after the completion of the project. These are mainly login details to your website's backend and control panel - if available. It could also include instructions on how to manage the website yourself if possible. You can think of this as the final report that ends the project.
And that's the list you need to have before taking on that website project (with the exception of the last, of course). If you have all that, then the design process won't be a hassle and you will have your website up and running before you can say shokolokobangoshay (it's a Nigerian thing from the 80s and 90s).
I would like to remind you that I recommend getting the domain name and hosting space yourself if you can as it would make annual payment easier for you. But if you can't, however, you can leave it to your designer lest you go purchase space for a castle when all you needed was just a flat. If you are in Nigeria, I recommended buying from Whogohost. If not, you can try Godaddy.
On a final note, I hope this information proves useful to you and if you still have any further questions (or want me to handle your web design project), you can hit me up in the comments section below or click here to leave a more personal message.
And don't forget to share it with your friends.