So, you wanna start a website?

several computers on a deskAlright, so you’ve been hearing about this thing called the “Internet” now for like, 10 years and you’ve even ventured onto Facebook, and although you still don’t quite get it, you have finally come to terms with the fact that… YOU NEED A WEBSITE. Now the question is, “What the heck? How do I do this?”

Perhaps you invest in a mac because you’re told you can do it yourself with their tool called iWeb. Or you’ve gone out and purchased Dreamweaver, because someone said that’s what you use. Okay, now what? You could sludge through tons and tons of online tutorials on how to use these tools, but most people who do eventually come to terms with the fact that… they need help.

So, where do you start?

Well, first of all, you probably know someone or know someone who knows someone who can do a website for a reasonable price. So, start trying to get into contact with whoever that person is. But when you finally DO have your meeting with that person, come prepared!

This post will give you a few questions and info to gather for your new website venture and your first meeting with your web person. I’ll be posting a series of blogs that will help you with the entire process over the next few weeks but for today we’ll just deal with the first meeting.

  1. What kind of business do you have? This is important because there are a set of specific pages that most web designers know should exist depending on what your website is trying to sell. For instance, if your business is a storefront where you sell designer boots, then your designer will need to know that you’ll need a shopping cart and all of the bells and whistles that go with this. If your business is selling your voice-over skills to the local studios, your designer will need to ensure that you have a voice-over portfolio page and possibly some special access to possible recruiters or employers. If you’re a novelist, there will need to be pages about your works and publications. I think you get the drift.
  2. Given no budget, what would you want your website to do in 10 years? No, I know that there probably IS a budget, but giving your web designer an overall perspective on what you’re eventually going to do with the website is helpful in planning. Now, you may not know and that’s okay. But do try to take at least 10 minutes to sit down and jot some ideas on what it COULD do. 🙂 Trust me, you’ll really probably like the process.
  3. What do you expect this website to do for you? Make sure your developer/designer knows what you are expecting from the website. “I want 100,00 hits in two months” is an example of that. This helps the designer/developer know what they can provide for you on a more reality-based set of circumstances. For instance, if you are Julia Roberts, that may work. But if you are not someone of great fame already, the designer/developer can help you redirect goals to a more reasonable level and give you a good process in order to eventually get to that final goal.
  4. Why should anyone care? And of course, I mean this in the nicest way possible. Really, why are you unique. Why should anyone give a damn about your website? If you want to create just some store out on the internet, fine… a designer/developer would probably gladly except your money in exchange for another store out there. But its ALWAYS good to be UNIQUE in what you are bringing and to be clear about that uniqueness.
  5. What is your budget? Come on, now, this is a serious question. I’ve experienced a lot of people who like to keep that question vague to see what they can get out of me and its just a bit annoying. 🙂 State the budget. Trust me, your developer can give you an accurate quote based on that. If you asked for a 10 page site and then you say your budget is 300.00, then your designer/developer can at least adjust and give you one kick-ass home page.
  6. When do you want this completed? DON’T leave this open-ended. Give a deadline. Give a deadline for the proposal and don’t be afraid to set reasonable consequences.
  7. What do you like on other websites and what do you hate? Give examples. VERY HELPFUL!
  8. How much time and resources will you want to commit to this new venture after its done? Your team will want to know this in order to quote out the possibility of an admin-able website to enable you to change your own content, or they may not if you don’t intend on spending your time doing this. In my experience, paying more money upfront to get the admin-able stuff is always the best bet because otherwise you’ll be paying here and there for things that eventually add up.
  9. Who is your target market? Type (Businesses or consumers?), ages, gender, etc. If you’re a website for elderly people, for instance, you will want to make sure your site accomodates larger texts. If you’re a website for teen girls, you’ll probably be looking for a more vibrant and hip look and feel to it.

This just about covers the info you should bring on your first meeting. Next, we’ll go over more specifics about budgeting and maintenance.

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