Getting Ready to Create a new Website

What do you need to do to get ready to create a new site? What should you have before you talk to a designer? What information, pictures should you gather together? This will get you started.

Logo

Do you have a business name and logo for your new site?

If you have one...great! Your web designer will want a digital version of this. Whoever did your logo for you should have sent you the file as an eps, tif, ai, png or gif file (all of which support transparent backgrounds). This is the preferred way that most designers want your logo since they may have to put it over top of a photo or colored background. Check with your designer to see which they prefer. I like eps myself.

If you only have it as a jpg then you may have to pay a bit extra if you want to have them put it over anything but a white background. This will depend on the shape of the logo.

If you don't have a logo, you should get this done as soon as possible. The color choices and style of your logo will effect the web design so it needs to get done first. You don't want to rush through this since you may be starting a multi-million dollar company and you want to make sure the logo is right for you and your brand.

Domain Name

Usually your designer can help you get this done if you haven't already. Your business name at a .com or .ca (if Canadian) web address is ideal. Try it out on people to see how they respond to it.

There are times when your company name is too long and a suitable short form should be used. You may also find that it is already taken. Check the taken domain to make sure it isn't something like porn or a competitor with a similar product. If it is, make sure you choose a domain name that can't be accidentally typed in wrong. For instance: say you have a graphics company called Via Grafix. Don't use the domain name viagrafix.com or you will get traffic you don't want as people come looking for little blue pills (true story!). If you have that unfortunate name, and the website ViagraFix.com already exists make sure to get a website name that is totally different. Viagrafix.biz won't do. (In this case the company changed it's name completely to Learn2). But they could have gone with a domain name of GrafixByVia.com or ViaImages.com or something associated with their tagline.

Images

Pictures of you, your product, mood images and stock photos need to be collected. Make sure these are good images and expect to pay to have your product cut out of busy background so that it can be placed cleanly on a nice white (or other color) background.

If you want your designer to create a composite image (or combination or several separate images) make sure they are capable of that. Not all web designers are competant enough in Photoshop or other image manipulation program to be able to do this well. (I am!).
You will need ownership or permission to use these images on your site. Likewise, if you have taken pictures with people in them to use on your site, make sure you have permission to do so (especially if any of the people are children!). You can even have them (or their parents) sign a model release form.

Stock Photos, Royalty Free Stock Photography, Photo Search

Testimonials

Testimonials sell! Get as many as you can. If you don't have any yet, ask for them. You don't have to put someone's full name at the end...you can just write: D.T., Cookstown, NY or Lisa B, Sales Manager, Boston or something of that sort. If they do give permission to use their full name though, go ahead and use it. It means they really stand behind you. You don't have to use the full testimonial either (although you can have it somewhere on your site). You can take the best line or two and use that on your homepage. Your homepage is a great place to put some of the best ones by the way. You can cycle in new ones as you get them.

Site Structure

Think about the structure of your site. How many pages do you need? How will they be arranged? Horizontal or vertical menu? Both? Do you need pop menus or drop down menus to handle more complex sites? Look at sites online to see all the different ways your navigation could work. Make a note of sites that have navigation you like and write down the links so you can show your designer what you might want. Remember that cool navigation designed for a 5 page site probably won't work for your 30 page site...it certainly won't look the same!

Organize your site into main pages, sub-groups and sub-sub groups. Draw it out to give to your designer. (they'll do the happy dance if you do!). Have a plan for expansion as your business grows. You may think you only need 4 pages at this time, but you may have to completely redesign later if your site grows to 25 pages and you don't have a menu that can expand to handle it. Horizontal menus have a limited number of main links because screen width and font size will limit how many you can fit in. You can always create subgroups with drop down menus etc, but if you need to add more main links, you might be in trouble.


Gather the content for all the pages that you currently need: text, images and video. Make a note of anything you plan to add later on and let your designer know. They may have to plan for it now.

See more on writing content for your site.

     




What goes on a homepage?

  • Your company name
  • Keyword rich text about who you are, what you do, what people will get out of it (with pictures if it doesn't get too cluttered)
  • Sign up for a newsletter, free report or anything that will allow you to collect a name and email and build a database.
  • Logos of certifications, professional groups or associations you belong to.
  • Client list (especially if you have some big-name clients...big is relative to your area of service)
  • Testimonials...get some!
  • Location, hours, phone number etc
  • Methods of payment (cheque, visa etc)
  • Important news
  • Blog, facebook or twitter link if applicable