Everyone wants a website these days – and for good reason. If you have a business of any sort, you should have a website. Websites can be as simple as a single page that helps people find you or as complex as your imagination can take you. You can not possibly get printed material to the vast numbers of people you can reach on the internet.
So, now that you know you want a website, what do you do? There are many resources to 'do-it-yourself' and if you want to put your energy into that rather than building your business, that's fine. Only you know what your skill level is and where you want to put your resources. There is a range of web designers out there ready to help you with this aspect of your business. If you have done a bit of work beforehand, you are more likely to get an end result that you will be satisfied with and can quickly have your website up and running.
Do not forget that even if you are running a business from the website that it is only one part of your marketing plan. It does not stop once the site is up – you'll have to be promoting it and providing the best service possible so people will continue to come to the site.
To get the most out of your site and your meeting with web designers, spend some time before you really start the process looking at other sites. You'll want to look with a critical eye to see what you like and what you do not like. You'll also want to look at what works and what does not work. Look at sites that are in your area as well as ones that are not. Keep in mind that you want the site to work the best for your visitors / clients / customers. Sometimes what you like is not the best for people visiting the site.
Things to look at:
- Colors including background colors, font colors, borders, and navigation bar.
- Where the navigation bar is. Sometimes there is one horizontal across the top, sometimes one vertically on the side, sometimes both, sometimes little menus are scattered around the page.
- How easy it is to find your way around. Do you have to search for things, are they clear and easy to find? Personally I feel that simpler is better. Why make people work harder than they absolutely need to.
- Titles of different pages and which pages you want to use. Do you prefer 'About Us,' 'About the Company / Author / etc.,' 'Biography,' or 'Our Story.' There are a lot of ways to term just about everything and there will be some that speak to you more than others.
- What kind of images are they using? Do you prefer photographs or graphic designs?
- Do you want 'flash' images – moving images or text. This fits well with some sites and does not with others. What kind of header do you like? Ideas include a small logo and the site name, photos or other images, the site name in color, a 'flash' banner, among others. Look around and see what appeals to you.
The more you can communicate your desires to your web designer the better. Also, the more you have a clear and realistic picture of how you want the site to look based on what you've seen others doing the greater the chance that you will get a site you are pleased with. Even with pre-planning you should expect that there will be adjustments you'll want to make as the site is built.