12 Steps to Avoid Website Design Catastrophes!

Jan 26, 2020

What to tell your Website Designer beforehand

The decision to redo your old website or create a new one can make or break your business!  Besides being a major expense to begin with, the content of that site reflects so many things about your organization, from your position in the market, to your goals for the future.  Here is a list of important things to tell your website designer before you start. It will help them figure out an accurate bid for their services and make sure that your website says exactly what you mean it to say.

Avoid an economic and image catastrophe by thinking about these topics in advance:

  1. What are you trying to sell with your website? Is it to increase awareness of your brand, or specifically sell something?  Is it to encourage future sales, attract visitors to an actual location or get customers to contact you?  Are you trying to gather email addresses for an informational list or offer an ongoing resource through a newsletter or blogs?
  2. Who is your Target Market? Get specific and real about this.  It’s never “Everyone”.  We recently worked with a new coffee shop who told us that her customers change during the day…. A group of elderly men drank coffee early in the morning, local businesspeople dropped in for lattes and lunch, women from the yoga class came in the afternoon to socialize, and college students came late afternoon to study.  Each target market was very different, but there were common denominators to use in all of her marketing.  They all wanted great coffee and interesting, homemade baked goods.
  3. What is the “Pain” your customer wishes to solve. Say you’ve got a hair salon.  You pride yourself in modern cuts and color.  Your client’s “pain” is that they want to look up to date!  Your client is an upscale woman willing to spend more for that service.  Your website needs to reflect that.  In contrast, a discount chain salon may focus the most on price point and fast cuts.  Where are you in the market?
  4. Who is your competition? Even if you have a good idea who your competitors are, do a search on the internet and see who is out there.  It may not be as simple as “coffee shop”.  It’s more likely any food place that might compete for the same dollars you are trying to get.  The key is to recognize what makes you UNIQUE in your market and translate that into an effective website.
  5. Are other websites you like? Even if they are not in the same business as you, they may have navigation categories, a photo gallery, blogs, or a contact form that appeals to you. Tell your web designer what it is you like.  A client of ours showed us a website with a main page photo that had nothing to do with their product, but once she told us that she loved the cleanliness and simplicity of the photo and text, we understood what she was looking for.
  6. What colors do you identify with and why? You may find that your favorite color doesn’t exactly reflect your business.  And sometimes, the stereotypical colors for an industry don’t suit where you’re going, either.  Purple is often used for spiritual sites, green for environmentally friendly ones, orange and yellow for travel sites to warm locales, blue for just about everyone.  The shades of these colors say a lot about you, be it dark or light, pastel or not, lime green or forest green.  Each one tells the world something specific about you, your service, and your target market.
  7. What 5 key words would a customer to search for your business? Again, it may not be what you think.  Use those words online and see where they end up.  Who shows up first and why?
  8. Will you incorporate Social Media into your website? Remember, that the demographic of who utilizes each one changes!  Facebook was once used only by college students and now it’s often a way for older people to keep track of family and friends.  Instagram, Twitter, YouTube all are separate ways to find your clients, but you will still need a website.
  9. What photo images do you want? Are you going to supply your own photographs, want us to find stock photos or take new ones for you?  Don’t be offended if your web designer feels like your current pictures aren’t the best for your site.  Sometimes, the ones you like aren’t the ones that will give the biggest impact or say what you mean to say.
  10. Do you want to do the updates yourself? It’s very possible to create a website where you can upload photos, articles, news items, publicity, or items for sale, without having to hire someone to do it every time.
  11. When do you want this done? Go to your web designer with a schedule in mind.  Often, designers are on the midst of projects and have to schedule you in.  Almost no one can create something of value immediately.….and be suspect of anyone who says they can!
  12. Where do you want your business or organization to be in 5 years’ time? We had a client who confessed he planned to sell the business soon and needed only to update his website as an informational piece to his current customers, and appeal to a prospective business buyer.  We tend to go into a project looking at long-term results.  If that isn’t your intent, let your designer know.

Article by Taimi Dunn Gorman, Small Business Consultant,