3 Things I Need From You Before I Can Design Your Website

February 20th, 2018

Hiring a website designer can be intimidating. You need to know that you're getting a website that will fulfill all your needs—whether that's providing information, selling a product or service, generating leads, or anything else you and your business need. Add to that the fact that website designers might not know anything at all about your business, its common industry terms and best practices, or your target audience. How are you supposed to know what information is relevant to provide, and what's unnecessary?

The answer is that there are only three things I need from you before I can start designing your website.

1. Design Questionnaire

The most comprehensive—and easiest—starting point is the Design Questionnaire.

Okay, okay, so this first item is sort of more than one thing, but bear with me.

This list breaks down the most important questions about the website into a standardized package, which in turn allows me to figure out what elements, or deliverables, I'll be expected to provide when everything is said and done.

What kinds of questions are in the Questionnaire?

The Design Questionnaire gives me, right off the bat, some basic information like who the stakeholders are, what the scope of the project is, and what kinds of assets you might already have vs. what I'll need to create. For instance, will I just be designing a website to hand off to another developer, or will I be developing it as well? Is this for you, a company you work for, or someone else? Will I be creating all new visual assets, or are you providing some?

What are some assets that might already exist?

Some folks already have a consistent visual style guide, including branding assets like logos, submarks, and brand colors. There might also already be some images, like team member photos, that I'll need to include on the website. If you've already got this material, I'll ask for copies in a later step. Not everyone has this stuff already prepared, so don't sweat it if you don't—these items simply become deliverables. Figuring out what you need is the point of the questionnaire!

2. Visual Inspiration

In order to know what direction I'm going to be taking my design solutions, I need to know what gets your attention. More importantly, I need to know what gets your target audience's attention. Nobody knows your clients, readers, and customers better than you do, so I'm relying on your expertise here.

With that said, of course, you're relying on my expertise in crafting a design that does what you need it to do. This step is more about feel and less about a specific look.

Where to find inspiration

When you hire me to design your website, I'll ask you to create a shared Pinterest board to collect bits of visual inspiration. Since Pinterest allows you to not only pin existing content but also upload your own Pins, you can pull from your own catalog of images and documents if you'd like. You can also add Pins right from your phone, which makes adding inspiration material super easy on the fly. See a food truck with a really cool font? Some fabric with an interesting texture? A vintage poster at your favorite coffee shop? Snap a picture and upload it to your Visual Inspiration board.

Remember, this part of the process is all about mood. How do these colors, textures, type treatments, and images make you feel? How do you think they'll make your audience feel? It's highly unlikely that I'll use specific images or fonts from your Visual Inspiration board, but the Pins you share with me will help me understand the overall feel you're looking for.

3. The Goal

I saved this one for last, but it's the real star of the show. What is the purpose of this website? What is the single most important thing you need this site to do? Are you providing information to visitors? Does the website need to generate leads? Convert customers? The answer to this question might be blindingly obvious, or it might take a few good conversations before we uncover it. If you're not sure right now, we can schedule a meeting (virtual or face-to-face) and work together to figure it out.

Above all else, this singular focus will inform virtually every single design decision I make. To put it simply, I need to know your goal before I can help you reach it.

Putting it all together

These three ingredients give me everything I need to start working on the website design for your next project. Think of this as your homework, before I can start on my homework. Once you've got it all turned in, I'll make sure you're kept in the loop every single step of the way until we arrive at a final product we can both be proud of. I'm looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Cover photo by Eric Parks on Unsplash