Preparation is the key to reducing costs in creating or refreshing a website. The website is for your business, you must retain control of your website project.
You know your business best and you need to be prepared to guide the developer. The first meeting is important in setting the tone for the project. You must convince the developer that this project is one of your highest priorities. You want the project to be completed in the shortest possible time and he will have your continued attention and participation.
You must gather materials in advance of your meeting to present to him. You should set up your own file of the materials that you provide the developer. You want him to know that you intend to keep track of the documents you provide in case questions arise later. Some items should be originals; others can be copies.
Material to present at your first project meeting:
- Originals of business cards, stationery, logos: Originals provide exact dimensions, undistorted colors and provide the best representation of your company to your customers and prospects.
- Copies of presentations, proposals to customers without pricing: The developer can read this material and get a sense of what your company and industry is about. He can also begin to understand the company’s special language and the tone in which you converse.
- Original product sheets and information on your products and services: You want the developer to understand what you sell and you want to minimize the time it takes him to gain this understanding.
- Samples of current advertising: This will be helpful as background information and for him to gain an understanding of your tone. Let him know if you have access to electronic copies of text and images. Make copies for him if these documents are in your possession.
- Notes on things that make your business unique: For the moment pretend he is a prospect and sell him on your business. What is it about you that makes you unique? Why do prospects become customers? Is it your quality, timeliness of deliveries, product excellence, after the sale support, competitiveness? He needs to have this as background so that it will be highlighted in his design.
- Notes that you have created on customer demographics: He needs to know something about your buyers as he works on design and later content. What is their age range, gender? What role do they typically play in their employers’ business? What might their personal goals be, workplace challenges? What information do they need as they are searching for a source of products and services? What is their style as they work with vendors? You want your website to talk to your customers and prospects and it is best to talk about that early in the project.
- Web site addresses of primary competitors: You want him to see the designs they have used so that your site will be clearly superior. If he has their addresses he can also research how they place in a Google search. He can find out the keywords that their site uses to attract customers. He can tell the tone of their content and how to improve using your tone. This will also help him understand the industry that you compete in.
- Color and design preferences: If you have chosen colors and design elements to represent the business provide them to the developer. The website should reinforce choices you have already made. If you are dissatisfied with your current colors and design elements, you may want to hire someone to help with these prior to the beginning of the project. Designs should be consistent across the business. If you plan to change design elements as part of the project, then it is important to choose a developer who has and can demonstrate those skills.
- The purpose of your website: Websites have progressed from being just another advertising medium to being an Inbound Marketing machine. Many businesses have an Outbound Marketing strategy that uses cold-calling, direct mail, sales flyers, telemarketing and traditional advertising. Inbound Marketing promotes your company through websites, social media, blogs and video. Inbound Marketing brings visitors to your website, coaxes them to stay and converts them to live prospects. These prospects have already been qualified by your website and are ready to be handed over to your sales team.
Your participation will save you money and ensure that you get the developer’s best effort.