Defining your business: Things your web designer needs to know.

Posted by Hedley Swann on 28 October, 2013 in Small Business Strategy

Having a professionally designed and developed website is a marketing investment being undertaken by more and more Darwin based businesses. For many business owners, this will be their first time undertaking a major digital project, so let's look at some of the things you should consider before, and during, the early stages of a web design project.

Clearly define your business and your goals

Your web designer will be tasked with communicating your product or service to your potential customers, and they need to have a really clear idea of what the business is, its offering and how it provides value. Just a quick note, I'm using the word "product" to cover all offerings, whether physical/digital goods or services.

The goals of the business, and its online marketing strategy, are the defining points for any decision within the project. Have a good idea of what they are. Anything from increasing exposure and authority, to selling products and generating enquiries are all viable goals. However, good goals are also very specific. Try defining your goals down to statements like "I'd like to generate 20 enquiries from my website per month". Specific goals are measurable, they have success criteria. In our example, we can actively measure the progress of our online strategy by how many enquiries our new website generates per month.

When defining your business, here are some great questions to ask yourself.

  • What are my products?
  • What will make people want to buy from me?
  • Who are my top competitors?
  • What do I currently do better than my competitors?
  • What do my competitors currently do better than me? (A tough question, but useful).
  • How does my product make people's lives easier?
  • How can I make people want to share my product with others?
  • Can my product have a community of advocates and returning customers built around it?

What does your website "need to do"?

A good web designer won't expect you to know how the technological side of having a website works (otherwise you wouldn't need them right?). However, if you have a good idea of some of the features you'd like on your website it's a good idea to frame those in respect to your website goals. Rather than saying "I want a calendar widget so people know what dates I hold events on", try saying "I need to be able to keep my audience up to date with my event schedule." This gives your web designer room to suggest the best way to accomplish this without boxing them into a corner. Remember, they know this stuff inside and out so let's present our problems and allow them to use their expertise to come up with solutions.

Budgets and timelines

It's a good idea to go into your initial web design meeting with a budget range and timeline. Of course, it's easy to get stuck in the back and forth of not wanting to reveal your budget (or maybe you don't have one?) and your web designer saying "I can't propose a viable solution without knowing your budget". Remember, you're both going to be working closely together to create your business website and it's in both your interests to end up with a great results. A good way to approach this question is to ask a web designer what their typical project costs. This will give you a good idea of what you'll be looking at. Similarly, asking your web designer how long the project will take, and when they can begin (good web designers are usually booked for a time in advance) will allow you to factor time into your other business activities.

If your budget range and timeline don't match with a web designer's norm then perhaps you're not the right fit for each other, or maybe you'll decide that you need to save a bit more money before beginning the project. Either way, it's a necessity that needs to be established early.

To conclude

Today we've discussed the importance of defining your business for your web designer, briefing the designer on your project scope and tying everything back to specific and measurable goals. We also looked at why establishing a project budget and timeline are important. Of course, there are many more things that go into beginning a website project, but considering these core issues before you first discuss the project with any web designer will help the briefing and proposal process to be smooth and accurate.