What You’ll Need to Start a Website

December 28, 2011
Business Owners
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I recently received a call from a friend regarding creating a website for him. He was starting into a new business as a mortgage broker and was wondering how to get the ball rolling on a website. Of course I gave him the rundown of what he needed, basic price info, and asked a few questions so I knew the scope of the website. Afterwards, I was thinking it might be helpful for people to have a list of what is needed when you first meet with your web developer.

So here goes.

The List

The Explanation

Pages. Pages obviously are vital. The more accurate you are on the actual pages you want, the easier it will be for the web developer. The best thing to do is to research your field. See what other doctors are doing on their websites and write down any pages that you think you will need. Keep in mind, the first version doesn’t have to have everything. You can add to it a little down the road. Make sure you write down any page ideas that you might like to add in a little later.

OTHER than text. When a web developer makes a website, the easiest thing to do is to add text and photos. Anything other than text is going to take programming/designing/installing. A few examples: Calendar, Calculator, Random Quotes, Social Media Icons (twitter, facebook, etc), Photo Slideshow, Contact Form. The more up-front and organized you are with what you want on the pages, the more accurate the quote and the easier the website process is.

Colors. Generally speaking, websites have two colors. A main color and a highlight color, and greys/whites/blacks/tans (all neutrals that don’t count). The highlight color is generally used for links or mouse-overs. I have found that blue is an overwhelming choice of most people. But don’t be afraid to branch out. We have a million blue websites online. Why not make your main color burnt orange or lime green? Embrace the color wheel!

Sub or Main. This is really important for the developer to know. If you are making a sub website, you’ll need to consider how it will fit into the main website. Do you want to use the same colors? Do you want to use the same layout? Are we linking back in a huge way?

Time Frame. Websites generally take 3-4 weeks to finish. If you need a website done by Friday and it’s Monday, you better be totally sure about what you want. A website won’t be launched if you can’t make up your mind. And it is vital for you to communicate this deadline to the Web Developer. If you are looking for a massive website (more than 15 pages, interaction with users, etc.), you are probably looking at more of a 2-3 month lag-time, longer if the web developer is also working on other things.

Designs. My first advice: Unless you have taken a minimum of 5 design courses at a school, LISTEN to the designer!!! If they say your cat picture doesn’t belong on your business website…believe them! The vast majority of people truly believe that what they design is incredible… and 99% of them are wrong. Don’t go ask your mother/father/wife/husband if it looks good. They have no experience in design either. Ask someone who knows about it…that web developer you’re paying money to design a website.

So why then do I tell you to gather websites you like? Because there are a million types of good designs out there for websites. The goal is to find several websites that you like so that your developer can gain a sense of what you are looking for and what design types you like. The last thing any web developer wants is to make a website you don’t like!

Summary

Once you’re ready to go, armed with your list and your knowledge of what you want, take your time to find a web developer who will listen to you and call/email you back. (Just a note here: the vast majority of us web developers like email more than phones for communication after the initial meet & greet.)

If you’re ready, you can always give me a call… or an email!

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