Tips to Help You Get the Website You Need

Your website is the foundation of your online presence.  It’s also a significant investment of time and money.    Here are some tips to help ensure you get the website you want.

Before you hire a web developer, put together a “creative brief.”

Generally, website developers are not mind readers so it is important to think through your requirements.  Absolutely your developer should have suggestions for you; but if you are well prepared the developer will be able to provide a more realistic quote and it will also make the process more efficient.Website under construction!

Map out what you need.

Think about the information you want to provide on your website, the desired reactions of visitors and what actions you want them to take after visiting.  Start brainstorming!  Write each unique topic, reaction and action on a post it note.  Do you need a section for recipes?  Will you include photos of your family?  How about an e-newsletter opt-in section, link to Facebook or a shopping cart function?

For more ideas…

Look at your marketing materials such as brochures, letters, etc.  Check out your competitors websites.  Think through the steps a customer makes to find you and buy from you.  What information do they need and should it be included on the website?  Once you have your pile of post it notes start grouping them together to help identify the different areas and flow processes for your website.  (I like post it notes because it allows you to move everything around to develop a basic map or layout for your website.)

Caution!  Friends or family may not be the best choice to create your website.

Sometimes the results are great and you save a lot of money.  In many cases, the website takes a long time to get finished, or it never gets completed at all.  It may be set up on a system you have no idea how to use and is difficult for another web developer to continue working on.

Other important items.

Think about how you will use the website after it is finished.  Ask your developer to set up a backup system and Google Analytics.  Will they provide you with some kind of instruction manual and/or training session for the website so that you can do many of the updates yourself?

Passwords, logins, renewal dates – keep track of these.

Be sure to know who your domain name was purchased through and who is your website host.  When does your domain name and current hosting contract expire?  Have you signed up for automatic renewals?  Which email(s) did you use for these services?  If the web developer helped set up these systems, be sure to get the information from them before the project is finished.  It can be very difficult and awkward to track down your web developer a year or two later.  (And even more so if you plan to use someone different.)

Stuck on how to get started?

I believe one of the most important parts of any creative brief is a section where you list 2-3 websites you like and two to three you don’t like.  This can be a great way to start thinking about your website.  Make notes for each one as to why you like or don’t like them.  Is it the colours used? The font?  The overall feel?  The information provided?  How easy or difficult is it to find your way around the website?  Including this information really helps communicate your preferences to the web designer.

Although there are other aspects of website development to consider, giving thought to these areas will certainly help you on your journey.

Milkweed Marketing can help you with your website!  If you need a new website, assistance is available to prepare a creative brief, find a website developer and manage the project.  Another option is a website review that includes detailed recommendations on how to improve your existing website.  For more information email

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