Need a Website?

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Jemima Heard
6 Mins

In 2020, having a website is the most cost-effective way you can:

  • Reinforce the appearance of credibility and professionalism
  • Increase your customer reach
  • Increase brand awareness, sales and marketing efforts - even when you're asleep or away.

Unless you're skilled in coding,UX and UI design, copy-writing and SEO, building a website is a headache. If you have time to learn these skills, great! Linkedin Learning, Codecademy and Google Academy are great places to start. But if you don't have the skills or the time, consider engaging a web designer to help.

Here's some simple steps you should take to ensure that you get the best value from your web designer.

1. Always ask to see a portfolio.

The best places to source web designers are sites like Dribbble, Upwork, or through recommendations from people you know.

Once you’re talking to a web designer, your first enquiry should be about their portfolio.

If their portfolio isn't a website, approach with caution. Whilst there may be legitimate reasons you're provided with a PDF instead of a .com, this could be an indication of inexperience with web design. You want to make sure they can build a functioning website as well as an attractive one.

To avoid disappointment, don't hand over any money before you've seen their portfolio. If you don't like what they've previously produced, you probably won't like what they deliver.

If you know what exact function(s) you want your website to have, ask about their experience building sites with similar specs.If they don’t have this experience (there’s a first time for everything!), be aware that lead time for delivering the site may take longer than you anticipate.

Use sites like Dribbble to get an idea of the style you'd like for your website.

2. Verify who you're speaking to.

Anyone can share a web link and say it belongs to them - that's one of the pitfalls of the internet. Before handing over any money, ask for a video call. Put a face to a name, and checkout their LinkedIn. Don’t be afraid to ask for testimonials or references, either.  

See more tips to avoid becoming a victim of a scam from Nuts And Bolts Media.

3. Look for talent, not location.

Location does not indicate quality. You may be able to get better value for money by hiring from other parts of the country, or even further. 

High London rents could potentially mean higher prices, and website design is the best example of remote-working that exists.

That said, you do get what you pay for. By asking to see a portfolio, you'll ensure to avoid the "buy cheap, buy twice" mistake other business owners have made.

4. Provide a clear brief.

Website designers aren't mind readers. Without briefing them, you'll be asking your web designer to complete this journey blind. This will cause them issues, will give you headaches and will contribute severe amounts to the cost of your project.

Prevent the need for constant amendments by providing a detailed brief for your designer from the get-go.

In your brief, you should include:

  • Who you are, who your business is, what your product is, and any brand guidelines you have.
  • The functions you need your website to perform: EG is it e-commerce? Will it need integrations from other sites? Will it have a blog?
  • What you want your website to achieve. Keep goals realistic by setting SMART objectives.

If you're asking multiple people for quotes on your project, be transparent about how you're choosing the winner.

5. Set a clear budget.

The price of one website can differ greatly from others. It depends on:

  • The purpose of your site
  • How many pages you need
  • What functionality you require
  • Whether you want your website to be completely bespoke or you're happy with something simpler
  • How fast you expect the turnaround to be
  • What integrations you require

There are many other aspects that can increase costs - use of stock imagery, for example.  

Avoid unpleasant surprises by:

  • Being clear with the designer about your budget, and
  • Listening to your designers' advice.

Most web designers charge by the hour, so consider how you can keep down costs. You may be able to do this by:

  • Finding your own stock imagery, or at least
  • Providing guidelines for a stock imagery style
  • Write, proof, and reproof your copy. Getting your copy correct the first time will save you money on minor edits.

If you're writing your own copy, bear in mind that writing for web is very different from other business writing. See some tips for writing for your website here.

Finding your own stock images could help save budget and time.

6. Communicate well.

Providing clear briefs, setting out your budget and ensuring you like what the designer can deliver will all help you to communicate well with your designer.

Your web designer may also end up being a potential customer, so don't scare them off by:

  • Sending many emails at once. Instead, collect your thoughts and send together in one email, bullet-pointed so that they're easy to understand, action and respond to.
  • Failing to keep to business hours. At 8pm on a Friday, it's unlikely your designer is in a position take a call about changing the colour of a button.
  • Trying to negotiate their price down drastically.

7. Here's some other questions you may want to ask before signing a contract:

How long will this project take?

If you’re on a tight deadline, it may be faster for your designer to adapt an existing template to your branding rather than creating a bespoke site.

Will they set up Google Analytics?

Google analytics will help you know how many visitors your site attracts, and the demographics of your site. It’s important to track analytics and analyse them regularly so you can ensure you’re reaching your target market.

How do they determine keywords for sites?

When optimising your site for search engines such as Google, you’ll want to make sure that you include keywords within the website copy. These are words that relevant to your product and business, but also used by potential customers to find what they need on the likes of Google.

Can they enable Google AMP tracking?

This isn’t essential for a website, but Google AMP offers a faster browsing experience for visitors coming to your site on mobile devices.

Studies show that 90% of publishers who enabled AMP are seeing higher click-through rates and 80% of publishers are getting more views.

How much work do they expect from you?

You should, at a minimum, expect to be providing them with the information that’ll go on your website.

Most websites need copy for the following pages:

  • Homepage: A tag line, featured product(s), your points of differentiation  
  • An ‘About’ page: detailing who you are and why you decided to build your business.
  • Product pages: Product or service details and specification, including prices
  • FAQs: Frequently asked questions about your product.

Legally, you’ll also need the following on your website:

  • Business identity details
  • Privacy policy
  • Cookie disclosure (if this isn’t part of your privacy policy)
  • GDPR compliance if you’re collecting information such as emails

E-commerce sites will also need to comply with a range of legislation that includes the online and distance selling regulations, as well as electronic commerce regulations and the consumer rights act.

It’s in your interests to clarify whose responsibility it is to make sure your website has these details.

Need more support as you digitise your business? Check out our resources section for tools and tips.