If you’re having a new website created, this article is for you.
After building dozens of websites, we’ve compiled a list of the best ways to prepare for a new website so you can feel confident you’re doing all you can to have the optimal experience during this process.
Do: Save All Media Files On Your Current/Older Site
If you’re like most everyone with a website, you have images, documents, and even videos saved on the backend of your site. Download them and save them to your computer so that if the photos are not being used on your new site, you won’t have to worry about them being lost.
Most website designers will request or prefer if you send them these files so that they can ensure they are implementing it on the site, but it never hurts to keep a copy yourself.
Don’t: Ask Your Website Designer to Back Up Your Files
We’ve all heard the saying that some things are just easier if you do it yourself. If you really want files saved, save them yourself so that you are positive it’s exactly what you want and you’re not dealing with a middle person.
If you’re not sure how to save or download them, search your question on Google, such as “How to export media on WordPress/Squarespace/Wix/Weebly/Etc.” and usually there are clear instructions for you based on which platform you are using for your current site.
Do: Keep a List of Your Plugins
Not all plugins will need to be used, but it never hurts to have a list saved with what they are and any access codes needed to access them again on your new site.
Don’t: Assume You Need All Plugins
Plugins take up space. It’s not fair, they just do and there’s nothing we can do about it as website designers or marketers. People tend to overload their website with plugins thinking, “I may need this someday!”
Just deactivate it. It will still be available if you need it in the future.
Be mindful of what plugins you’re downloading, too. You may be using five different plugins to do something that one plugin could do. Your website designer or marketing firm may be able to help guide you on which ones are most important for your particular site. Don’t go too crazy – Google won’t be happy with the slow speed it can create on your site.
Do: Keep a List of All Your Current URLs
When you get a new site, it’s important that you keep all your URLs the same as your current site – this is not the time to change your URLs.
Google will have to index all the URLs for your new site, so if you change it, you’ll lose any traffic at all that you had from your old site. And if you really need to change them, make sure your website designer knows that you are planning on redirecting URLs – they may be able to help you with this.
The best thing that you can do is keep a list somewhere on your computer so that even after your site is live, you can see where redirects are needed (if, for example, you removed a page) or a URL needs to be fixed. And your website designer will appreciate it all the more if you share these with them.
Don’t: Assume Your Website Designer Will Keep All Your URLs the Same
Unfortunately, not all website designers will know to keep your URLs the same.
To avoid this, make sure you have your list of URLs ready to share and are specific that they have to stay the same. It wouldn’t be fun for anyone if URLs had to be completely changed once your new site is live.
Do: Plan to Write Some Fresh Content
This is the perfect time to update and add on some new content onto your site. Content is not only appealing to your users but also appealing to Google. I would go as far as to say that Google loves content.
Did you know that it’s recommended all your pages are at least 2,000 words? We don’t expect readers to always want to read that, but Google does. And well, Google is the way to people finding your website – so we think it’s better safe than sorry.
Don’t: Duplicate Content From Somewhere Else
I feel this is an important thing to note in all of this. If you do plan to update your content, make sure it is original. Sites like plagscan.com or copyscape.com are great ways to check to see if the content is duplicated based on percentage. Plagscan.com is our favorite here at Capstone Digital Marketing, and what’s great is that you can buy credits for just the content you need to check rather than a monthly or yearly plan that you may not be able to afford.
At CDM, we highly recommend your content is original. If it’s not, what would make someone choose your business over a person with the same content? Google will only try to figure out who wrote it first and rank them ahead of the other business. But with unique content, you can get ahead of your competitors much quicker and easier.
This is a great time to work with a copywriter as well, who will be able to help you ensure your content is completely original – and won’t show up as duplicate content anywhere.
Do: Know that SEO Efforts May Decrease After Your Site is Live
Typically with most websites we do, there is some sort of ranking decrease for a little while as Google begins to index your new site. Do not worry! These things typically fix themselves, so don’t blame your SEO for this.
Don’t: Blame Anyone about SEO Decreases
I say this because while some tend to blame their SEO, it can also go back on the website designer.
You can always make sure that your website designer has kept your H1s and H2s in place on your new site during the site preview or as soon as it is live – it may even be good to note your current keywords for them ahead of time so they can make sure they are still implemented correctly.
Just know that this is very common with a new site, and you should be back on your feet in no time if everything is implemented correctly! You can work with your SEO company to make sure you’re on the right track with this new website, as well.
Do: Focus on Your Brand
As a website designer, this is such a crucial part in being able to accurately design your website. What colors do you want to use? What fonts fit your brand? Consider using a brand board to share with your website designer – they will thank you!
For example, I created this mock brand board:
This will help your website designer learn your particular style with just some colors, fonts, and images.
Don’t: Try to Rebrand Just for this New Website
Typically, a new website plan would be a good idea if you are planning on rebranding, but it usually requires a bit more thought.
You typically have a lot of other elements that include your brand – social media, pamphlets, banners, etc. Rebrand first, then design a new website.
That way you are certain this is what you want, and you’ve compiled a list of your colors, fonts, inspiration, etc. for your website designer, and won’t want to change back mid-design. Plus, you’ll have all your other branding materials set.
Do: Look Around for Websites You Love
Typically your website designer will be able to see your particular style through the websites you share with them that you love. They won’t copy it exactly, but they will be able to pull similar ideas together to create something that fits your business.
Don’t: Tell Your Website Designer to Just Throw Something Together
As much as we would love to be, we aren’t mindreaders and you’re going to have to be clear on what it is that you’d like for your site. Showing your website designer websites that you love is a great way to give them an insight into your mind – without them being an actual mindreader.
Do: Make Sure You’ve Seen Samples from Your Website Designer
Is this website designer even going to be able to create something you love? Ask for samples!
But please note: Website designers are often creating websites that fit that particular client’s style, so even if you don’t like a site, it may be that the client loves it and that was what the requested.
Try to have a broad overview (how they implemented fonts, colors, the client’s brand, images) rather than finding the client’s colors, logo, or images unappealing – since that’s not the website designer’s job.
Don’t: Send Them How-Tos
Nothing is more annoying than someone telling you how to do your job. Think about it – you’ve had years of experience in an area, and someone with little or no experience sends you how-to tips. Leave it to the expert. They have probably already read it or some variation of it anyway.
Do: Share Your Website Goals
What is it you want to accomplish with this new website? Do you want visitors to feel a sense of warmth, professionalism, urgency, etc. when they first get on your site?
And share what you want users to do when they come across your website. Do you want them to book a consultation? Request a quote? Contact you? Buy something?
Be clear so your website designer can design around this idea, rather than trying to fit it in later after it’s already built.
Don’t: Expect Them to Work Miracles
A website designer does one thing: design your website.
They do not…
- Write content
- Edit content
- Guarantee conversions
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Find your target audience
- Anything else that doesn’t include the words “website” and “design”
At Capstone Digital Marketing, we offer many services for all your marketing needs that can help you grow your business. While those things are very helpful, it’s not a part of the same service. A website designer is, at the end of the day, exactly that – a website designer.
Do: Learn Your Audience
When you know your audience, you can accomplish so many things. Brands out there right this very minute are targeting entirely the wrong audience and then wondering why no one is buying their products or contacting them. With the right audience in mind, you’ll be able to share this information with your website designer, and they can help build a website to reach them more accurately.
Don’t: Try to Win Over the Whole World
Your audience can never just be “everyone in the whole world.” Yes, it would be nice if everyone knew you existed and needed your services, but that’s rarely ever the case.
For example, even Apple would love to reach the world, but not everyone needs them or wants their products. So, they have to target a certain group. Apple.com is going to target millennials, current Apple users, business people, and so on.
They understand that their target audience probably isn’t 80 years old that has been using a flip phone for the past 15 years.
Why would Apple waste time focusing on that demographic when they know how much better sales will be with a different target audience? And that’s okay – someone else has targeted the other group.
Do: Be Honest
Hate the page they sent you? Wish you could tell them you want a font changed? Tell them and be honest! There’s nothing worse as a website designer than finding out after a site is completed that a client wanted different things than they originally requested – and usually these changes are wanted once the website is live. Save the headaches for both you and your website designer and be honest with them from the beginning.
Don’t: Be Brutal
Website designers are people too and have feelings (some more than others!). There are nice ways to say things if you don’t like or agree with something. For example:
Scenario: Your website designer sent over a homepage design for your feedback. You hate it. It looks nothing like what you expected.
What you want to say:
This isn’t what I had in mind AT ALL. I’m really disappointed by this. I need you to redo it. I feel like I gave you all the information possible to redo my site and somehow I hate it more than what I currently have. I’m very frustrated by this and would like to have something by next week, since we’ve now wasted time on this horrible design. And what’s with all the typos? That’s so unprofessional. Redo please and thank you.
What you SHOULD say:
Thanks for getting this sent over to me! I think there may have been a bit of miscommunication in what I was looking for in a website. I apologize if I was unclear.
First off, I love that you were able to implement my colors. I’m wondering if we can adjust some of the photos you’ve used? I have a couple in mind – I’ve attached them to this email. Those will better fit my colors and create a more cohesive look with the way you’ve implemented things so far.
I noticed a few typos as well. I’m not sure if those were in my original content, but I’d love to get those fixed. Here are the few typos I’d just like to be changed: [Bulleted List]
I’ll read over my content and make sure that there aren’t any mistakes within my website’s content so you can easily copy and paste it over to the new site!
I thought it might be helpful if I would send you a few more website designs I like so you could just tweak a few things on this homepage preview (like the borders/banners used and button style). Those have been attached.
Thanks for all your hard work! I’m excited to see the revisions. Is there any chance I could get another sneak peek when you’ve finished making those changes so we can make sure we’re on the same page with the design before you continue on with the rest?
Have a great rest of your day!
All the best,
Alright, maybe the first one was a bit harsh. But you may have thought something very similar in the past (you just didn’t write it out into an email – at least, I hope not).
After receiving my bachelor’s degree in Organizational Communication, I learned a lot more than just how to communicate. I learned about communicating professionally and successfully so that you offend less and succeed more at your goal.
Let’s break it down. What does Email #2 have that Email #1 doesn’t (besides politeness)? Two main things. Details and solutions.
Email #2 acknowledges there was a lack in communication. They aren’t blaming the designer for the problem. They set up a solution instead. They address the problems and show ways it can be fixed.
They also remembered that the website designer isn’t a mindreader so they shared even more information, believing that it was a simple miscommunication.
And lastly, they used the sandwich effect. The sandwich effect is the idea that you:
START WITH A POSITIVE
NEGATIVE IN THE MIDDLE
END WITH A POSITIVE
Therefore, it makes a sandwich – and usually helps people be less defensive when receiving criticism.
Do: Share if Something Does or Doesn’t Work for You
Everyone is different and you might find yourself in a different situation than someone else who is receiving the same services. You may realize that you can’t afford a brand new website right now, so ask your website designer if there’s a way to split up the cost. The worst thing that can happen is they say it’s not possible.
Don’t: Expect Special Treatment
If you’re a business owner, you’ve probably run into the client who thinks they should get more than the next guy, and truthfully, that’s not fair to you or anyone else. Your website designer works for a specific fee, so respect that. And if you start requesting extras from the original agreement, expect to pay an additional fee – they have to pay the bills, too.
Do: Ask for a General Timeframe
As a website designer, I wish I could say, “I can guarantee your website will be completed in 4 weeks, 2 days, 2 hours, 34 minutes, and 12 seconds,” but that’s not a reality. If you ask me for a timeframe, I will do my absolute best to meet that, but it’s not guaranteed — unfortunately.
Don’t: Check in Every Couple Weeks
If a timeframe was given to you, understand that everything is being done to meet it and checking in every so often isn’t helping the situation. If anything, it’s making them lose time answering your emails or calls. Be patient, and check in after the given timeframe to see if there’s a delay due to difficulties.
Do: Show off Your Website and Refer Them
Nothing says “I love my website” like some referrals and positive reviews. It may take a few minutes to write something nice out, but your website designer may be more inclined to recommend you as well for someone interested in whatever you’re offering!
You’re a New Website Away From Transforming Your Business
We’re ending on a positive DO this time – just like that sandwich method we talked about earlier.
These steps are designed to help you have the best experience possible when working with a website designer. Your website is your brand and designed to show off YOUR business. It is okay to be picky and have preferences, but there are certain ways to express those so that you end up with something you love – and your website designer will thank you!
Don’t forget to share this post with your fellow business owners and those you know getting a new website.
If you’re a business owner thinking about a new website, let’s chat. We’ve designed dozens of websites for business owners and have seen amazing success from them.
We also offer services, such as SEO, content writing (and no, I’m not the content writer so no worries there!), social media, and more. You can check out our services here: https://capstonedigitalmarketing.com/services/
We’d love to work with you.