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How to prepare for developing a new website

matt-willson
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Your business doesn’t commission a new website every week. Probably once every 3 years, maybe even less often.

Personally, you’ll probably only do this a couple of times in your career and what seems simple at the outset soon becomes daunting – but it doesn’t need to be, with a little preparation.

The good news is that we do this all the time – so here’s our guide for preparing to build your business’s new website. Set this out on paper before you meet with your web designer, agree it amongst the decision-makers, and everyone will reap the rewards.

We’ve broken it down into three areas…

1. Context

Why do you want a new website?
Did you identify a (new) business need?
Is your competition looking more professional than you?
Do you feel your company image is outdated?
Or are you just bored with your current site (don’t worry – we hear this a lot).

What is your business?
What it does, how long it’s been doing it, and where you’re headed?

Who are your competitors (direct and indirect)?

What’s your business plan?

How does a successful website impact on the business plan?

What is the hierarchy of priorities for the website?
Including products and/or services in terms of volume or margin, business efficiency, such as customer experience.

What are your personal preferences?
Other websites you like – and ones you don’t like – but please, don’t say that you want a site like Apple’s – this phrase has been overused and is never really what you want. (it’s right for Apple and most likely not for your business)
Colours and combinations you like and don’t like

When does the website need to be ready?

2. Process

Who are the decisions makers?
The people who need to approve designs, functionality & wording.

Who are the influencers?
People whose advice you trust
People with relevant experience*

* take our advice here – decide in advance who’s qualified to advise you, and don’t be tempted to send out the website just before it launches to all and sundry to ask for opinions. As the (polite version of the) saying goes – “opinions are like armpits, everyone has them and they usually stink”.

What resources can you provide?
Help with the words – you may want to write all the words yourself, or just get the ball rolling with the basics
Relevant images – of your staff, your location, your products
Examples of your work – from simple images to full case studies

3. Discovery

Who are your target customers?
Why are they interested in what you sell?
What are their needs, hopes and fears relating to this decision?

How do you sell your products / service to them?
What benefits are they looking for in their ideal product / service?
What features are they looking for?
In a nutshell, why choose you over the competition?

So now you’re prepared to start the process of getting your new business website – that process will include a briefing meeting (and usually a document, too) where you and your website designer will discuss and agree together what will be done – and the work you’ve done answering the questions here will make this a clear and productive meeting.

Resources and templates

Because we’ve done this a lot, we’ve created some templates that you may find useful – please download them and use them – they’re free and will help you get the best out of the process.

Preparing for a New Business Website
Download 
Download a Word version here.

New Website Questionnaire: all the important questions to answer
Download 
Download a Word version here

Creative Brief Template: for anything from a rebranding, logo to a brochure or advert
Download 
Download a Word version here