You've taken the plunge and hired a local designer to build a new website and improve your online presence. Congratulations!
Whether you are a start up or a well established business designing a new website is an exciting time for any business, but it can be scary as you are stepping out of the safety of your area of expertise. As with any project you undertake preparation and collaboration is key, it allows you to get the most value out of your website design partner and makes for an overall smoother process. Start your preparation as early as possible as you don’t want your project experience to feel like a second job on top of your primary duties. Over the last decade I’ve seen many clients struggle throughout the design/redesign process simply because they don't make the effort and just delegate down.
Here are some things to work on in advance for your project kickoff.
1) Client & Website Designer collaboration....let's work together
How are you going to work together? Are the deliverables on track? Clients and website designers can greatly benefit from using project management tools to streamline their collaboration and ensure successful project outcomes. These tools provide a centralised platform where both parties can track tasks, deadlines, and progress in real-time, promoting transparency and accountability.
For clients, project management tools offer visibility into the development process, enabling them to provide timely feedback and make informed decisions. Additionally, these tools facilitate efficient communication, reducing the risk of miscommunication or missed messages. Website designers can use these tools to break down the project into smaller, manageable tasks, set priorities, and allocate resources effectively. Moreover, project management tools help in time tracking and resource management, ensuring projects stay on schedule and within budget. Ultimately, using project management tools fosters better collaboration, improves project organization, and leads to more successful and satisfying outcomes for both clients and website designers. We can recommend the following platforms:
ClickUp.com offers a comprehensive and all-in-one project management solution that brings a multitude of benefits to businesses and teams alike. With its highly customizable interface, ClickUp allows users to tailor their workflows, tasks, and projects to suit their specific needs and preferences. The platform's versatility enables seamless collaboration among team members, facilitating efficient communication and boosting productivity. ClickUp's wide array of features, such as task tracking, document sharing, time tracking, and integrations with popular tools, streamline complex processes and enhance organization across projects. Its user-friendly design ensures easy adoption for teams of all levels of tech-savviness. By providing a centralized workspace for all project-related activities, ClickUp fosters transparency, accountability, and visibility, leading to smoother project execution and improved overall performance for businesses.
Monday.com is a versatile and user-friendly project management and team collaboration platform that offers a plethora of benefits for businesses and teams of all sizes. With its intuitive interface, customizable workflows, and extensive integration options, Monday.com streamlines task tracking, enhances productivity, and fosters effective communication. The platform's visual boards and automation features simplify complex processes, allowing teams to manage projects efficiently and meet deadlines effortlessly. Moreover, Monday.com promotes transparency and accountability among team members, ensuring everyone stays aligned and informed. Its flexibility makes it adaptable to various industries and use cases, enabling organizations to optimize their workflows and achieve greater efficiency, ultimately leading to improved project outcomes and overall team success.
2) Content is king, time to re-wordsmith the content that may be missing or poorly communicated on your current website.
Projects can stall for many reasons, but the most common is because clients struggle to produce their content. Creating quality website content can take a lot of precious time, why not make it a milestone on your delivery timeline. Trust me when I say if you’re planning to update your website copy, you want to start writing as early as possible.
Scan your website and take note of content where you see an opportunity for improvement. Think about how you would rewrite it, note down some ideas or bullet point what you want to say. Don’t worry about perfection, and it’s okay if your thoughts aren’t entirely fleshed out yet (we can do that later). Focus on the essence of what you want to communicate and come back sometime later after you’ve had time to mull it over. You will be amazed at how quickly ideas start coming to mind, and they’ll flood in even when you’re working on something else.
Let’s face it—not everyone can be a skilled copywriter/editor, so don’t be afraid to lean on a professional if writing is not in your wheelhouse. If you struggle with writing content, save some budget for copywriting or, at the very least, copy editing so you can focus on other things.
3) Organize imagery via file sharing.
If you have custom imagery from a photo shoot or a backlog of photos you’re currently using on your website, then now is the perfect time to organize all of it for easy access. I like Dropbox or Google Drive because you can quickly share folders with 3rd parties, but there are numerous other platforms for sharing content. Find what works best for you and your team and send it to your website designer for review. Try to resist using physical USB sticks or hard drives.
Make sure folder names are descriptive and clear, so it’s no mystery what images are inside. I always like it when clients create folders that match primary page names, don't be scared to build out sub folders too. It removes any doubt about where images should live. Also, for images of complex or technical processes, please describe what each image depicts or hint at it in the photo name.
If you don’t have images and hiring a custom photographer is not within your budget, ask for help in sourcing stock photos - check out Unsplash, it's free.. Your website designer can find natural, candid photos that communicate the right emotions for your design.
4) Design assets, style guides, and brand requirements.
Most graphic designers will give you multiple file types of logos and other brand assets at the time of creation, such as custom iconography and graphics. Find your logo in a vector file (such as .svg, .ai, .eps, or .pdf) and share it(see point 2) with your website designer. Stay away from .jpeg logos unless you want it to look blurry. If you can’t find it, reach out to the designer who created your logo and ask for a vector version. It will come in handy for the website project and any other assets you create moving forward, so it’s time well spent.
Also, if you have a brand book or style guide, please send it to your designer to ensure proper handling of your website styles.
5) Google Analytics (GA4)
Reviewing historical data is imperative for optimal website strategy and benchmarking, so it’s worth your time to share your GA account with everyone involved in the website project. While you’re at it, share your Google Tag Manager and Google Search Console as well. Don’t have them? You should. Ask your website designer to set them up for your organization.
Not sure if you have GA account, or where your logins are? If your GA was owned or set up by a previous employee and you’re unable to gain access, you can reach out to Google to reclaim ownership.
Make sure you GA4 compliant!
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the latest version of Google's web analytics platform, introduced in October 2020. It is designed to provide businesses and website owners with more comprehensive insights into user behavior across various digital platforms, including websites, mobile apps, and other connected devices. GA4 focuses on event-based tracking and uses machine learning to offer more advanced analytics and predictive insights. With GA4, data is organized around events, allowing businesses to track specific user interactions and actions more effectively. The platform also provides a more user-centric approach, enabling better understanding of user journeys and behavior across different touchpoints. GA4 also offers enhanced privacy features, making it compliant with evolving data protection regulations. As Google's primary focus shifts towards GA4, it is recommended for businesses and website owners to start using it to take advantage of the platform's advanced tracking and analytics capabilities.
6) Document and organize all login credentials.
Double-check that you have access to your web platforms, such as hosting (or control panel), domain registrar, and DNS. If what I’m talking about sounds foreign, ask your IT person for this information. Sometimes the web host will house everything under one roof, but some websites have separate providers for their web host, registrar, and DNS. Your agency should be able to tell you who to contact if you don’t know where to start but plan to get these logins in order.
Other logins to gather and or set up before the project kickoff:
Agency access to the current site
A to (info@) and from (no-reply@) email for setting up SMTP
CRM or other third-party integration platforms (Airtable, SalesForce, HubSpot, MailChimp, etc.)
When collaborating with your website designer communication is key, and there are so many ways of doing this today. There are many paltforms that allow you to message, video conferencing and good old voice calls! We love using using Slack with MS Teams a close second, find a solution that works for your organisation.
Slack.com offers numerous benefits as a leading communication and collaboration platform for teams. With its real-time messaging capabilities, Slack fosters seamless and instant communication, eliminating the need for cumbersome email chains and enabling quick decision-making. Its intuitive interface and user-friendly features, including channels, direct messaging, file sharing, and integrations with various productivity tools, enhance team efficiency and organization. Slack's searchable message history ensures easy access to past conversations and information, promoting knowledge sharing and reducing redundancy. Additionally, the platform supports integrations with a wide range of third-party applications, allowing teams to centralize their workflow and stay connected to essential tools, ultimately leading to increased productivity, streamlined workflows, and improved team collaboration across organizations of all sizes.
Microsoft Teams offers a powerful and comprehensive suite of collaboration tools that bring numerous benefits to organizations. As an integrated platform, Teams enables seamless communication through chat, video conferencing, and voice calls, fostering real-time collaboration and facilitating remote work. Its versatility extends to file sharing, document collaboration, and integration with other Microsoft 365 apps, streamlining workflows and enhancing productivity. Teams' channels and threaded conversations promote organized discussions, making it easy to access information and maintain context within projects. With features like screen sharing, whiteboarding, and meeting scheduling, Teams provides a robust environment for virtual teamwork, enhancing engagement and fostering a sense of connection among team members. Overall, Microsoft Teams serves as a unified hub for modern workplace communication and collaboration, empowering organizations to work efficiently, stay agile, and achieve their goals effectively.
Time to put in the early effort, it will pay off..
Is there a lot to do? yes. Most clients will chip away at it over time working towards that first agreed deadline. Defining your preferred communication channel first is key. If you’re behind schedule, communicate your timeline for completion as it becomes clear. As the project progresses and deadlines approach (and they approach faster than you think), you’ll thank yourself for taking this extra time to prepare so you don’t have to scramble when it counts the most.