Web Site Design – A Guide to Getting the Most For Your Money

So you've finally decided to have your web site re-designed. Congratulations! This is an important step in your web site marketing project. A professionally designed web site not only looks good but also helps you share your story with your prospects and customers in a way that compels them to do business with your company.

But between the time you sign the contract and the time your new design finally goes live, there's an important process that must take place to help you convey your wishes to your designer so that he or she can best represent your company.

Most designers will conduct an interview process. They'll ask you your preferences, ask you to choose between different colors, layouts, fonts, styles, etc. And they'll ask you to talk about what's important to your business so that they have a feel for the hierarchy of your products or services.

There usually are not any right or wrong answers – after all, design is a matter of preference and your designer's interest lies in best representing your preferences.

But, there are a few "trick" questions that you'll come across. Here's a cheat sheet to get you through them:

Will there be anyone else involved in the decision-making process?

Your Answer: I will be involved for the website design process. Once the website is finished, I will be bringing in the company president for his / her approval.

Sorry, bad answer. Make no mistake: Your boss will want changes. Even though it's nice for your boss to be able to delegate the project to you, it's critical that he or she takes the time to provide feedback along the way. If you wait until the end to give your boss the opportunity, you will be disappointed. Changes at the end will require major structural modifications that will take a lot of time and cost your company a lot of money. Have all of the decision makers involved all along.

Do you have any color preferences or corporate colors that should be used in your website design?

Your Answer: I really like the color blue.

Okay, but there are a lot of blues. Millions of them, actually. And chances are the blue you mean is a lot different from the blue your designer likes best. It's important to be specific. Give an example of the blue you like or provide the PMS colors if it's a blue you've already used in a logo or other marketing piece. If you're unable to be specific about which blue you prefer, chances are you'll be presented with the wrong blue, adding time and frustration to the project.

Which websites do you like / dislike? Why?

Your Answer: I do not have any.

Well, maybe you do not. Maybe you do not think about it much. But for the sake of this project, you need to spend some time thinking about this. No, your designer will not copy the design but it'll give insight into what elements are important to you so that he / she can present something that will be closer to what you like.

Are you able to supply images displaying your products and services? If so, please specify the images that are most important to your business.

Your Answer: Here are 100 images, pick which ones you want.

Okay, this is a wrong answer. If you do not specify which images best reflect what's most important to your business, your designer is just going to pick the pictures that like best and when you get the design back, you're not going to like it. More than likely the nicest picture is one of your least important products.

Do you have any additional comments or suggestions?

Your answer: No, I'm good. I'll just call you if I think of anything.

Actually this one is wrong too. Just like with bringing in the decision maker at the end of the project, bringing in your comments or suggestions at the end or even part way through can really change the direction of the project. And changing the direction at the end also changes how much the project costs. Remember: Your web site is important. Give it some thought. If you do not have all your thoughts at the time of the interview, that's OK. But do not expect your designer to get started until you provide all of your ideas. Yes, it might hold the project by a few days but a few days now is better than weeks or even months at the end.

Remember : Your designer's goal is to work with you to provide the very best representation of your company's products and services and they can only do that if you participate fully. Take the time to answer their questions thoughtfully and provide the information they ask for. You'll probably still have to suggest a few tweaks after the initial design is presented but if you arm your designer with all the pertinent information right from the start, you can be sure you'll minimize the need for changes and adjustments and maximize your satisfaction with the project from start to finish!