*there are some affiliate links in this article, meaning that I might receive a payment if you use them. 

Preparing for your first or new website is exciting and a great next step for your business, but it can also be a little overwhelming. Wether you do it yourself or hire a web designer (like me!) to support you it’s important that you gather a few things and get really clear on the vision you have.

In this post I’ll give you an overview of the questions you can ask yourself to help you prepare a great brief.

Which platform is the best for your web design project?

For me, without a doubt, it’s WordPress.org. To me WordPress.org is easy to handle, incredibly flexible in terms of design and there are thousands of plug ins that let enable you to extend its functionality. Be aware that WordPress.com is a little different – this is a platform that hosts WordPress for you, which might make the process a little easier, but also offers you less freedom. For most entrepreneurs it’s best to go with WordPress.org as it offers much more flexibility and scope for growth. 

Which WordPress theme should I choose?

I personally love Divi by Elegant Themes – it’s the most popular theme on the market and offers a wealth of ready made layouts to work with as well as the possibility to create something very unique with the drag and drop builder. Customer care is great and Divi integrates well with all kinds of other software that you might want to use to build your business with courses or memberships for example. 

When looking for a theme that you like I would recommend to see how flexible it is and how much easily understandable documentation you will have access to. Very often you can see a demo online and it might be good to chat to customer care just to see how responsive and helpful they are. You also want to make sure that there is a view of updates in the years to come so that you are not stuck with an outdated theme after spending a lot of time working on your site.

Where do I start with branding?

Colours, images, fonts and symbols are a beautiful opportunity to share your visions and ideas non-verbally and let your audience connect with you on a deeper level. To create a professional first impression, it’s important to be clear, consistent and appealing to your target audience. A good place to start is doing some research on other people and organisations whose online presence you love – what colours are they using? What is resonating with you? Next I would recommend to start picking your core colours – Design Seeds is a great resource for colour palette inspiration and over at Colour Lovers you can create your own compositions.

When you’re working with a web designer you’ll likely receive an intake form that will allow you to get clearer on your ideas and preferences. To give you an idea of what that can look like here are the questions I usually ask my clients:

  • How do you want people to feel when they first come to your site?
  • What colours, symbols or design elements do you feel would best represent your business vision?
  • Can you show me other websites (from my portfolio or elsewhere) that you love and tell me a bit about what you enjoy about them?
  • Where do you want to draw attention? What is your most important message?

 

Can I do this myself or should I hire someone?

Good question! I would say this really depends on how much experience you have with web design, what your budget is, how much time you’re willing to invest and how quickly you want to launch. I do think that the technological developments of the past few years have made DIY projects a bit easier, but I also often see business owners getting stuck with a half-finished project that gives them website shame. Ultimately I think a website is a major priority for any entrepreneur – without a compelling, well converting site it will be hard to get things off the ground.

If you do want to hire a web designer I would recommend to shop around, look very closely at portfolios and ask around for recommendations.

How do I brief a web designer?

Every web designer is different of course, but generally I would say the following steps are great:

  • Be as specific as possible and give examples of websites that you love. If you are really unsure, say so and see if you can get extra guidance on creating a brief
  • Think about the functionality and the user experience you want for your website in addition to the wishes on the design you are communicating
  • Prepare your content for the agreed start date – you will usually need your copy for each page, your hosting account and the images you want to use ready (or let them know that you want to work with stock images). If you are unsure about writing your own copy, I can highly recommend Sophy Dale’s course Write your Site. Be realistic about your own schedule and your ability to provide content and feedback to avoid delays for both you and the designer. 
  • Be very clear on your expectations and make sure to sign an agreement with a project outline and deadlines. If you need additional services such as an e-commerce set up, social media campaigns or ongoing tech support, make sure to negotiate the conditions before you start.

 

Where can I find great stock images to create my own graphics?

These are some great sites to find free stock images:

httpss://unsplash.com/

httpss://www.pexels.com

https://www.lifeofpix.com/

If you are looking for more specific photographs and/or want to prioritise diversity it might be good to invest in premium images from a place like Creative Market.

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