How to Tackle a Website Design

How to Tackle a Website Design


You’ve been tasked with managing the build of your new website. So, where do you start? A vague brief can cause delays because your designers and developers aren’t creating the vision you had in your mind. But, give them a brief that’s too prescriptive and you could stifle their creativity, landing up with something that’s just…bleh.

Related: How To Make Your Website Sing

Here are my tips on how to create a winning brief for your website design:

1. Get your logo or CI sorted first

The look and feel of your branding will heavily influence what your website looks like. Your website designer could provide both your branding and your website, but it’s better to be 100% happy with your logo and corporate identity before moving on to your site design.

2. Do your research

Spend a few hours finding websites you like. These could be competitors, companies within your industry or they could be completely unrelated. Single out what you like about them, whether it’s the scrolling banners on the one or the Contact page on the other.

3. Get recommendations

Ask around and see if any of your friends, family or work associates can recommend a design company. Word-of-mouth is often the best way of finding the right company for your needs, whether you need a large development team or a freelancer who may be more cost effective.

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4. You get what you pay for

Good work costs money, so be prepared to invest a reasonable amount in your new site – after all it can be your most powerful sales tool.

A cheaply designed website may be kinder on your pockets now, but you may end up having to redo it in a year’s time because it doesn’t meet your needs.

5. Confirm the structure

Write out the number of pages and various sub-sections you’ll need and how they’ll flow into each other, as well as the content you want included in each section. For example, you may want your company’s Twitter feed to display on your home page.

6. Lock down timings

Be very clear about timings and ask when you could expect to see the first draft. Chase up your developers if deadlines are not met so you can keep the ball rolling.

7. Write it down

You may think that you and your developers are on the same page after a meeting but details get lost. Write everything down (feedback, changes etc), circulate it and get everyone to agree.

8. Manage expectations

Check what is included in the price, e.g. two sets of reverts, and be sure that you feed back in a way that sticks to the budget so you don’t incur extra costs.

Related: Website Design Considerations

9. Don’t panic

Building a website is a collaborative effort so don’t panic if you don’t like the first draft. Be constructive with any feedback, pointing out what you don’t like about something instead of just saying you don’t like it. If necessary, meet in person or over Skype to explain your reasoning.

10. Launch when you’re 85% happy

There are always going to be more tweaks to be done, but many of these can be completed once the site is live. Sometimes you just need to launch and then edit from there, otherwise you’ll delay launch date to eternity and beyond.

Belinda Mountain
Belinda is a copywriter and marketing professional who graduated with a Business Science degree from UCT and is the co-founder of Black Mountain. Having spent eight years in the UK working for international publishing houses Penguin Books and Harlequin, she has an intense appreciation for the power of words, while her marketing background means she understands how to speak to consumers in a way that converts them into customers.

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