[Big Cheese Expertise Guest Post] Hi, my name is Davey Podmore and I’m a Designer/Director at AVIDD Design. Most start-ups like you want and need an online presence, so here’s my guide to everything you need to know about choosing and working with a website design agency.
Want a website for your brand?
Creating the perfect website for a new brand can be a daunting process. It requires good planning for the process to run smoothly and achieve the required results on both sides.
This guide explains the whole process before you even start choosing or working with a website design agency, to ensure you have the information ready that they will need from you, whilst allowing you to gain an understanding of what to expect in return.
The process of creating your website
- The website design agency will meet you to discuss your brief. This may evolve during that meeting but you will need a clear idea of what your website needs to achieve. It is helpful if you supply the agency with examples of sites you admire at this point to help the creative juices flow;
- The agency should audit your current website if you have one;
- They will ask for any assets you have including images, logos, and brand guidelines;
- They will then design and present an agreed number of concepts for key pages;
- After feedback, your chosen concept will be developed. A sitemap will be created that is signed off by you and displays navigation through your website;
- There will be a series of amendments as designers take on board your suggestions to tweak the website. The number of amendment sessions can be agreed in advance or left open. But it’s worth checking to ensure there are no surprise cost implications at a later date;
- On signing off the design, the website design agency will commence the website build. Once the build is underway any structural changes may incur additional charges should you now change your mind;
- The agency will provide access to the staging site for review. The website will not yet be live but you will be able to navigate through;
- There should be a testing stage before the site goes live;
- The agency should now give you training so that on a daily basis you can access the site and add news and products;
- Migration to final hosting by the agency and your site will go live.
- YOU: What the agency needs from you to make the process as simple as it can be.
- WEBSITE DESIGN AGENCY: What you should expect from them to make sure the site is the best it can be.
You can even go as far as to develop a brand persona – a fictional person to represent your brand, complete with a clear tone of voice and mission statement to guide the way you present that brand in future.
This is a checklist of what an agency will expect from you at various stages of the project. Some of these things may not be relevant but they are still worth considering.
- Current Domain name and hosting details (if a site already exists)
- Company details – contact, location, company registration number
- Brand guidelines and colours
- High-quality images – both lifestyle imagery and product photography
- Vector format logos, graphics and icons
- High-quality video content
- Unique text content in a digital format such as a word document. This should be original and not copied from other websites. It should be proof-read and tone of voice checked. See guide below for tips on writing great content
- Affiliates, associations, accreditations, trade body details and logos
- Social media URLs
- Google analytics account details
- SEO Titles and page descriptions
- Usernames, email address and roles for website editors
- Keywords – what will users search for? What terms would you like to rank for?
- Terms and conditions
Finally, we suggest a copy deck of your products so that copy can be linked to images and information about your products is constant.
The web guys don’t know your products like you do, so make it simple for them by creating a spreadsheet containing product name, code and descriptions. They can lift this information and place it into the website. If you title the corresponding product image with the product code too, the whole process will be simplified.
Tips on writing great content for your website
- All content should be proof-read to make sure there are no spelling or grammatical errors. Tone of voice should be consistent throughout the site and appropriate for the audience.
- Identify the words and phrases that your visitors will be searching for, then use these phrases as the starting point for writing your content. This should always be based on research and not assumptions.
- Incorporating relevant keywords is essential but should always be done in a natural way so that it doesn’t have a negative effect on the readability of your content. Never bulk up with keywords for the sake of it.
- Where possible, make sure the content is engaging, exciting and positive. Avoid writing in a passive voice. And keep the subject before the object in a sentence e.g AVIDD is my favourite design agency. Not: my favourite design agency is AVIDD
- Structure the content to make it easier to read. Use headers, subheaders, lists and citations to break up the content. Keep paragraphs short – three to five lines.
- Include links in the content, both internal links to other pages and external links to other sites. Make the words be the links. Don’t show the actual hyperlink – they look ugly and you are missing out on SEO value.
- The content on your page is by far the most important factor in getting your website highly ranked on Google. SEO – search engine optimisation – is a long-term commitment. There are no magic bullets but bearing these factors in mind can ensure you are on the right track. Always take a content first approach – the design of the site should fit the content, not the other way round.
- Your content should always be:
- Appropriate for your audience
WEBSITE DESIGN AGENCY
What you should realistically expect your website design agency to deliver with your website:
- Compatibility – a website that supports modern browsers:
– Internet Explorer 10+
– Microsoft Edge
– Google Chrome
– Safari 6+
– iOS 7+
– Android Browser 4.4+
- Accessibility – WCAG 2.0 Level A
- Compliance – GDPR
- Training in the Content Management System so you can add products and news using pre-created templates
- On-going management – this may or not be the case, you need to ask if this is included
All brands are different and unique, that’s why all websites need to be bespoke. This is a generic overview of the design and build website process, but we hope it will set you on your way. The best thing to do is find a website design agency that you gel with and trust. Ask them any questions you need answering before or during the process.
A good agency will be happy to talk things through with you explaining anything you don’t understand. It should never be “them and us” – it should be a collaboration.
That way you get an incredible website and they get a piece of work they are proud to say they created.
AVIDD Design is currently offering packages to start-ups to help with the process of setting up a new business with a website as a key part:
- Package 1. Pine:- £1,800 includes a logo, business card and a 3-page website
- Package 2. Plum:- £2,100 includes a logo, business card, letter heading and a 5-page website
- Package 3. Emerald:- £2,600 includes a logo, a suite of stationery and a 7-page website
All packages include hosting and domain registration for 2 years.
An e-commerce bolt-on giving you the ability to sell your products online can be added to any of the packages for £500.
Flexible Payment Options
As a start-up, we understand budgets can be tight. This is why we’re offering two payment plans. One of which includes a small upfront fee with manageable monthly payments paid over a 24 month period.
- Option 1 based on the Pine package
- 50% upfront = £825
- Remaining 50% payable on completion £825
- Total payable = £1800
- Option 2 based on the Pine package
- Upfront payment = £360
- 24 months – £75 per month
- Total payable = £2160
After the 24 months is up, the hosting fee of £15 per month is still required. This includes: hosting of your website, technical support, updates to plugins and WordPress updates.
A direct debit is required on the flexible payment plan. If payments are not received it could result in your website being taken down and your email disabled.
More food for thought…
Hey, Charlotte here, thanks for reading through to the end! If you enjoyed this, you’ll also love ‘How to find and share your brand’s personality‘ and ‘How to find a great designer for branding and packaging‘.
Or, hang out with us for a bit longer and try out my 10-day free trial in The Smoothie Bar – I’ll teach you how to do your own responsive PR in only 10 mins a day!
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