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Your website is the online storefront of your business. It’s the way you present yourself to the world online and represents a good chunk of the first impressions you make on prospective clients and customers. So naturally, you want to make sure this part of your business is represented as effectively as possible online.

Looking for a website designer can be quite daunting.  There are many options to consider when deciding how to build your website and what direction to go in. These include which website platforms to work on, DIY options, e-commerce, etc. Deciding which direction to go can be overwhelming, so here are some tips to help you decide the best plan of action when building (or rebuilding) your website.

1. Look for a professional portfolio

As you search for a website designer, make sure to take a careful look at their current website. Can you tell if it was designed professionally, or did they use a template? If it’s a stock template website, the chances are what they build for you won’t be better than what they have for themselves. Also, take a look at their portfolio. It should showcase their most recent works, which can help you gauge their style as well as what sort of client base they have.

2. Know your goals & priorities for your website

Educating yourself is important before contacting anyone for any service.  In the website design world, there are different types of websites that can be built from a basic landing page to a complete e-commerce website.  Do you want to sell products online, or is your website going to mainly serve as a place where people will come to see your products or services? This is crucial for a website designer to know before they start building, as the structure in the back end will be very different depending on your needs.

It’s also a great idea to do some research online for websites you like to show to your website designer as examples. Maybe you like the way one website’s navigation/menu is set up, but like the way another one is laid out with their main slider images. It’s all helpful information for your designer.

3. Make a website wishlist

Bringing everything to the table before the project begins is super helpful to make the smoothest process possible. If you think of things later, there is a chance that your website designer may charge extra for modifications after the website’s wireframe has already been built.

If you already have a website [delete built], let the designer know which platform you’re using and what modifications you would like to make on it. If you’re building a website from scratch, that leads to an entirely different conversation. The former focuses on updating and improving a current structure, while the latter involves creating an entirely new vision.

4. Have a budget in mind

A budget is one of the first things that you should discuss with your website designer. This determines a huge chunk of what’s possible in the build, because time = money. The more complex the website, the more time it will take the website designer to build and complete the project.

A good way to prepare for this is to do some research and ask around for the going rate for a website. When you do this, just keep in mind that every agency and designer will have a different level of experience and websites vary greatly in size and complexity.

Another helpful tidbit: do some research to see what websites look like — and then check to see who built the sites. More often than not, a website designer will put “Website by ______” at the very bottom of the site they design. If there’s nothing there, there’s no harm in reaching out to the company to ask.

5. Be prepared with content

This is a big one. Being prepared with your own content for the website is a crucial first step, and one that can slow down the website build exponentially if not done thoroughly.

Always keep in mind the your website designer is not responsible for creating content unless they have a copyright/content creator on staff. This is because the website designer is focused on building functional websites, and probably has little or no training in your area of expertise. You know the most about your field and can provide the content for the designer to plug in. This process should be a fairly smooth as you and the designer work together with you providing the content and the designer finding places to plug it in.

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