There are sooo many things to consider when hiring a website designer. Do you have good vibes with each other? Do you like their design style? Do you trust their expertise? Are they available when you're ready to get started?
And therein lies a key question - are you actually ready to hire a website designer?
As I’m sure you are too, I’m intimately familiar with the struggle of balancing All The Things that go into managing and running a business. If you’re anything like me, you’ll routinely completely overestimate how much time there is in a day, and exactly how much you can get done in that time.
That’s why it’s important to be prepared for what’s coming when you decide to engage a website designer. Since nailing your design depends so much on your buy-in (especially in the early stages), and how quickly (and well) you’re able to provide feedback, it’s important to ensure there’s time in your schedule for the extra work.
Of course, there is a lot to be said for contacting your ideal designer before you’re ready - since design projects can take months (sometimes years!), your designer might book out well in advance. They’ll all have their own requirements for what’s needed for them to get started, so definitely try and start the conversation as early as you can.
But if you feel you’re ready to get started now and have a looming deadline in mind, take a look at what I recommend you have ready to go when engaging a website designer!
A brand suite
Your brand suite should include a logo, a colour palette and font selection as a minimum and may include multiple logo variations, web-safe colour usage guidelines, patterns, illustrations and images as a bonus. Even better if you also have an actual brand guidelines document, showcasing how your brand suite can be used in different situations. A brand guidelines document is actually so important for ensuring you have brand consistency from print to social media to website.
I usually recommend asking your brand designer if your colours and fonts are web-safe while you’re working with them so there are no surprises when it comes time to engage a website designer. However, if that ship has sailed, your website designer should be able to ensure your website meets the minimum standards for web content accessibility!
Don’t have a brand suite yet? Bundle my brand design services with your website design package for something truly remarkable >
(And since I’m all about accessibility, being “web-safe” will be baked into your brand from the very beginning!)
A bit of marketing data!
Sorry to tell ya, but your website designer is probably going to ask you some data-driven questions about your business such as:
- Who is your current audience?
- Who is your ideal audience? (Is that different to your current audience for some reason?)
- Who are your key competitors?
- How many people visit your website per month?
- Which pages or blog posts do they visit the most?
- What do you think are the most important pages on your website?
Things like that! A lot of this you should hopefully already know as part of your wider marketing strategy, and a lot of it you can find out by accessing your existing Google Analytics account. If you have an actual marketing or business strategy document to share, even better!
But even if you don’t know any of this yet, now is the time to think it through and ensure you’ll be able to communicate that with your designer. There’s only so much a designer can do to create a strategic user-focussed website by using their assumptions only!
In this context, copy refers to the actual words on your website. For me, I like the copy creation process to be a collaborative process with your copywriter, to ensure your website is truly user-friendly and search-engine-friendly. But it’s also great if you already have it ready to go before the project even starts!
Whether it’s created in collaboration with your website designer or not, it’s important to leave a realistic amount of time before your ideal launch date for creating the copy. It’s important to remember that copywriting isn’t actually part of the designer’s job, but it is essential for building a user-journey focussed website that converts your ideal people.
If there is one thing that is consistent across the board for websites that have failed to launch on time, it is website copy (imagery is a close second though!) Writing for a website is hard work, and the time and effort that goes into it, is constantly underestimated.
(Not to keep banging on about my own services, but I have a team of trusted copywriters that I work with for both Shopify design and service-based website design! Rolling us together means your ideal launch date is unlikely to be missed.)
Inspiration, likes and dislikes, and mood boards
“But, I don’t know what I like!”
I hear ya!
To be honest, it’s often easier to think about what you don’t like versus what you do like, so I totally get that gathering inspiration from other websites can sometimes feel impossible. But even that baseline of what not to do can be an essential starting point for your designer.
As part of the collaborative discovery and strategy process, your website designer will pull together everything they’ve learnt about you, your peers and your competitors together with your likes and dislikes for a seamless design that just screams YOU.
So whether you know what you like or not, spend a bit of time scrolling through Pinterest and checking out what your competitors and peers are doing, before sharing all of it with your designer. Trust me - they won’t get annoyed with you for not being able to put it into words and just sending a bunch of website or Pinterest board links instead! It’s their job to identify the common thread between it all and turn that into something remarkable.
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that any design project is (or should be) a collaborative process that requires your time and your commitment in order to be successful. (Especially if you have a hard launch date in mind!) The sooner you can get in touch with your designer to confirm their availability and requirements, the better.
(And if you’re here because I’m your ideal designer, the perfect time to get in touch is right now! Go on - I’d love to hear from you.)