So you have decided you need a website. What next?
Before you contact some web designers to get a quote, you will save yourself time, money and trouble by first sitting down and thinking about what you actually need. The more you can "nail down" your requirements, the more likely you are to get a better price, and not be surprised by getting a bill for extras at the end of the project.
First, think about what you want from your website:
Do you want to sell products online, using a shopping cart and some method of accepting payments?
Do you want your site to be a "static" online brochure, showcasing your products or services?
Do you want your site to generate leads & enquiries for you to follow up directly?
Is your site primarily aimed at providing information for existing customers?
Is your site going to be a useable, interactive service e.g. searchable property database?
Now consider how many pages you will need. Web designers will use this as an important factor when quoting you; if you initially ask for too few, you may get a bill for extras. Ask for too many and you may be paying more than you need to.
Think about the titles of the pages you need (as they appear in the site navigation) As a minimum, you will probably need "Home", "About Us" and "Contact Us".
Now give some consideration to the design of the site. Do you have a colour scheme in mind? Do you want some Flash animation? What sort of imagery do you want used? TO get some ideas, surf the Net and note down any websites you find that you like the look of, and give the URL to web designers. This will help them get an idea of what you like.
You should also consider which technical issues are important to you.
Does you site need to be:
* Fast Loading? If your target market are home users, a large proportion may still be on slower dial up internet connections.
* Graphically Intensive? Perhaps you need to appeal to corporate users, by employing a strong, professional design.
* Optimised for a particular screen resolution? Do you want the site to look best on 1024 x 768 resolution screens, or perhaps your target market is more likely to have older PC's with screen settings such as 800x600.
* Updated yourself? If you regularly need to change the text/images of your site, you may need to ask for a quote for a Content Management System (CMS). Ask fort his to be identified as an optional cost, so you can judge if it is cost effective for you. Alternatively, you could purchase web editing software (such as Macromedia Contribute) though you will need to make your web designer aware that this is what you will be doing.
* Aimed at specific end users? Perhaps your target market are printers or music industry professionals, who tend to use Apple Mac computers. If so, make your web designer aware of it – many designers do not pay much attention to checking web sites run correctly on Macs.
By taking a little time to consider the needs of your website, you will help your web designer immensely, getting the site you want at a cost effective price.
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