Essential Things to have ready before you hire a Web site Designer

Hello all

Just a little missive to all and sundry of " Things to have handy before you hire a designer ". I have an entire questionnaire that outlines just about everything you need ... but I write this because many clients are well, ... not ready for the site to be built and much time must be spent seeking basic must have information, which slows the process down considerably. All the rest of required info, can be gathered as you go ... these however one must have to even get started.

So therefore, my own little must have list for potential site holders and tips for how to make the process of site creation easier on both you, and your designer.

Business sites

1. Images ... have clear clean images of any and all products you want to sell.

This means full sized images, not just tiny nails, as most products need large views ... so have clear large views ready of everything you want to sell. Get in as tight on the object as possible, unless the background is important. Be sure the entire object is in view, well lit, in focus and in its real colors for display. ( This is assuming that YOU, the one who wants the site, is taking the images, if you are a 3rd party vendor with a drop shipper, the best you can do is give the designer what the drop shipper provides, and they will do the best they can with them ) However, if you are the one taking the images ....

Make sure all the images are the same size if at all possible, otherwise your designer will have problems making thumbnails of them, as most nail programs will keep the image proportions. If you start out with say a 3 by 4 photo format, stay with a 3 by 4 for all of them. The same goes for orientation, keep the camera at the same view point, if you turn it to shoot a long or tall object for example, and everything else is its normal view, the new image is now a 4 by 3 which is NOT the same thing for display of the thumbnails, unless you want them to put it in sideways :).

This is acceptable to a degree, as you will see in my own galleries, but all the ones that are tall, compared to wide, are the same size tall, so present well visually. Do not crop the background off the image to fit the product, as you just create even more differences in sizes.

If they are not the same size ... on display you will have nails of different sizes on the page, which depending on how widely they vary in size, can look very odd or worse you force your designer into spending hours finding a nail size that they can use for all of the product, that looks decent. Or even worse they must force the odd sized nails into the size of the most common, distorting the object.

If there are colors as options, give the designer swatches, if not full images of all the possible colors of those items so they can display them to your viewer. Take an image up close of the real thing. Do not give them a hex color value as that is just an approximation. Remember your buyer expects that what they see, is what they get. Make sure you give your designer the images they need to properly represent your goods.

Fill the image with the product in as much as possible, if you back up and have a ton of background, when they make a thumbnail of it, the product will disappear into tiny oblivion.

I happen to be a graphics designer as well as web designer so can counter a lot of these image issues but do not make the assumption that any designer can or will fix such issues. Most will use the images just as you handed them over. It's your site, how do you want it to look ?

2. Inventory list ... have a complete write up of product names, descriptions, colors, sizes, scents and prices.

Your designer cannot set up the page or your shopping cart without this information. Having a complete list with all of your goods, in order, and in an easy to copy format, will shorten the process considerably.

Do not hand your designer a database file, as doing a copy paste from such files is cumbersome and error prone. If you force your designer to have to hand copy each and every single entry out of a data base file, or an unordered list, they will not be pleased with you and neither will your wallet for all the hours of work they will bill you for. The same goes for PDF files, Power point presentations, word documents with images embedded, Word brochures etc.

PPS and Word with images embedded, might help to present your basic ideas and desires, but the designer cannot use those files to recreate your ideas on a web page via copy paste coming out of them. Images once in Word, don't come out of Word, like wise PPS or PDF files, fine for ideas, useless to transfer to a web page directly.

A simple text file, one you can open in any notepad, with the goods listed, in order of category or type, just as you want them to appear on the page by preference, with clear properly spelled names, options and prices will help them best. If you want product numbers, be sure to provide them as you go.

3. Know the sales talk you want to have included with the products.

What are the little sales pitch bits you want under the images ? This is your site, it should sound like you ... not your web designer. You have your personal style of selling, give it to your designer so the site sells as you want it to sell. The same goes for any other write up, it should be you and you alone that determine this, your designer is the hands to create the layout and display, it's your job to give them the words to put on it. ( if you are a 3rd party provider with a drop shipper, then give your designer your drop shippers descriptions if they are reasonable )

This also means pages like, your about us page, privacy, refund polices, all these things need to be spelled out, in detail. Be sure to check the spelling and grammar on such pages, most designers will run such things by a spell checker just on GP, but spell checkers don't catch all errors, so read your copy, out loud preferably, or use a "read it to me" software, to " hear"  the text copy. Then, when it's right for style, spelling, grammar, then send it to your designer. Unless you are willing to pay for custom text writing, and or editing work, most designers will put it up the text ... pretty much as you give it to them. So be certain of how it looks and sounds, before you send the file to them.

Now, most good site designers will make changes or suggestions with regard to keyword usage and presentation for search engine indexing, as they should, but you have to give them the base line text to start with, before they can make such modifications.

4. Be ready to answer all your designers questions promptly. !!!

There will be questions ... answer them as rapidly as you can.  VERY IMPORTANT
You site can and will be on hold for whatever amount of time you take to reply to your designers questions. Every day you take to reply or delay sending them data, is another day your site sits as a file and waits. Your site designer is not to blame for this delay as there is not a thing they can do about it ... except wait for you.

5. Find a site(s) on the net as examples of how you want the site to look, to give the designer ideas.

It's the easiest way to help your designer get an idea of where you want it to go with the site. Most of us have an idea of what we want, be sure to tell your designer that, as clearly as possible. This will save many hours of create and re create as they struggle to make the page that is in your head. Get it out of your head and into their hands, so they can make pages to match your minds eye view.

Be clear on what parts you like, of any web page you send them to look at, tell them exactly what you like about it, or don't like as the case maybe. Telling them "I want one like this one" is not helpful, as one, they cannot "duplicate" it first off, as that's copyright infringement on another's design, but they can use ideas from it, so tell them what it is about it that you like ...  do you like the colors ? The general layout ? The navigation style ? The fonts ?

Do not generalize, as in " I want a professional look" as that means nothing to your designer, until you tell them what the idea of "professional look" means to you.  So get detailed about it, as much as you can. From this your designer can get an idea of your style preferences, and can then create something along those lines for you.

Understand, also, the ideas in your head, may not  translate well into a web page format, and or, perhaps be good for site usability, search engine indexing etc., if the designer tells you a thing can not be, or should not be done, listen to them and discuss it, before you get your heart set on it.  You hired them, one assumes, because you like their work,  you are paying them for their expertise, as well as the use of their hands, so as the old saying goes, " don't hire a dog, and then do your own barking" meaning, listen to your designers ideas and suggestions, as you tell them what you want.  If they are telling you that X is not a good design idea, it's most often in your best interest to listen to them.

Personal sites

1. Images you want to use ... have them ready and be sure they are clear and sharp.

If the images you want to use are under copyright be sure the designer knows this and can include copyright notices as needed. As above, clear, in focus images ... its your site, if the images are blurry it doesn't display well which is not the designers responsibility. They can only work with what you give them.

2. Have an idea of what you want to say and write it up as clearly as possible.

This is your site. It should sound like you want it to sound, so be as clear as possible in your letter to the world. Give the designer full paragraphs and complete sentences. Spell check it first and read it out loud, does it sound how you want it to sound ? Then send it.

3 as the above rule 5, Find a site on the net that is kind of what you like, to give the designer ideas of how you want it to look.

4. Be ready to answer all your designers questions promptly.

How fast you reply equals how fast your site is up and live ... otherwise it sits as a file waiting for you to come and rescue it.

Now I know this seems rather simplistic, but believe me, as any designer will tell you, getting these things from the client can be the hardest job of all. These are the things that will slow production to a crawl, as without this information the designer cannot do their job, which is make your site.

See more information that one should have handy and figured out before hand on my Questionnaire

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