Although some people are perfectly happy to start work with nothing more than a hammer and a rough idea of what they want to do, most people would agree that if you want to build a new house, it's better to start with a proper plan...
First you decide what you want the house for, where you're going to build it, how many rooms it needs, what each room is for, how you access each room and so on. Next, you have to think about what you're going to put in each room. Once all that's done, you can start thinking about what colour the walls and carpets will be.
So, an effective website is a planned website! Before we get started on the design, we ask every client to provide a website design brief. By that, we mean a description of your aims and objectives, a description of what you want the website to do. Depending on your needs, the description doesn't always need to be long, but the more information you give, the better.
As a minimum, you need to describe what you want your website to do, how and why. It is also very useful if you can explain who your target customers are, how the website will be linked to the rest of your business and who your competitors are. This knowledge will help your website designer to ensure that the site, and the page contents, are structured correctly.
It's probably important to say that there is no maximum length for a design brief. Whatever information you give will be useful, because it paints a picture of your needs. The things that your designer thinks are most important will be cut and pasted into a file for reference throughout the design process. The more you say, the less likely it is that you will forget something important!
Start out by telling us something about yourself and your business. You don't need to write an autobiography, just enough so that the designer understands a little about you. Next, tell us what the objectives are for your website, whether they are general or specific goals, what you want the website to do, and how you want to benefit. From experience we can say that in explaining these things, clients almost always include information in a design brief that they forgot to include in their page contents, so it is a useful exercise.
Before you open a shop, you will have an idea, maybe a picture, of who your customers will be. The same should apply to a website. Your whole website, the text it contains, the images you use and even the style of the website needs to be created with your target customers in mind. For example, if you have a cattery, you're almost certainly looking at cat owners in certain towns or areas that surround your business. Say what those areas and towns are. What do you think your customers will be looking for and what will they want to know about your business and facilities? Having identified your target visitors, what do you want them to do? Again, using a cattery website as an example, do you want people to contact you online or make online bookings, or do you want them to come and visit your cattery? These things affect how your website is structured.
This might include a multitude of items. Some will be things you plan to supply, like photos and videos. Others might be things we need to create or edit. If you want it on your website you need to tell your designer about it!
If you want us to design a replacement for an existing website, give us details of the existing website, and then answer these questions as well as you can.