While this blog post is meant for those looking into getting a custom-designed website, this can still be mostly applicable for website templates, too!
When do I start looking for a designer? What do I need to do to prepare? What do I need to have ready? ALL the things to think about. I hope this blog post brings a little more clarity to your process when looking for a website designer and what to do before you begin so you’re ready to hit the ground running when you book!
Here are the essentials you need before investing in a website:
1. Professionally branded photography
I cannot overstate the difference between websites with quality custom branded photography vs. either stock photography or, for lack of a better word, crappy blurry photography. It can make ALL the difference and it makes any designer’s life SO much easier when a client brings professional, branded photography to the table at the beginning of a website design project.
If you’re at all in a position to get some branded photos done, please do not hesitate to do this! Even if you have a friend or someone who can take photos for you, they can do so much good for your website.
To learn more about the importance of this and other tips concerning pet business photography, check out the below blog posts:
The importance of having quality photos for your pet business
Most designers (unbeknownst to me at the beginning of my business) do not offer copywriting in conjunction with their websites. That’s crucial to know if you’re planning on working with someone outside of Pet Marketing Unleashed. Sometimes you may have situations where they contract out for you so it doesn’t feel like you’re going to multiple businesses; however, you should still be prepared for copywriting to be an additional cost potentially outside of your website design package.
If you do decide to work with Pet Marketing Unleashed in the future, we do offer copywriting services as part of our website designs as we feel it’s a cohesive part of the website. However, depending on budget, it could still be worth it to hire a copywriter whose full and only specialty is copywriting!
To learn more about copywriting as well as some referrals for amazing copywriters, check out the below:
Natalie from The Brand Copywriter
Unless you’re investing in a full package with a designer who’s going to do your branding and website design package together, you’ll need to have your full branding done prior. Most quality designers will not move forward on a website without the branding completed. Otherwise, they end up doing it for free or not really initiating any cohesive branding at all, which is a lose-lose for both parties!
When investing in branding, you should receive a brand guide, which you can pass on to other professionals you hire whether it’s for a website design, T-shirt design, or any other advertising or print material. That’s what we’ll use to design your website!
Any designer will ask you for testimonials for your new website, so be ready to provide those. I highly recommend pulling the ones you want from your Yelp or Facebook or previous website so the best ones will be used for your new website. Make sure your website designer is also attributing where you got the review from (include that when delivering your testimonials to him/her).
5. Know your timeline/deadline ahead of time
Most clients are ready to start the process right after the call, but most decent designers will be booked out ahead of time, not to mention the time it takes to get the questionnaires and everything completed and in place before the project start date. So if you’re at all thinking about getting a new website sometime in the next several months or even up to a year, start browsing and researching designers and see how long in advance these designers are booking out so you know when you need to take it seriously and initiate the process.
6. Consider how you want to maintain your website in the future
Most designers have a limited number of platforms they use, if they even do offer more than one platform. That’s a huge deciding factor when looking for a designer. If you KNOW you want to use Wix for your website, you should make sure the designers you are looking into actually offer Wix website designs or if they only work with a different platform.
Most designers have resources on their blog on why they use the platform they do so that can be a great place to start and compare into what platform you want to use!
We use Wix for varied reasons, but mainly because it's SUPER easy to maintain long-term, making it a great choice for people of all experience levels.
Here’s a blog post on why I selected the platform I use:
7. Your budget - at least an estimate
Most designers will at least have ranges on their website of what their website design packages are. It’s always good to know if someone is 100% out of your range before reaching out so that you don’t waste your own time or their time!
It’s always best to have some sort of idea of budget before heading into this, so that way you can begin saving, begin researching, comparing designers, etc. My advice? Pick a designer in that middle range or soft spot unless you have a high budget (and even then, maybe the most expensive designer isn’t the right fit for you). If someone is super inexpensive, you may wonder why that’s the case. If someone is super high, it may just plain be out of range. Someone in the middle likely has a good balance of experience, skills, and accommodations when it comes to small businesses!
When it comes to Pet Marketing Unleashed, we knew from the beginning that we wanted to work with smaller businesses. Sometimes that means lower budgets and that’s okay with us. We’re serving who we want to serve.
Keep in mind you want to find a designer with who you resonate. So, while you can remove those who are 100% out of price range and those who seem a littttttle too inexperienced or inexpensive, for the remaining options out there, begin to look through their portfolio, see what their mission is, and see who you resonate with most! Hop on the phone with multiple and go from there. Once you remove the ones out of your range (on both spectrums) you can remove budget as a factor and select the designer that’s the best fit for you and your pet business!
Boom. There ya have it!
If you want to explore what it’s like to work with Pet Marketing Unleashed, we have a blog post that goes into the whole process here. You can also learn more about our branding and website design package right here! Otherwise, happy designer (or website) searching!!