So, you’re finally ready to leave the world of DIY design and hire a web designer. That’s so exciting. Congrats.
Switching from DIY to professional design services can elevate your brand in a way you aren’t trained to do. Web designers know how to create a site that will get you more social engagement, more newsletter followers, and more product sales.
Hold up. Wait a minute.
Before you reach out to a designer, you need a few things ready and waiting so the web design process is smooth sailing. The following are equally important and in no particular order.
Get your content house in order
You absolutely need content before seeking web design. Having content already gives your designer something to work with. They can gauge which design your eye naturally likes and what you are missing. It’s easier to determine where a subscription box needs to be if you’ve already created content.
This content can be blog posts, website products, portfolio posts/galleries, or video/podcast posts. You need something a little more than a landing page and a few social media handles. Sorry, fam.
If you have no content yet, work for 3-6 months on creating content consistently, then circle back to a designer. It is not your designer’s responsibility to pull this content from your social media handles. If you expect them to do so expect a higher rate.
Gotta have some copy
Copy is the text that goes on your website. It describes who you are, what you do, what services you offer, etc. Your website copy is often based on your website goals (discussed later).
You can’t just hire a web designer and expect them to source your bio from social media. Write a crisp bio (in first person), a professional bio (in third person), and descriptions for your blog, services, podcast, etc.
Pay for your hosting
Website hosting is the service/company that hosts your website files. Without it, there is no where to store your website.
You absolutely need hosting beyond your wordpress.com, blogger, or medium blog. Popular hosting companies include: Squarespace, GoDaddy, Bluehost (my fave), and Dreamhost.
When you sign up (for any host excluding Squarespace), do not sign up for managed hosting. Get website hosting. Also, do not choose the cheapest package. Usually the mid-level package is the best value for your money.
Do not signup for site backup, email, or web design builders without a web designer’s say so. There are many ways these services can be programmed into your website without you having to pay extra.
Find a newsletter service
Whether you are sending a newsletter now, or not, you need to sign up for a newsletter service. Typically the service you use will give you code that should be programmed into your website up front.
I ask that all my clients sign up for newsletter providers because they cannot depend on social media to send consistent traffic to their site forever. It is wise to start collecting email addresses and names immediately. That way when you’re ready to venture into email as a marketing tactic you aren’t talking to a list of 4 people.
Some popular choices include: Convertkit, Mailchimp, an Madmimi
Figure out your goals
You need some goals for your website. Your goals will directly determine the structure of your site, the look of the homepage, and the layout of the pages.
If your website’s purpose is to sell products, you’d want a website with a product list on the homepage and a customized cart and checkout page. Your web designer will not be able to provide these things to you if you don’t communicate these goals up front.
If you’re struggling with business, or blog, goals, I have a business plan guide in my design shop that I made to help you.
Gather some patience
Last, but certainly not least, you need some patience before reaching out to a web designer. Under no circumstance should you reach out to a designer for a custom design with a deadline of 3 weeks or less. You won’t receive their best work, nor will you receive the best product for your money.
Some web designers can produce sites in 1 month, but you have got to have everything on this list ready to go in order for that timeline to hold.
Also, please don’t reach out to a designer for a 1 month project during major holiday periods. Plan out your quarters in advance. If you know you want a new site by January 1st, plan to have the design project started no later than October 1st.
A web designer once told me: some things can’t be rushed. 9 women can’t make a baby in 1 month.