Posted on: 08/02/2018
Hiring a creative agency to build a new website for your business can feel a little daunting – particularly if you’re not versed in the ‘dark arts’ of web design. Here, Paul Brickles, digital development manager at Manchester-based creative agency 90degrees helpfully demystifies the entire process, with particular emphasis on what your role should be.
1. Identify Why You Need a Website
Assuming you’re not in the business of flogging umbrellas and knock-off Fingerlings down Market Street, it’s pretty much a given that your company needs a website. But beyond getting your name and contact details onto the web, what do you actually need your website to do for you?
Is it there to sell a service or a product? Does it exist to entertain or engage an audience? Is it intended to dazzle visitors into thinking you’re the coolest company ever? Clearly identifying the key objectives you require of your new website is the first step to ensuring you get the end product you want.
2. Don’t Get Too Caught Up in What Everybody Else is Doing
While snooping around your rivals’ online presence is irresistible, it’s important not to get too side-tracked by them – or envious of them! Directly cribbing website ideas from the competition is never a good look, and a good creative agency will be able to find alternative ways of doing things that are a perfect fit for your business while allowing you to stand out from the crowd.
Be a wolf, not a sheep!
3. Discuss Your Business with Your Creative Agency
If the team putting your website together are worth their salt, they’ll want to know everything about your business: how long you’ve been going, what makes you unique, who your customers are, what new markets you’d like to tap into, etc.
Having gained an insight into what your company is, where it’s been and where it’s going, the team should be able to make suggestions regarding your new website that hadn’t previously occurred to you, or you weren’t even aware were possible.
4. Review Your Current Assets
In close collaboration with your chosen creative agency, go over every piece of collateral that relates to the way in which you present your business to the world: your imagery, your messaging, your logo, the typefaces you use, the works.
Be ruthless! If anything feels like it needs updating or rethinking, then now – before your new online presence goes live – is the time to do it. This, in part, is exactly what you’re paying your agency for.
5. Collaborate on a Wireframe
The creative agency’s digital team will next create a wireframe – essentially a blueprint of your website, detailing its sections, the way they fit together, and the manner in which users will ‘journey’ around them.
All the pretty design work is yet to come, so you won’t be gasping at the wireframe’s beauty – but it’s important you take a good look over it to ensure that it meets your objectives. Don’t be afraid to speak up – this stage is all about the digital team making any necessary adjustments to the wireframe before moving ahead with it.
6. Look Over the Design
Once the wireframe has been signed off, the design team will start dropping their elements into place – typography, colours, imagery, possibly animation or video, if you’ve requested it. Once again, you need to look over the website that’s forming before your eyes and decide if it’s what you initially had in mind; if it’s how you imagined the wireframe being fleshed out; and if it represents your company in a manner that you’re happy with.
7. Brace for the Build!
This is the point at which everything starts getting bolted together to create the final, working website. Depending on how the agency you’ve hired operates, either they’ll ask you to look over the website when it reaches certain milestones of the build process, or they’ll wait to unveil the finished product to you upon completion. If you’d much prefer one option of those over the other, it’s usually best to say so before the build begins in earnest.
8. Test it
The agency’s digital team will handle the technical testing of your new website, ensuring there are no bugs and that it runs smoothly on all Windows, iOS and Android devices. They’ll also test out the ‘user journey’ – possibly using dedicated user groups – to ensure that the website achieves the original objectives you laid out for it: can users easily access the information they need to, for example, or buy the products they’re looking for, or search for the videos they’re after?
9. Test it Some More!
It’s important, however, that you do some testing of your own, perhaps using some of your own staff, or even friends or family. Set some simple tasks for them to perform – finding a specific product, for example, or seeking out your contact form – and then see how easily they can complete them. If there are any issues to be dealt with – be they minor or major – then now’s the time to get them sorted, before your swanky new site’s big launch.
10. Be Prepared to Go Backwards to Go Forwards
A website is an adaptable, evolving thing, and by no means set in stone – that’s the huge advantage of it over, say, a printed brochure. If at any point in the process detailed above you feel like the site is drifting away from what you’re after, it’s vital that you say so, and as early on as you can: building a website is a little like steering an ocean liner, the further it drifts off-course, the longer it’ll take to correct.
So don’t be afraid to tell your creative agency if you’ve got doubts or concerns – sometimes, going backwards one, two, even three steps is the quickest route forwards.
11. Launch Your New Website in Style
As you’re doubtless aware, simply building a website and expecting people to seek it out of their own accord isn’t necessarily the smartest option – there are more than one billion websites out there, so you’ll need a strategy for getting yours noticed, whether that’s through SEO wizardry, paid marketing (Google AdWords, Facebook Ads and so on) or a combination of both.
The digital team at the creative agency you’ve hired will help you forge an effective strategy for making yourself visible online – and they’ll remain on hand to test that said strategy is working as intended.
Onwards and upwards!
Paul Brickles is the digital development manager at 90degrees and got the team around the table to share their thoughts. 90degrees is a Manchester-based creative communications agency, specialising in bringing the built environment to life.Go back to Top Ten Tips