Just because your business is local doesn’t mean that you don’t need an online presence. Whether you’re running a restaurant, managing a brick-and-mortar store, or offering a service, customers will find you online, and your website is essential for making a good first impression. The best way to get your website right is to work with a team of professional web designers. Hiring a pro is an investment, so keep these six key tips in mind to make the most of the time, money, and effort you’ll need to dedicate to getting your business online.
Look for a Local, Established Company
As with any service, the best way to get started is to find a web design studio via local search or your professional network. Website design itself isn’t a location-dependent project, but because your business’s market is unique to your area, you’ll benefit from working with a team that’s helped companies like yours succeed. Regional studios understand the design choices and marketing approaches that will resonate with your core customers. Even for a product as universally loved as pizza, location matters; pizza lovers are notorious for having very particular local tastes, so if you’re firing up your pizza ovens in Phoenix, you should be looking for a website designer in Phoenix, too.
Plan Ahead, Prioritize, and Visualize
Before you reach out to a studio, think about your goals for this project. What needs to happen for you to feel like your website is a success? Begin by clarifying how your website will contribute to your business’s growth. For most local businesses, the goal is lead generation: Your site should make visitors want to make a reservation or appointment, email or call for a quote, or visit your store. Knowing your website’s goal allows you to tailor its content and layout to answer customers’ questions and encourage them to take the desired action.
The planning phase is also a great time to start thinking about your design preferences. What would your ideal website look like? Start collecting a list of websites whose design you like, and pay attention to the fonts, colors, and photos they use. When you connect with your design team, information on your aesthetic preferences and functional goals will allow them to get a clearer picture of what you want, which expedites the process and makes it more likely that you’ll be happy with the final product.
Be Realistic About Your Budget
If you’re just launching your business, you probably don’t have a bottomless web design budget. You can still get the job done, but it’s important to be clear with the design team up front about what you’re willing to spend. This is another reason that understanding your goals is so important. You don’t need to spend tens of thousands of dollars on creating an in-depth website to promote your pizzeria; you just need to convey that you sell fresh, tasty pizza at a good price, and tell customers how they can order it.
There are different levels of service available for different budgets, so business owners watching their cash flow can save some money by keeping their websites smaller and more focused. That doesn’t mean that you have to compromise on visual appeal or quality, but you might not be able to afford every single page in your dream layout. Bigger, more established businesses coming online for the first time can leverage a larger budget to add blogs and community management tools to promote content marketing efforts that position them as experts in their field.
Understand What Services Are Offered
Building a website requires not just design skills, but also technical skills, like HTML/CSS coding and stability and security testing. Further, online marketing doesn’t end when your website is built. Your studio should be comfortable with custom code solutions, search engine optimization, and potentially even internet marketing. Many full-service designers offer these services to encourage one-stop shopping, and building a single long-term partnership instead of managing several different service providers can save you time and stress as your business grows. If it’s in your budget, ask your design studio about online marketing tools—they’re a cost-effective way to grow your business.
Collect and Organize Your Assets
To make your website complete, you’ll need to provide your designer with existing assets to add to the layout. Those assets could be any type of content, including but not limited to blog posts, copy, photos, videos, or illustrations. Most businesses already have at least some idea of the information they want to display on their sites, so it’s important to centralize all these items in one place where you—and your design team—can access them effortlessly. This is most easily accomplished with simple cloud storage options or web-based tools like Google Drive. Most designers will be able to work with the tools you have, but if your business doesn’t currently use any online file sharing, ask your designer for a suggestion so they can help you get up and running quickly.
Know Your Responsibilities as a Client
You’ll get the most out of your design partnership by striking a balance between contributing to the design and trusting the experts you’ve hired. As a client, you won’t have to worry about the details of creating and implementing your website, but you still have some responsibilities: You’ll need to be clear about expectations, able to provide required assets, and available to comment on presentations and approve revisions.
Good designers let you set the pace, so plan your timeline around your other responsibilities, and be realistic about when you’ll have time to contribute; after all, you’re hiring professionals because you need to spend most of your time with your business! Tending to your site design is important, so it’s better to have a slower timeline and more room to think things over than to pack another meeting into your day so you can get it done fast. You’ll be more satisfied with both the process and the results.
Bringing your business online with a quality website is indispensable for succeeding in today’s market, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Getting clear on your goals and responsibilities so you can hire the right designer will take the stress out of the project.