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Things to do before hiring a web designer

14 September 2021 • Filed under Web design

It’s finally time for hiring a web designer and bring your project online, how exciting! And then you start having all the questions: where do I start? What should I do before hiring a web designer? What comes first to build a website with purpose?

If you believe getting in touch with a website designer will be your only task, you’re thinking wrong! Too many times as a web designer I see clients assuming I’ll be the one who takes care of it all: images, copy, SEO and everything in between…

A web designer is the professional figure that takes care of, you guessed it – Your. Website. Design. He’s not a brand photographer, nor a copywriter, nor a SEO expert. He’ll help you craft the best user experience possible based on your goals and the materials you provide. He’ll use design to infuse your website with your unique personality.

If you are thinking of creating your website, get ready for a lot of work behind-the-scenes. Chances are your web designer will accompany you in this process. But it’s wise to have a general idea of what to expect anyway.

And if you wish to work with me anytime in the future, this post is for you to understand what goes on behind-the-scenes even before we start designing your new website!

Here are the things I recommend doing before hiring a web designer:

  1. Analyze your website goals
  2. Build a website tree
  3. Have a solid brand identity
  4. Commission your brand photography
  5. Prepare your website copy
  6. Bonus: hire a SEO expert
1. Analyze your website goals

One of the first questions of my discovery questionnaire is about website goals. This because, when designing a website, it’s important to know there’s an exact strategy injected into each solution, one working towards your website goals.

I generally suggest to have one main website goal and, if necessary, a secondary goal. The main goal could be selling products if you have an ecommerce or maybe getting inquiries about your services. The secondary goal could be getting more newsletter subscribers, sending visitors to the blog or having users to download a freebie.

Having your website goals in mind will help you and your web designer craft purposeful designs for your web pages. But not just that. It allows you to pick the right designer for your needs or ask the right questions to a professional.

2. Build a website tree

A site tree is the representation of the browsing structure for a website. I suggest you create one as soon as you’ve identified your website goals, to make sure all your pages serve your general mission.

I like to accompany my clients in this process and provide two different site tree options for them to pick based on the website study we’ve just done.

3. Have a solid brand identity

A web designer is also not (always) a brand designer. In the case the web design service you’re purchasing doesn’t include branding, it assumes you already have a logo, some brand colors and ideally a font palette and additional designs like illustrations, patterns, textures. These are the elements your web designer will use to infuse your website with your brand’s unique personality. They’re the ingredients to make sure your site is personal and on-brand.

In my case, by proposing myself as brand and web designer, I always include branding in my packages. This allows me to follow the client from the very get-go, creating a brand identity that’s fully reflected in his website and in any other platforms or promotional materials.

Things to do before hiring a web designer - Miel Café Design
4. Commission your brand photography

Once you have your brand identity and site tree defined, it’s time to start creating the materials that will populate your web pages. I usually suggest to start with your brand photography, which should be ready before you start working with a web designer. Your brand photography should be coherent with your color palette and your site tree will help you imagine what type of images you need and how many pictures you should ask for.

5. Prepare your website copy

Together with the brand photography, website copy should be ready before you start working with a web designer. Right after hiring a web designer it might be a good time to start looking for a copywriter if you prefer not taking care of your website copy yourself. Or, if you love writing and decide to write your own website copy, you can ask your web designer some tips on what to include into each page.

By preparing images and copy before working at the web design, you’re making sure there’ll be no delays in the process, and the web design will be adapted to elevate your brilliant images and words instead of the opposite.

6. Bonus: hire an SEO expert

SEO is a fundamental aspect of any website. Although you can work at your website’s SEO anytime, I highly recommend hiring an SEO expert to work alongside your web designer. This to make sure you won’t need any substantial alteration to your website once it’s already live, as it’s all be done and well-optimized before the launch.

Although SEO is part of the web design process (a lot of SEO factors are linked to design like responsiveness, page speed, image optimization, user experience, readability), a web designer is not usually an SEO expert and won’t be the one who optimize your contents and URLs with selected keywords. But most web designers will be happy to implement a SEO study if it’s done before or in parallel to their work.

Now that you know what to expect you’re ready to embark on the mission of hiring the web designer perfect for your needs. As you can imagine, working on these many fronts can take more time than expected. This is why I recommend booking a slot with a web designer at least 3-4 months in advance. I like to think of the web design work as a team job with my clients, and it really is! My job is to shed light upon their brilliant behind-the-scenes efforts.

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