What To Expect When Hiring a Web Designer

If you're reading this, chances are you've realized how involved effective web design really is - the technicals can be tedious, the possibilities overwhelming - and forget about having to keep up with all the best practices and keep an eye on the constantly evolving trends, right? We get it. It's enough to give any business owner a headache. You're serious about your company and seeing real results, so you want to make sure it's done right. So you're ready to begin the process of hiring an expert to help you create a website for your business. Smart thinking. What should you expect in the process? What should you be contributing to the project? How does everything come together?

Here are steps taken straight from our web design process at The KR Agency. We're hoping this gives you a behind-the-scenes look at how a client and web designer work together to design a website that actually serves as an asset to the business - one that generates leads, creates conversions, and boosts sales and/or engagement for your company. While different designers and agencies have different processes that they find work best based on their skill level, operations, and preferences, these steps are what you can expect when you hire us to design your website.

Step One: Goals and Alignment. Don't jump into color palettes just yet. We'll first hold one or two exploratory meetings, or perhaps schedule one meeting and ask you the fill out a questionnaire, to get clarity on your goals. Why are you looking for a new website? What are you looking to achieve - are you looking to step up your game across the board or looking to build out new features? How many leads do you need each month from your site? Is that a reasonable number to attain simply by building a website? How much business do you currently receive from the web? Who does this website need to attract and convert? Who are your buyer personas? How do they make buying decisions? Does your company have an established brand? What does that look like and how do you interact with potential customers online now?

These are all questions we'll ask, and many of these are questions that we'll provide some thought leadership in helping you answer if you need it. Every business has different goals, needs, audiences, and brands with different voices. We'll need to understand who you are and what you're trying to accomplish in order to come up with the right game plan for your site.

What to expect: Questions. Lots of 'em.

What we need from you: Insight into your business and your clients. You'll also want to begin gathering your client materials such as website copy (text), photos, logos, videos, and any other materials you'd like on your site. We'll need these for Step Three! If you need help with copywriting or copyediting, we can also do that for you, as an additional service. The best way to organize the website's content is by page (Homepage, About Us, Services, etc.) in a Word document.

Step Two: Planning. Lots of Planning.

Now that we have more information and have helped you come up with your goals, we can begin to put an internal plan in place. We'll develop your buyer personas based on your target audience so we know who your website needs to resonate with and attract. It's key to remember that the site isn't built around your preferences as a business owner, or our preferences as individuals who happen to work at a design agency. It's built to serve those buyer personas and prospective customers - those most likely to purchase your products or services. Throughout the design process, we will constantly be keeping that audience in mind as we build and will encourage you to do the same.

Most web designers don't do this, but we believe that polishing or creating the visual components of your brand is absolutely key before creating a proper presence anywhere online - especially when creating a website. We'll establish your brand's voice and provide suggestions around color and font that are strongly rooted in color psychology, sales psychology and typography. If you have never worked with a marketer or branding specialist in creating your brand before, we strongly recommend you take these suggestions seriously as they're a product of a great deal of thought and attention paid to the psychology of your target audience. Your font choices should not be about who you are as person, but about what will appeal most to your audience. We'll help you come up with font pairings that are modern, relevant to your business, and that make people feel what you want them to feel in order to compel them to stick around your site to learn more and ultimately, take a course of action. At this point, we'll discuss and come to terms on your branding and overall feeling that your company should get across.

If we haven't already done so, we'll recommend to you how many pages would be best for your needs and what each page should cover. We'll plan for certain features and functionalities to be included (with your input, of course) and think through how they'll best integrate with the rest of your website.

What to expect: A collaborative discussion about how to best craft your brand and a number of recommendations after much thought, research, and deliberation from us

What we need from you: Study competitor and industry websites. Bring ideas to the table as well as an open mind when it comes to branding recommendations. Don't wed yourself to any of your ideas just yet; really listen to what's being presented to you.

Step Three: Design 1.0. This is where we receive your content, evaluate it thoroughly, and put digital pen to paper and create a first draft of your website to give you an idea of the direction we'd like to go. Unlike many designers, we like to have all content (text, photos, videos, etc.) by this point so that we can design around you to fit your content rather than you sending us content that must fit within the box of what we design - this gives you more freedom!

A few clients may prefer we incorporate their design suggestions in this first draft (colors, layout of pages, etc.), but most leave it up to us to use our creativity, expertise, and knowledge of best practices to come up with precisely how we think their site should look based on previous discussions we've had. Unless you happen to be highly experienced in graphic or digital design, we strongly recommend the latter approach rather than the former. We're unique in that we build this draft as a live site - it will include the content you've provided, there will be links to visit and on-page interaction so that our clients can get the full experience firsthand of what it'll feel like to a visitor as they explore. We'll then send you a link to your site - it's still not yet accessible to the general public; it sits on an developmental server until it's finished updating and will only be accessible to those who have the specific URL we've sent you. From here, we'll want feedback. What updates do you want made for our next round? We'll send you a master spreadsheet that you'll use to input your edits and comments - we find organization's key in this process and would rather not leave any of your comments up to interpretation and it's the easiest way to make sure none get lost in the sea of correspondence.

This is typically the time a number of misconceptions come up about web design from clients. So we may need to discuss some of the changes you want made. That's totally okay; we're here to provide expert insight. If there's something you want changed or added that goes against modern web design or general design best practices, we will strongly advocate on behalf of the best practice. Our guidance is wholly based on what the market says actually works for your specific target audience, not what our personal preferences are. Because our clients take their businesses very seriously, they have faith in our expertise and are very open to receiving guidance and shifting course in the event that we do point out red flags with their changes - and that's the way we prefer it. We won't write you a thesis paper or draft a Powerpoint presentation on why your edit is detrimental to an effective website and we won't debate with you either, but we will guide and provide alternative suggestions and insight to make sure your website remains effective and converts well.

What to expect: The initial first draft may take up to 2.5 weeks.

What we need from you: A critical mind, but an open one as well - really take in our thoughts; you've hired your designer to use their expertise to guide you - get your money's worth! And we need your feedback, of course. We're here to listen.

Step Four: Design 1.1. At this stage, we'll digest your feedback and ensure all edits align with best practices and will resonate with your audience while still keeping true to your brand. Once we've incorporated any changes, we'll notify you for review. If there's anything else you'd like modified or added, we'll again make sure your requests line up with best practices regarding modern web design and then discuss where necessary and incorporate changes.

What to expect: Generally, updates can take anywhere from a few days to 2 weeks, depending on the changes and additions requested. We're almost there!

What we need from you: Your feedback. Also, now's a good time to purchase your hosting plan if you haven't already. We typically go over these options with all of our prospective clients before they even sign on with us.

Step Five: Testing, Mobile Optimization, and Final Approval. You've got yourself a new website! How stoked are you? All that's left is testing, mobile optimization, and approval. We prefer to leave mobile optimization for next to last to ensure the desktop version of your site is precisely how you want it. In this stage, we'll take the design you've approved and create a mobile version of your site that will facilitate in conversions when it comes to your mobile viewers (which these days, accounts for 65 to 75% of your website traffic for most industries). We'll also want to make sure that the functions of each page (web forms, e-commerce platforms, etc.) are working the way they're supposed to and that the right contact at your company is being notified where necessary. We'll also test across web browsers and make sure there isn't anything wonky; each browser renders code in a slightly different way. And not only each browser, but web designers have to account for each version of a particular browser. We code in a way that is compatible with most modern browsers and then implement specific fixes for certain elements where needed.

What to expect: This process takes about 2 to 3 days. In the meantime, give yourself a pat on the back - you've rocked this!

What we need from you: Patience. The website looks ready, but we're perfectionists. This is the time where we review the smallest of details in terms of visuals and in terms of what's going on behind the scenes.

Step Six: The Launch. Let's talk about your domain and hosting. Your domain is the URL you've reserved; this is where your website will live. In our case, it's krdesignagency.com. Your domain will need to point to the hosting account where all your files are stored.

Now that it's live, we like to empower our clients to be able to make changes on their own, without ever having to pay us again (aside from your next re-design, which we recommend you do every 2 to 3 years). This means we'll sit down with you and show you the ins and outs of your platform, so you can create blog posts, switch out photos, add new products if you have an e-commerce site, and update content to your heart's content. Naturally, if you're pressed for time or simply prefer an expert handle it, we're still here to help you out. But we won't ever require that you work through us to get this kind of stuff done.

What to expect: Training jam-packed with knowledge.

What we need from you: Just an hour of your time to show you the ropes of your site.

Ready to discuss launching your first website or a website redesign? Let's do this. The KR Agency offers a free discovery call to learn more about you and see whether we're the right fit for your business. Click here to get the ball rolling and get scheduled!

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