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5 things you (the client) need to know

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I’ve been creating websites for about 12 years now (almost 6 years professionally), and there’s something I’ve noticed: clients never seem to be fully prepared, especially the ones who are getting their first website. After a client asked recently for a checklist of what they needed to do, I decided to make a list of the most common things I’ve noticed clients learn the hard way.

1. Involvement

Making a website takes a lot of involvement on your part. From creating the design to choosing the domain name, it’s up to you to call the shots. Quite often I’ve had to help a client because they didn’t know what decision is best, so don’t worry about getting stuck, that’s what you’ve hired me for. And if you need help, just ask.

2. Content

This includes both text and images. This is when you figure out what exactly you want on the pages of your website. If you are a good writer you could write all the text for your site. If you aren’t the best writer, or don’t have the time needed to put into writing the content for your site, ask your web company if they can take care of it. Often if you provide a rough outline along with some information you want included your web company will either have someone on staff or freelancing for them that can create polished copy for your website. Remember, if you have something that you think would work on the site but aren’t 100% sure, send it anyway. It’s better to only have half of what you send end up on your finished website then have a website that looks half finished.

3. Time

A quality website takes time to build. In fact, you will probably want to stay away from companies that promise things quickly (generally hours or days), since they tend to focus more on the number of projects completed than the quality of those projects. Instead, find a company that will take the time to figure out what you want before starting on your project, and take the time to make your project what you want. After all, you are the one paying for it. But don’t go nuts. Often companies will cap the number of revisions so people don’t have a design revised 2 dozen times before settling on the second revision.

4. Long Term

Your site is live, and you have a steady flow of traffic. But you’re not done yet. Your website needs to be kept up to date. We’d like to see our clients update their website once a week or more, but often that’s just not possible. Either they don’t have the time to update their website weekly, or they just don’t have anything to update. So, we like to see updates at least every few months, and at a minimum once a year. Make sure that you keep track of the traffic to and on your website. Often this will help you figure out what on your site needs to be changed in the next update.

5. Cost

By now you’ve probably figured out that building a website takes a good chunk of your time, but it also takes a lot of time to actually make the website. And time = money. How much a website costs is a simple matter of how much time a web company puts into a website and how much they charge for that time, along with other costs such as hosting and domains. Something to keep in mind is higher cost does not always equal better quality, and lower cost doesn’t always equal lower quality. I’ve known people who spend thousands on a simple site and end up regretting it, and others who spend a few hundred and walk away with exactly what they wanted. Don’t base your decision only on cost.

A website takes both time and money, and it’s often something you’ll use for at least a few years. Don’t rush it, don’t cut corners, and go with someone who will work with you to create the website you want.