Getting Started: To-dos before your website project

Getting Started: To-dos before your website project

"What do we need to do to get started?" It's one of the most frequent questions I get asked, and it's definitely one of the best questions I get asked. First of all, it means we're going to be doing business together. Second of all, it lets me lay a good foundation for our design and project management teams to be successful from the very beginning of the design process.

So, I thought it might be nice to provide a list of to-dos before starting your website project with us (or with anyone, really). Of course, there are specifics to each organization that get discussed on an individual basis, but here are some good general guidelines (think of something we left out? Let us know in the comments section below!).

Decide who will be responsible for making design decisions

This one sounds like a no-brainer, and for most organizations, it is! This doesn't mean you can't have a team or committee in charge of overseeing the project and making design recommendations. It simply means that you've got a gameplan for who will review the proofs and who will give feedback on the design. Deciding this up-front will keep you from missing valuable input during the Discovery stages of the process.

Track down your (vector) logo files

This comes highly recommended. When your organization had its logo designed, it's very likely that the logo was delivered in a vector file format (most commonly .ai or .eps). Tracking down your logo file in its original vector format will make your creative team's day (we'll probably send you cupcakes) because we won't have to work with a rasterized file format that can pixelate or distort. Of course, if all you can find is a .jpg file, we're more than capable of making it work! Don't have a logo (or not happy with your logo)? Let us know. We'd be happy to put together some concepts for you.

Plan your content

I know, I know... this smells suspiciously like homework, but you'll be glad you took the time on the front-end to have your content updated and planned out. Completing all of your content is not absolutely necessary to get the website started, but it's highly recommended that you have at least started the process. As we develop your website, we'll provide and discuss a new sitemap, but we find many of our clients are so eager to get the website design completed, that they've neglected to polish or update their content (even though we've been reminding them to do so). Once the design is ready to launch, they're caught with several days/weeks of content updates that delay the launch of their incredible new website. As a side note: do you have a team working to write/update content? You might consider signing up for a free or cheap project management system account (Basecamp, for example) for your team to collaborate on content.

Think about your photos

Many websites feature photos (how profound - just bear with me). Do you have photos that you would like for us to use? If so, go ahead and begin gathering them. Do your photos have pictures of people in them? If so, make sure you have photo release forms from the folks in the pictures (when you send photos our way, we assume that you've taken care of this step). Please also note, pictures of minors require a photo release form signed by a parent/guardian. Do you need photos taken? Let us know, and we can probably recommend a photographer in your area. If necessary, we have access to extensive stock photo libraries as well. 

None of the ideas above are so profound that you would have never thought of them on your own, but if you can check a few of these items off your list as you are getting started with a new website design, your design team will love you for being so well prepared. As I said before, I'm sure there are other items that could go on this list, so feel free to add your suggestions in the comments below!

Posted by Matt Roberts at 8:40 AM