by Liz DeJesus, Marketing Manager, Stewart Transportation Solutions, Inc.
As a small business, the decision to design or redesign your website is no small undertaking. It’s an extremely time-consuming process with a lot of moving parts. Once you make the decision to embark on the journey, you have no choice but to stick with it. Our redesign journey took us almost 9 months (!!!!) but we learned a lot along the way.
Selecting a Website Design Company
In order to tackle this project and see it through to completion, we knew we needed to be very strategic. We also knew we needed to hire the right design company. We started with a simple list of what we wanted in design company.
- Culture Connection: The relationship needed to feel right. We sought a company that understood our office culture and our company values. We also wanted a company that valued open and honest dialogue.
- Time Management: We needed a company that understood our time constraints and could keep us on track with deadlines, tasks and everything in between.
- Vision: We needed a visionary to bring our ideas to life!
- Expertise: We didn’t just want our website to be pretty, we wanted it to be what we needed in order to be successful. We wanted a company that valued the visual component just as much as all that technical stuff (SEO, analytics, keywords, etc.).
What we needed was Cabedge. We knew from the first meeting that they were the right fit for us. They said all the right things and the best part was, we knew they meant it. They cared about the design just as much as the functionality. They took the time to understand our company, our industry and our values.
Okay, we’ll stop gushing now, but the reality is, the company you pick to design your website is absolutely critical. You’re going to be working with them A LOT so if you don’t mesh and if you don’t feel like you can be honest, it’s not going to work. It just won’t. And if it doesn’t work out, you will have wasted your hard-earned money. No small business can afford that.
The other critical piece of the puzzle is the designer. If you’re not exactly savvy (like us) when it comes to understanding the intricacies of graphic and web design, you probably need a designer who doubles as a mind reader. For instance, your designer needs to be able to make sense of the nonsense that comes out of your mouth when you’re trying to describe some random feature you saw on a random website once upon a time. You need a designer who understands your vision and can bring it all to life.
What You Want vs. What You Need
While we do suggest that you spend a significant amount of time looking at various websites for inspiration and ideas, try to be realistic. You might think you want your website to be the combination of every cool feature you’ve ever come across, complete with all the bells and whistles, but just because it seems cutting-edge, doesn’t mean it’s what you need.
Think about your website design from the user’s perspective. To determine how we wanted our website to look and function, we found it helpful to think about the website features that drive us crazy as users. Here is our list of website pet peeves:
- Homepage Music: You know, you’re in that library-quiet coffee shop, you click a website link and without warning some cheesy, smooth jazz starts blasting from your computer. No, thank you.
- Hoops & Hurdles: You just want information! And you don’t want to watch a video or ad, give out your information, download an article or promise your firstborn child just to get it.
- Mobile Unfriendly: If the user can’t navigate your website on a tablet, then you’ve missed the mark. Your website should be responsive. It should work across all platforms.
- Squished Pages: What’s up with those websites where everything is squished in the middle of the page? We just can’t get on board with tiny font and wasted space.
- Website or a Book? SO.MUCH.COPY. If you want to bore your website visitors to death, or worse, drive them away altogether, you should cram in as much copy as you possibly can, preferably in single-spaced paragraphs on a squished page.
All of this to say – just because it may seem like the coolest design feature in the history of website design, doesn’t mean your visitors will think so. Which leads us to the next piece of the puzzle – understanding your audience.
Stay tuned for the second part of this miniseries and we’ll fill you in on what you need to know (or at least what we think you should know) about messaging, budget and bringing your website baby to life!