What do you need to build a website?
What is your main goal? Are you..
- ..selling a product?
- .. displaying your work to potential clients/employers?
- .. providing more information on a product/event?
- .. promoting something?
- .. blogging?
Having a single goal for your website helps in narrowing the focus so that you never forget the "why". If you're selling jewelry, for example, but also want to have a blog for visitors to read and to be found on Google, you might lose sight of how you want the site to work. Is it a store first or a blog first? Which brings us to the next point..
2. Required Functionality
Once you know why you need a site, think about how it's going to work. If you are selling products you require a site with a payment processor. Do your customers pay via PayPal or credit card? Squarespace has Stripe credit card processing already integrated, but no current PayPal integration. This means you can still use PayPal, but I need to embed each "Add to Cart" button separately and it won't work with the built-in Product Pages. If you're creating a blog, do you want a sidebar that displays recent posts and your bio always visible? Is it really necessary? How important are these things to you? While it's my responsibility as the web designer to advise and implement these kinds of things, it's your responsibility as the client to brainstorm ahead of time and come into our relationship with a somewhat clear idea on what's absolutely necessary and what are just nice extras. Because I know all the templates, I can easily sort out the ones that will or won't work for your purposes by focusing on how the site functions. And as a result of being flexible, you get the opportunity to see the possibilities of your website without staying stuck in a rigid mindset of how it ABSOLUTELY WITHOUT A DOUBT NEEDS to look. I always provide options, but by being open minded and understanding what's not do-or-die you will be happily surprised.
This can mean an existing logo, a few words describing your aesthetic and outlook, or a full blown color scheme. Your look doesn't need to be fleshed out (that's what I do!) but you do need to know what makes you you. This is the angle you want to portray yourself. My brand is immediate upon landing on my site- I'm approachable, relatable and knowledgable (and very fun!). What sets me apart from other web designers is my experience and creativity. Click on any page around here- you can't miss it! I'm unapologetically colorful and honest, which how I come across online.