How to Prepare for Your Web BuildStrategy & Research
So you’ve nailed down your budget, timeline, and signed on the dotted line... Congrats, you’re getting a new website!
At Papercut we work hard to make your web build process an enjoyable learning experience. There are several things you should consider before your project startup that will help your build run as smoothly as possible! We want you to be able to successfully navigate our process and to walk away with a product that provides value for your company for years to come.
Here is our advice for how to best prepare for your project startup:
1. Get the right people around the table.
If you know that your Marketing VP is going to have to sign off on the final product, don’t wait until the entire site is built to show it to them.
Having all key decision makers included from the start is best - even bringing them to the project startup meeting (we call this discovery!), if possible. Bringing everyone to your discovery meeting is ideal, but we understand that those involved in a web build often have a full plate and other priorities - this is okay!
At minimum, be sure to have a conversation before and after discovery including all key decision makers so that you’re able to communicate their desires, and be sure to show them every deliverable that requires an approval along the way. This will help you avoid having to make major changes to the site when it is in later development stages or already built.
The later in the game that you choose to make major changes to design or functionality, the more work required, in turn costing you more money if there are requests that are outside of the scope of the original project and previously approved designs.
Not only are late term changes costly, but have the potential to derail your project and delay your entire project schedule. This is especially important if there is a hard deadline that your company is expecting their new website to launch!
You wouldn’t build a house without approving blueprints first, would you?
2. Spend some time surfing the web with a critical eye.
Look at competitors or industry peers sites and click around. Figure out what you like and don’t like about them - design and user experience wise.
Maybe you love how a site’s navigation stays with you as you scroll down the page (this is known as a sticky navigation!). Maybe you hate how a companies contact information is hard to find. How easy is it to find and download a product spec sheet? Do you think a particular site’s home page layout is too text heavy or has too much negative space? These are all great things to make note of and bring to your project startup.
The design team wants to know your opinion about all of this, and more! You’ll have the opportunity to voice your opinions in the discovery phase when you’re sitting at the table with our team members involved in your web build. Share your thoughts, ask questions, and be open to listen to what they would implement as best practice. As we’ve mentioned here on our blog previously, our designers are thinking of your users first. Putting in some time browsing the web and considering function from a your user’s perspective can really pay off!
3. Know the goals of your website.
What are the primary actions that you want users to take when they come to your site? Do you want them to submit a contact form or request a quote? Is there a spec sheet document or whitepaper on your site that you want them to download? Do you want to be able to capture user data for lead generation?
We need to know ALL of this and we want to use this information to help you succeed! We want to be able to provide measurable results so that you can see the return on investment in your web build and ongoing digital marketing work. Papercut is focused on results - by learning what the specific results are that you’d like to see, we will find ways to help set you up for success!
4. Be prepared to dedicate time to reviewing the project deliverables and creating your content.
Yes, you’re paying us to do the work, but a web build also requires some work on the client side.
If you’re not prepared to fill the pages of your site with content (all of the text and the images), this will certainly hold up your launch. At the start of your project, we will work with you to develop an architecture for your site that will dictate what the pages on your site are going to look like. You will know if you’ll need to begin gathering product specs or writing new team bios from the start.
Do you need to consider updating professional photography for your website? Are those headshots truly representative of the people on your team your customers or clients will encounter? Has your building had a major renovation and currently unrecognizable from the pictures on your website? You’ll need to factor the time these will take into your timeline, too, in order to have imagery prepared by the content due date.
Remember to be upfront with your agency about the time approvals will take. If you are able to review and provide feedback at a fast pace, great. If not, that’s okay, too, but we should plan for that. Also, if you already know that you have a 2 week vacation planned in the middle of the project schedule, we’re happy to work around that, but telling us upfront is always best!
Don’t forget… You deserve credit for the time and effort you put into the project, too - May we recommend celebrating with nachos?! That is our preferred site launch reward, and yes, we’ve consumed a lot of nachos at Papercut. Ask us whose nachos we think are the best!
5. Ask questions!
If you’re unsure of some terminology being used or what’s going on in the project, your account manager (aka: ME) is only an email or phone call away! If there are questions I can’t answer, our team of experts have my back and are more than willing to break it down for us. We are always happy to help and never want you to feel like you’re in the weeds.
We want you to walk away from this process feeling confident about your awesome new website and your newly learned skills managing your website, too. At Papercut, we consider ourselves an extension of your company and we love to plug in and help create digital strategy and tools that will help you thrive and make your life better!