10 Things to Know Before Designing (or Re-Designing) Your Website

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with Personal SEO - Website SEO and Real Estate Marketing
http://actvra.in/56nl

How to get the most out of your web designer, without being annoying ~ BY TIM EMINETH

If you have been in any kind of service business for a while you have run into the “difficult customer". You know the one you can’t make happy no matter how hard you try.

Well, I want to try and give you the in’s and out’s of web design so you can create a great relationship with your designer rather than just using them on your current project and hoping to never speak to them again. (Yes, this happens more than you know).

So here are my 10 steps that you should follow on your next website build or design project.

 

1. NO Designing in the dark!No designing in the dark

Whether you are building a website to generate income or influence visitors, you should have an integral part of creating it. Your brand new website isn’t a surprise,  it is a collaborative effort. You can’t just sit on the side lines and hope your designer will figure it out. You've got to get your hands dirty, ask questions, give opinions and examples of what you like and what you don’t like.

  • Give examples: Before we start any new project with any client no matter how big or small, we ask for 5 websites that they like. Creating a website for someone else is an exercise in communication and reading their mind. If you give me 5 examples of sites that you like you start to answer a lot of questions that your designer would not have to ask. Such as:

i. Colors – Believe it or not, most if not all of your examples will share the same color.
ii. Style – Most of your examples will either be full width or have a boxed layout.
iii. Images – Your examples will either have large clear images or a slide show
iv. Menu Placement and style – Communicating if you like your menu on the left, right or the top or if you like the 3 line hamburger menu (yes that is really what it is called)
v. Layout – This is the general look and feel of the sites as a whole, image placement, CTA buttons, content placement and any additional functionality placement (IDX solutions)

 

2. First Look or Wireframe  - don’t be discouraged.

After you have given examples of what you like your designer may give you a first look or they may give you a 'wireframe'. Understand that this isn’t a finished product. This really isn’t about style and colors. What a wireframe/first look is really about is the designer asking: Am I close?

rough draft of websiteTaking the examples that you have given has already communicated a lot and the wireframe/first look is just a confirmation that your designer has heard you. We designers think like this: "Ok, they like the menu on the top. Check, They like the colors, blue, red and black. Check. They want a slider that takes up half of the home page, Check." So on and so forth throughout your entire home page. This is where I think they want their IDX function, this is where I think they want their call to action. This is the general layout and the site is full of placeholders and temporary images.

This is where you have the chance to discuss layout changes such as the slider takes up too much screen space above the fold; let's put buttons on the slider; let's move the Call to Action above the content or put it in the middle of the content. Just remember that this is layout issues, not color, not content and not pictures - yet.

 

3. I can't emphasize enough the importance of communication.

In any collaborative effort communication is the key. Your designer can’t read your mind -  we try but we can’t. Here is a list of phrases that you should stay away from:

  • It doesn’t look right?communication
  • This can be better
  • This doesn’t look professional
  • I feel like we could bring everything together a bit more
  • These pages still need work
  • Looks like stuff is cut and pasted

All of the above statements may be true but none of them are helpful. Being a little more descriptive will solve a ton of problems.

For example: There seems to be a lot of white space, everything seems blocky, can you tighten up all of the elements.

Giving suggestions is always better than just giving out a blanket statement of disliking. The best case would be to find a page on the net and send that for an example. Again visual tools are the best tools.

 

4. The definition of a web designer. What we do and what we don’t do

It is our job to try and give you a website that you love and will use. It is not our job to create 50 different layouts until you decide that you like one of them. Usually, this ends up being a waste of time and you end up with the first lay out anyway.website design

We are the one designing but we have to do so in a way that works with what you want. We do the work, but you know what you want and like. The vaguer you are in your statements of not liking what your designer is doing the more your designer will ask you questions.

I've heard the phrase, “it is your job to get us close”. The issue is that the client was not communicating what close is. Therefore you end up designing in the dark.

Do you like this? No, How about this? Tell me what you like. ….. That is what we are looking for because we can build off of that.

 

Read More: How to Make Your Website Stand Out!

 

5. Exhausting your designer! Setting standards for all of your pages.

If you have a lot of community pages or city pages on your website and you want a consistent layout it is more effective and less time consuming to get the layout on one page rather changing all of them over and over again.

This is very time-consuming to edit 10 pages over and over again especially if you want the same spacing under images. It is more effective and less time-consuming to get one right and then copy that layout to all of the other pages.

 

6. Understanding the NO.

the no in designSometimes your request might be met with a 'no'. There usually is a reason why or if you have exhausted your designer you will notice that you will get a lot of No’s - LOL. I know, you are probably thinking this is not fair but time is money and if you are taking a lot of time from your developer then eventually they are going to stop making money on your project. I am not saying that your requests are not important but if you are unclear about what you want and the designer has to keep editing your pages over and over again they are no longer making any money on your project and once that happens they will naturally begin to be less enthused to work on your project or even dread answering any more change request that you are making. Bitterness develops here and they won't finish your site as fast as possible so they can move on to the next client that knows how to communicate what they want.

Think of showing a house 18 times to a client that's an hour away from your office. Then they change directions completely and forget that house, but now want to look at another house that's totally different than the first house 20 more times. You get what I'm saying here.

You might get a 'no' because you are asking your designer to break the theme or template. This happens in WordPress in particular and you may not even know it. If you and your designer purchase a theme from ThemeForest then you are confined to the constrictions of that theme, for example.

Another reason for a 'no' is the responsive design. Your request might break the look and feel of your website across all devices (Phone, tablet, etc..)

There are many reasons for the 'no', just make sure that you understand them rather than being upset that you got a NO. Designers know that you are paying for the site but that doesn’t mean you get everything you are asking for because sometimes you don’t really know what you are asking for or how many extra hours it will take to complete.(and this is totally understandable)


7. Designing for YOUR DEVICES ONLY.

Telling a designer that it doesn’t look right on your computer also doesn’t help. Rather, tell your designer the following: I am using a Windows PC/Mac/Linux and when I use Chrome/Firefox/Edge/IE/Safari/Opera (yep there are that many and they are all different depending on what operating system) it does the following. (Insert a screen shot)

designing for mobileAnother helpful thing to know is your screen resolution and or screen size. This is the same with your phone as well. I am using an iPhone/Andriod and this is what is happening. (take a screen shot). Designers are trying to make your site look good on every PC and Browser and Phone.

A client of mine in the past was really frustrated because he was seeing something completely different than I was. I eventually got to the point I just remotely connected to his computer to find out that he was looking at all websites zoomed in, and he had a bunch of tools bars and viruses on his computer. After spending 5 hours cleaning off the viruses and removing tool bars and fixing the zoom issue he finally saw what I was seeing. (No your web designer should not be your IT guy either, I just happened to be one for 14 years)


8. Designers are not SEO experts. (Unless it is us... insert shameless plug)

Being an SEO company, we have been hired to fix countless websites that either has just been built or have been on the Internet for a while. It is usually the same story; I had this built and I am not getting any clients from it. Our question: Who has been doing the SEO? Answer: My designer did it when they were creating the site. Designers can choose to make short cuts to make the site look and function the way that you want it to but in the end, it is very SEO unfriendly.

Usually, these sites have major duplicate content and lite content issues causing a panda penalty. As an SEO company, this makes our job a lot harder in that we have to reverse engineer what your designer has done and then redo your page the “long way” so you get the most benefit.

Read More: Do you want an SEO'd site or a Pretty One 

 

9. Communicating Corrections.

If at all possible do not use statements like “The 5 bullet points are not appearing responsive on my iPhone, held either vertically or horizontally.” While that communicates almost everything we've said previously, you have missed 1 very important item; Where - What page is it on? 

If there is a content fix please provide the link to the page that you are looking at. By not giving a link to the page you are expecting your designer to go through the entire website rather than just fix the issue on that one page. (It's okay because there is a lot of back and forth, but if we know the issue and where, it saves us all time)

 

10. Project stall and Launch.

launch your siteSometimes your project may stall, which has happened to me more than once. Most of the time I am asking questions that just don’t get answered. I know that we are all busy and I am not saying drop everything while your site is getting designed but I am saying spend the extra few minutes to answer the questions to keep the project on track. If the ball is in your court then we can’t move forward without it. 

Launching your site -  Most sites launch at around 80% to 90% completion. Why not at 100%? The major one is to complete the project and there are some items that will always have to be fixed after launch. That coupled with the rest of the items to fix will push your site to completion. This really is the time where you need to visit every page of your site and ask for the final adjustments. If you are waiting for the magical 100% see step 5 no really... go back up and read it. Your website at best will stay at 95% completion for eternity because there is always something to change, always something to adjust. That is why most design firms have an hourly rate because there is always something.

 

Hopefully, this will help you with your next web project. The big take away here is communication. Use everything at your disposal (screenshots, other web sites, other pages) to communicate what you want your site to look like. The better you can communicate with your web designer the more you are a joy to work with and there is nothing like waking up in the morning working for people that you want to work for, rather than people you have to.

 

Phew! This was a long one, but we love designing and want to save everyone time, money and energy. These 10 steps will make that so much easier!

BTW -  We loved working with our latest client and his amazing site! Check out Bruce Simon's New Website!! WOW! It's awesome! http://www.brucesimonsayssold.com

Posted by

 

ActiveRain and SEOTammy Emineth is an expert in custom content and original articles for blogs, website, press releases and more. Contact me anytime and feel free to subscribe to this blog to stay up to date on my latest blogs and informative information. Email me or contact me for Real Estate Website Marketing and SEO Content Writing.

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The information contained in this blog is believed to be true and correct and while every effort is made to assure that the information is as accurate as possible, the author of this blog, and its comments disclaim any implied warranty or representation about it's accuracy for any particular purpose. All information is copy written and the property of Tammy Emineth.  

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Re-Blogged 3 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Mike Cooper 08/08/2017 06:11 PM
  2. Gabe Sanders 08/18/2017 11:55 PM
  3. Roy Kelley 10/20/2017 01:00 AM
Topic:
Real Estate Technology & Tools
Groups:
Active Rain Newbies
Technology Side of Active Rain
Tags:
website design
websites
website designer

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Show All Comments
Rainmaker
2,156,572
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

meat on the bone post....

Aug 09, 2017 06:53 AM #21
Rainer
95,168
Mega Team Real Estate
Realty ONE Group Alliance - San Mateo, CA
San Francisco and Peninsula Real Estate Concierge

Wow! Great advice. Thanks for sharing this. 

Aug 09, 2017 07:45 AM #22
Rainmaker
1,507,976
Lottie Kendall
Today | Sotheby's International Realty - San Carlos, CA
Serving San Mateo County and San Francisco

Loads of information here -- thank you. And I love the sample web site you designed--just great!

Aug 09, 2017 08:03 AM #23
Rainmaker
246,515
Gregory Manns
HomeSmart Professionals - Palm Springs / La Quinta, CA - Indio, CA
Palm Springs Area Realtor HomeSmart Professionals

Thank you Tammy for generously sharing this valuable information!!

Aug 09, 2017 09:03 AM #24
Rainmaker
424,485
Jerry Murphy, CRS
Long Realty West Valley - Anthem, AZ
Anthem, Phoenix, and Scottsdale AZ Real Estate

Wow! I read this post and realize that I definitely need help.  I'll be contacting you guys in the future.  Best wishes.

Aug 09, 2017 09:30 AM #25
Rainer
355,391
Anna Hatridge
Goodson Realty - Bonne Terre, MO
Missouri Realtor with Goodson Realty

this is great information!  I bet Deb Goodson finds it helpful to share too.

Aug 09, 2017 11:28 AM #26
Rainmaker
538,082
Denise Hamlin, Broker/Owner
Cardinal Realty ~ 319-400-0268 - Iowa City, IA
Helping Happy Clients Make Smart Choices

Excellent post Tammy. I'm so with you on the communication thing. It would be so much easier if everyone knew what they wanted!

 

Aug 09, 2017 11:38 AM #27
Rainmaker
529,061
Karen Baker
Sunset Beach and Beyond Realty - Sunset Beach, NC
Professional Help with Rapid Responses...

We are so happy Tim and Tammy Emineth  are our web designers!! 

Kudos to a great post Personal SEO 

Aug 09, 2017 02:27 PM #28
Rainer
343,811
Betsy N. Robinson - Serving the Sandhills, NC
Everything Pines Partners, LLC. - Whispering Pines, NC
CNS

I am going to check out Bruce's website.  Thank you for sharing some informative insights.

Aug 09, 2017 03:36 PM #29
Rainmaker
3,132,670
Lou Ludwig
Ludwig & Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC

Tammy

Your post does a great job on designing or re-designing web sites.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Aug 09, 2017 09:30 PM #30
Rainmaker
3,132,670
Lou Ludwig
Ludwig & Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC

Tammy

Congratulations on recieving a feature for an outstanding post.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Aug 09, 2017 09:31 PM #31
Rainmaker
823,946
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Great post!  I'm sure this will help MANY of those interested in building a website. 

Aug 09, 2017 09:54 PM #32
Rainmaker
48,398
Luke Acree
ReminderMedia - King of Prussia, PA
Making Agents Memorable

The website is such a crucial part of the buyer's journey.

Aug 10, 2017 06:52 AM #33
Rainmaker
206,433
Rick Frissell
HomeXpress Realty - Lithia, FL
aka "The Red Baron of Real Estate"

Excellent post Tammy Emineth !  I went the course of "design yourself" to "template" and "web designer."  A web designer is well worth the time and investment.  About the best the other do is allow the Realtor to say "Yes, I have my own website."  By the way, one of my template sties was witha big box company.  At that time (years ago) all SEO went to the corporation and personal visablility was impossible.

Aug 10, 2017 07:03 AM #34
Rainer
2,585
Leif Nisaan
Nestify - Bellview, TX

Nice points Tammy! There is one more point that we should consider now a days is to design a website more from smartphone and tablets point of view and then think for the desktop website. After 5 years 90% of the users will be accessing the websites using cellphones so it is better to start now.

 

Leif!

Aug 10, 2017 09:11 AM #35
Rainmaker
46,208
Christine Kankowski North SD and Temecula
House Match Inc - Poway, CA
Excellent Sales and Property Management

good info on here.  Leif has a good point as well about the mobile devices. 

Aug 10, 2017 10:12 AM #36
Rainer
132,513
Barbara Murphy
Tartan Properties, Pensacola~Pace~Milton~Gulf Breeze~FL - Pace, FL
GRI, e-PRO, GREEN, FMS, MRP

Thanks for all the clear tips, Tammy!  LOVED the site you did for Bruce Simon (and the song was catchy, too! LOL!)

It's time for me to update my site - your post couldn't have come at a better time!

Talk to you soon! :-)

Aug 10, 2017 06:42 PM #37
Rainmaker
325,407
Donna & Larry Johnson
Keller Williams Real Estate - West Chester, PA
Chester & Delaware County

Another great post and reminder that I need help! We did talk once but I need to revisit everything with you.

Aug 13, 2017 09:05 AM #38
Rainmaker
4,120,055
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD
Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs

Congratulations on your feature recognition. Thanks for sharing this advice.

Aug 19, 2017 05:00 AM #39
Rainer
86,020
Shahar Hillel
Augusta Financial Inc. - Stevenson Ranch, CA
Mortgage Consultant, Loan Officer.

Tammy.

Thank you for the great tips.

Aug 20, 2017 12:51 AM #40
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