You’ve done the hard yards, sifted through a dozen different website providers, got some quotes and settled on your final choice. Great! But don’t stop there. To make sure you get the best value from your provider and a website you’re happy with, there’s more you have to do.

Based on years of experience, here are our top tips to help you enjoy a productive working relationship with your website developer.

1 – Know your business

Before you engage someone to build your website, make sure you have a clear idea of what your business is about. The new website will be a key part of your business and it’s important it aligns with the direction your business is taking. It doesn’t have to be overly detailed, or even the final version, but there are some basic things you should know.

  • What are you selling? A brief summary of your product or service.
  • Who are you selling to? Not only the type of person who would buy your product but a little about them – age, location and the things that are important to them. And remember; the website is ultimately for them, not you!
  • What is your overall strategy? And how will the website fit into that?

Passing this information on to your website designer will mean they can give you better advice about what features you should invest in (e.g. if your customers were on instagram, then embedding your channel into the website would be a good idea).

Keep in mind too that, while your website provider may have some good ideas about setting up a business or developing a marketing strategy, it isn’t their job and you can’t expect them to do that for you.

If you need help putting together a business plan check this out.

2 – Review your expectations

To avoid disappointment it’s a good idea to manage your expectations about what you are buying. Maybe you like the look of your lawyer’s website or a big retail chain’s online store, and you want the same. That’s great but it’s important to remember many businesses spend thousands on a website, or have enlisted expensive design agencies to develop (and continue developing) their website. So, sure if you have an unlimited budget then the world’s your oyster, but if you need to keep a tight reign on the purse strings then make sure you temper your expectations accordingly.

Of course, it’s still possible to get a great website for a lot less than what other providers might be charging.

If you’re unsure if a budget business website is right for you, make sure you discuss this first, to check if what you’re hoping for can reasonably be achieved within your budget, and if not what the extra costs might be.

3 – Don’t assume they’ll ‘just know’

Website developers are pretty smart but it doesn’t quite extend to mind reading. That said, they are happy to answer any questions you might have – all you have to do is ask.

Browse their FAQs or terms of service to get familiar with their business process, and if you have specific requirements (such as a deadline to launch your website) then make sure you let them know as soon as possible so they can plan accordingly.

A website provider doesn’t know how much or how little you know about the process, and doesn’t want to overwhelm you with a lot of extra information if it’s of no interest to you. All it takes is a quick email to clear up any questions you have, and help avoid a communication breakdown.

4 – Communicate clearly, and often

Are you sitting around wondering where your website is at? You never know – your website developer might be waiting on something from you, and is just giving you time to get it organised.

Anyone who has been through the house building process knows this all too well. If your builder isn’t hearing from you frequently they can sometimes assume your job isn’t urgent and they’ll rearrange their priorities to accommodate the ‘squeaky wheel’. It’s not ideal but most of us have figured out that it’s just how the world works. Use it to your advantage and communicate regularly with your website developer to get updates on progress.

While on the subject of communication, phone can be a great medium for a friendly chat and to build a rapport but it’s better to have it in writing when it comes to project details and progress reports – so use email where possible.

When emailing, bullet your key points. Instead of sending a lot of separate emails, try to group things in an organised way, or link to a google or word doc with your points broken up by page so it’s clear what you need done, or changed.

5 – Get your photos organised

Providing your own photos is great – they add a sense of authenticity to your website that can’t be achieved with stock images – but it’s important to get them organised before you send them through to your website provider. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Resize – In most cases, photos direct from your camera or phone will be too large for the website. Resizing to a width of about 1000px (try to keep them under 200kb per photo to improve download speeds for your website) is about right, and your website provider can do additional resizing as required.
  • Rename – Give each photo a descriptive name that relates to what the photo is about, or where it should be on the website (e.g. suzy-smith-about.jpg). Some sort of naming convention can help when referring to them if anything needs changing.
  • Send as a file attachment – Don’t embed them (copy and paste, or share direct from your phone’s gallery); instead attach them to your email or even better upload them to a service such as Dropbox then share the link.

Granted, you may not be able to do this yourself so just ask if your provider can assist. It may involve extra costs or, alternatively, they may be able to refer you to an online photo editing tool that can help you make the changes for free.

Communication is key

As you’ve probably guessed there’s a bit of theme going on here. Like a lot of things, clear communication is your friend. Don’t be afraid to ask – even if it seems like it’s a stupid question or should be obvious – your website provider would much rather answer an easy question than have an unhappy or disappointed client.

To improve the flow of communication – particularly for more complicated websites – talk to your provider about setting up a shared Google doc or spreadsheet that you can use as a live tracker for your website project.

Want to communicate with us? We’re right here and ready to respond asap to your email (during working hours).

Up next: The five biggest mistakes new website owners make

How to get the most from your website designer