Get your website built quickly with planning and communication

5 Steps to Get Your Website Built Quickly

Get your website built quickly with planning and communication

How to get your website project off to a flying start and avoid delays

Do you want a top-notch website created quickly? If you’re planning to redesign, refresh or build a completely new website this year, then let me help you avoid some classic mistakes. I’m going to share five important ways to help your website designer create an effective and en-point website for your business, and do it quickly, to time and budget.

I’ve been designing and developing websites since the early 2000s and running my own digital agency for more than a decade. And I love it. But in all this time there is a scenario I come across frequently. Sometimes I experience it with my own clients – much as I try to avoid this – and often I see and hear about it with business associates in my network.

The website that takes ages to build

What goes wrong?

Let me describe a typical scenario.

Client: “We need to get our website refreshed. We need to add some new functionality, so that we can do X, Y and Z, in the next 3 months. It’s not a full rebrand though, so it won’t be a big job.”

Website designer / Agency: “Let’s have a discussion to gather more business requirements and then we’ll send a proposal.”

Now the website designer or agency can promise to do the work in the next three months, which obviously depends upon their professional assessment of the size of the project, their availability and capacity. But six or nine months later there is still no website up and running. On the outside nothing has changed, and within the project team there is frustration, disappointment, and in the worst case, a complete breakdown in relationship.

What has happened?

Usually I think two things:

  1. Over-Promise from the website agency
  2. Optimistic but under-prepared clients

In summary, the website agency has promised to deliver to a timeline that requires either more capacity than they have available, and/or requires the client to put in more work than they were aware of, or prepared for.

Look for Honest (Difficult) Answers from Your Digital Agency

When you appoint an agency, please ask difficult questions… particularly about how long things will take.

Be mindful it is also your agency’s job to correct you if you have wrongly assessed a website project as a ‘not a big job’. It could be that your project actually involves technical or remedial work that you were not aware of.

1.      Set practical, realistic and planned timelines

If you ask a website agency to deliver a new website in three months and they agree, then ask them for a plan of what they will be delivering on a weekly basis and what will be required of you.

If they say,

“Look it’s June now, in August a lot of our team are going on holiday, and so are yours, I think we would be better aiming for a four month timescale”;

or if they say

“We will have capacity to start your project in six weeks’ time, when we have closed a current project, so we’d be looking at 4-5 months launch”;

these are GOOD SIGNS!

The designer or agency is prepared to disappoint you initially in order to stay honest and meet a realistic deadline, so that they don’t disappoint you in the long run. They are prepared to put your relationship first and prioritise trust and honesty, before the temptation of giving a greedy ‘Yes’ to your timelines, when they know that it will be more than a push for you both.

2.      Understand your role as client means you have work to do

If your website designer or agency does not prepare you for work, then you’re heading for long, long project.

Look at the weekly delivery schedule and analyse the work that has been assigned to you.

For example, this might be time for

  • consultation and feedback,
  • copywriting,
  • organising team photography or
  • briefing an animator for video creation.

Can you meet the tasks that are being asked of you? This is very important. A web design project depends upon the Client as much as the Designer. The bulk of this work is usually up-front because a designer cannot invent a layout for non-existent copy or content. I am fairly often asked to create a mockup design for planned content that hasn’t been finished yet, and yes, we can do that, but it inevitably means that the design will need more revisions in the long run, which will add delays to your schedule and cost you more.

Note, it’s a great idea to involve your designer in requirements for additional service providers, like copywriters, photographers or videographers. This will help ensure the content they produce will be optimised for your website.

What a Good Designer Will Ask You to Do Up-Front

Depending on the scope of your project, a web designer needs information from you (or your marketing communications agency) so that they can research and develop good ideas.

3.      Share information about your brand and target audience

You should be able to brief your agency about your brand and your ideal customer. Ideally, you’d be able to describe their persona(s) and what they tend to ask you. A good designer will understand that your website needs to answer customer questions at various stages of their buyer journey. This will inform what webpages you’ll need, the priority and order of the content and to make your customer’s experience easy and enjoyable.

If you have engaged your digital agency to also ensure your website is Search Engine Optimised, this is a crucial step. Understanding the questions your Target Audience asks will guide keyword research and help select the best keywords to use on your website. (More on this in a later blog…)

Share your analytics, if you have them…

A web designer should ask to see your Website Analytics (if you have a current website). This will tell them which pages are engaging people now, which search terms work well for you, where people drop off the website etc. It will help to protect and boost high performing pages and ditch what isn’t working.

4.      Share reference websites

A good way to help your website designer get off to a flying start is to do some research about your competitors’ websites. You and your designer need to know what websites you think work well in your industry, and conversely which ones irritate the life out of you. Share your favourite and most-hated competitor websites. This will show your designer what’s important to you, as well as your tastes. Together you can look at the reasons why the good ones get it right, and your designer should be able to provide evidence-led research about what works well or not in your industry. Again, look for honesty, because a good partner won’t always agree with you and will say,

“I know that you like this feature, but actually research shows that it gets very little engagement, so I wouldn’t recommend it.”

5.      Write your copy!

This is honestly the hardest part for a client. It is so hard that they delay, avoid, procrastinate, ask the designer to move on without it, etc.

Sometimes I think it’s because people are sometimes too close to their own business to be able to articulate clearly what their unique proposition is.

Other times it’s because they need to engage multiple people in their business to get answers to their questions, which can be a slow process. There are a few solutions here:

  1. Get a template to complete. Quite often with my clients, I will research best-practice and what needs to be on a page, prepare a copy template for them and ask them to complete it. This helps a lot.
  2. Do it interview style. If your colleagues are difficult to pin down, try asking them your customers’ FAQs in an interview-style, and capture answers given verbally, then write them into good website copy. I sometimes do this for clients, but more often they can do this within their own teams.
  3. Get help with messaging development! You need to know your value proposition before you can write about it; you need to know to whom you are speaking and what will resonate with them. Again, you may need to engage a third party to help tease out what your messaging should be.
  4. Ensure your sign-off process isn’t endless. I sometimes see the CEO / MD of a business slow down a whole website build because they are fiddling about with the copy. They change their mind, won’t sign things off, don’t give authority to sign off to another team member, (even though they are the busiest person in the business and really don’t have time to work on the copy). If you think this will be your problem, get it agreed early how much time the CEO / MD will need to give to the copy and keep to that schedule.

Book your photographer and videographer early

It isn’t just copy though that can slow down a website build. Quite often the client hasn’t considered imagery and video (which is increasingly important for website engagement). A good designer will help point out early if you’re going to need new photographs, or if they recommend commissioning new video for your business. In most cases the client will organise this and it needs to be done early on in the project, so that you can book into the diaries of all the people needed.

Planning and communication are the secrets to success

In summary, it is much quicker and easier to design and build a new website when you, as the client, know what content you need for your website very early on in the project. This is the result of teamwork in the planning and clear, honest and upfront communication between both partners to identify and assign all the dependencies in the project.

Remember, a good digital agency or website designer will give you work to do and is reliant on you to deliver in order to keep to agreed timelines. If you are prepared for this and set aside time and resource accordingly, then there will be no hindrance to website design and development, it will be much more fun for you, and get your website live as quickly as possible!

Get Gospel choir Search Engine Optimisation

Search Engine Optimisation and site design for Music Group

Get Gospel generates most of its enquiries from search engine results. We have successfully helped them return in the top Google results for key search terms consistently and helped integrate social media activity onto the website to keep content fresh.

Our main reason for hiring Cheryl to design our website was because of her knowledge of digital strategy and search engine optimisation.

Not only does she understand our brand as a fun, friendly, contemporary and cool gospel choir - and successfully designed a colourful and clear website to convey this - but her work on key search terms throughout the site has improved our gospel choir's rankings massively. She has insight into what works for the customer, and how to give the customer the best experience possible.

Understanding the importance of social media, she advised us on how to integrate Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter on each page so that we could get the most interaction across the board. We're thoroughly pleased with how the site looks, how easy it is for the customer to use, and how easy it is for us to update. Cheryl is more than a website designer; she helps businesses to grow and change with the times, and ours definitely is.

Get Gospel
Eleanor Barlow Professional Website Design

Eleanor Barlow

Professional website design for a cyberpsychologist & business adviser

Eleanor Barlow is a cyberpsychologist and strategic adviser to businesses, her target client being business leaders and senior executives. It was important that her brand and website reflected her unique area of knowledge and approach, heavyweight experience and business acumen.

Eleanor Barlow website

"I hired Cheryl to help me develop a clean, clear and powerful online presence for my business. I needed something which would articulate the weight of my brand whilst also conveying my personality and experience.

Although elements of my positioning were still in flux when we initially engaged, I had a fairly clear idea of how I wanted my site to look and feel. Cheryl was able to translate my scamps into site design effectively, with confidence and expertise. When you engage Cheryl you are entering into real partnership; despite late changes to content and structure, Cheryl has remained patient, understanding and flexible throughout the entire process demonstrating a fantastic sensitivity to my situation and awareness of my business. I definitely feel as though 'we're in this together' and I love my new site!"

Eleanor Barlow
Vesta Rowing Club home

Vesta Rowing Club

Revamped rowing club website and membership management

Vesta is a well-established rowing club in London, with a membership of several hundred. We have refreshed the website to make it more useful and up-to-date for members and more attractive for visitors (almost halving the bounce rate). And as part of an ongoing project, we moved membership subscriptions to an online direct debit collection service and member applications online too, saving time, reducing errors and increasing revenues.

Testimonial on request

Aga Siemiginowska
Putney, London

Jules Rendell

Soul Singer and Songwriter website

An artist like Jules Rendell needs a website to be modern, classy and cool. Together we focused on creating a visually bold and engaging website, with plenty of photos, video and tracks. Importantly the site also links a lot of Jules' social media and commercial activity. It also has room for news, reviews and upcoming events too!

A note on Jules’ site is a Parallex Scrolling site, which means that the background images move behind the foreground images at a slower speed. This can have a very striking effect, but it means that screenshots of the site don't do it justice. I encourage you to click on the image below to view more!

I love my new scroller website. Cheryl has a natural eye for colour, size and balance so that the website is stylish with all the features I wanted but not cluttered. She listened to my requirements and ideas and augmented them to cover areas I hadn't thought of, including the revolving video reel, news page and mailing list sign up. Also willing to learn new aspects of the WordPress theme to make the website I wanted, Cheryl showed her technical ability to solve problems quickly and teach me how to update the website myself. One of her strengths is incorporating social media and SEO rankings, making the most of Google and other search engines to get as much traffic to my site as possible.

I'm thoroughly pleased with the job she has done for me and think it portrays me as an artist in the exact way I'd envisioned. She's also great fun to be around - I totally recommend her!

Jules Rendell

Peter Scott Tree Care

Specialist Root Barrier Website

Peter Scott Tree Care needed to redesign their website, as it had become outdated. The key priorities were to make it more attractive, user-friendly and drive more sales contacts. This was achieved in summer 2014 with ongoing SEO improvements and additions to content as required.

(Please note the foliage background image is a scrolling image, so the background does not turn grey when visiting the website, this is just a downside to using screen grabs!)

Cheryl understood straight away what we wanted and advised us on what we needed; things that we had not thought about. She delivered a fresh, modern website that is easy to navigate and contains all the information and downloads that our customers may need. Cheryl also keeps an eye on things and makes sure that everything is up to date and optimised.

Dia Garrido
Morden, South London

The Mad House of Cats and Babies

Making a blog work for you

Karen needed to bring order to her burgeoning blog, to make it more accessible and grow its influence in a wider audience, and learn more about the opportunities available in marketing her work

I already had a very basic website, running as a blog, when I approached Cheryl, for help with revamping it. I had some very vague ideas in mind, but as someone who really has no experience with website design, it was so nice to work with her. She was tremendously helpful, taking my ideas and vision for my site, and using her expertise and experience to make it look and work better, and also look how I wanted it to. She was able to take my very simple “I want this to happen” and make it a reality.

She is very easy to work with and accommodating, very good at saying when something will or won’t work, and also coming up with better solutions. She helped me to understand more about branding and marketing my product (my blog) and getting it out there and seen. She has also been very helpful with aftercare, and has been there to help me when I have needed to edit or change small things, but was worried about my own technical abilities. She explains things clearly, and every step was talked over before she carried it through to completion on the website design. She produced realistic action plans, and set reasonable expectations of deadlines and it was always clear what would be happening, and when, in terms of work being done.

The whole process of setting up or revamping a blog or website can be very daunting, if you have never done it before, so it was a pleasure to work with Cheryl, who made it all seem so easy, and smooth. I continue to be impressed with her technical wizardry, and her ability to translate “I want this thing to look like this and do this” into something that actually works on a site. I am looking forward to working with her again, in the future and would recommend her services. It was well worth the investment to get her to help me take my blog and site where I wanted it.

Karen Reekie
Richmond, London

Imago Styling

A simple, stylish brand and website for personal stylist

Kristina is a personal stylist and image consultant who needed to build an online brand and presence. As a stylist, she had a vision of a clean, classic, monochrome site, which splashes of vibrant colour.

"I thoroughly enjoyed working with Cheryl! I was new to the world of websites and widgets when we began working together, and she was very patient, explained everything thoroughly, even helped me to set up my business email account, and held my hand throughout the whole process. At all times we were moving at my pace, she was always at the end of the phone and available to answer my questions, even after the website was finished, whilst I was learning to manage it myself. Couldn’t find a more helpful web designer, thoroughly recommend working with her."

Kristina Ambrus