What to Expect When You're Expecting a Website (Part 2)

a computer on a desk with flowers

A Series of Firsts

In the first part, we talked about how thorough preparation and thoughtful consideration are the key to beginning the conversation about your website. We listened to Lincoln’s sage advice: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I’ll spend the first four sharpening the axe.” We suggested that you have your MVP, your target audience, and your KPIs ready. You’ve thought it through, sharpened your axe, and are now ready to meet with someone and flesh out this idea.

We’ll give you some insight to what Pleth does behind the scenes to translate your idea into a website, including how to be clear about what you want and expect from us, and what we want and expect from a good client.

The First Meeting and the First Meeting Meeting

The first meeting we have with a client is exciting for Pleth. We get to meet the people we’ll work with face to face, hear what their problems are, and begin thinking about how we can solve them. In the best cases, they have already thought about what they want (the three pieces we mentioned before), and can elaborate on those pieces with us. By the end of the first meeting, we want to have a rough idea of the type of product we’ll be creating — a website, advertisements, video, and so on.

Typically after this meeting, we stay in the conference room a little longer to informally talk about everything we covered in the meeting, proper. We talk about what our project will look like, what we’re excited about, what we’re worried about, and what types of technologies can we employ. We consider a lot of possibilities. And those possibilities eventually turn into a brief and an estimate. Once the proposal is accepted — it begins.

The First Step

Content. Our number one priority is to collect the content of your website from you. We have the resources to create copy for you, but it always seems to be more personal if it comes from the client, directly; and sometimes copywriters can’t help much if it’s too specific or technical (or bordering on industry secrets). It may seem as if it’s putting the cart before the horse in some ways, but making this the first step helps us later when we start considering the layout of the content. A website that is image heavy can look drastically different than a website that is text heavy, or has video, or embedded audio.

The content should be treated as the most important part of your website — because it is. The content is the reason that people come and stay. It’s important to get this step right. As the information in collected, we consider the tone and imagery associated with the text. We think about how a member of your target audience will interpret the information you present.

The First Link and the Second and the Third

Another very import piece of the overall puzzle is information architecture, or IA. A website’s IA is the logical organization of information into groups and navigation sections that make sense. A good architecture will allow users to navigate through your website with ease. Since websites don’t necessarily come with instruction manuals, they need to be designed in such a way that the navigation is easy enough to use without explanation.

During the design phase, we will also have to keep in mind how navigation will work on mobile devices. The screen real estate on mobile devices is much more precious, so we try to make sure that the navigation is as organized and succinct as possible, even if that means combining pages or deleting content. The types of experiences that users expect to have on their phone is different from the experiences expected from desktop computers — in terms of time, content, focus, and more.

First Things You Think Of

The final piece of the puzzle that we collect from you is your aesthetic and inspirations. This information helps the designers navigate the plethora of options that we have when we’re designing your new home on the web. This comes on the form of lists: website you like, websites you don’t like, products you enjoy, favorite colors, and so on. We want our final product to reflect you and your personal style.

Once we have all this information, we begin the design process. Keep watch for the next post about how designers take all this data and start working.