There are three major timing considerations in the design of a website:

When the designer will need your input: There are 4 major areas that tend to require the most work on the part of the business owner: The site map, the text for the site, photographs such as product shots or head shots, and feedback on the designs.

  • Site map: Website design pricing is often partly based on the number of pages to be included in the site. So, having a page count is often required to quote a new site design project.

Having a full site map completed before requesting a quote can help ensure that all of the technical and functionality requirements are considered in your quote as well – which is important for accuracy of the quote. But, it can be difficult for entrepreneurs who are building their own website to create the site map on their own. Many designers offer site planning consultations that can help you with this important step.

No matter how it is created, the designer will need your site map before work can begin on the site. Determining the site map is important because the site map determines the navigation items for the site. The navigation is one of the major design and functionality elements on a website, so this information needs to be locked down at the beginning of the process to ensure that the design process goes smoothly.

  • Text: It’s helpful to have the full text for one page of the site at the beginning of the design process. I recommend that this text be for the home page if possible, because the home page will typically have more text customization such as headlines, sub-heads, and call-out boxes. Also, the design of the home page is very important since it will be the primary landing page for your website.
  • This first page of text doesn’t have to be proofread or perfect at the beginning of the design process. The first phase of the Design of the website will be done as sketches, in a design application such as Photoshop or Illustrator. The text will have to be coded separately into the final website, so you’ll have an opportunity to make changes.

    The rest of the site text will be needed when the sketching phase of the design is completed, and coding begins.

  • Photographs: When photos are needed will depend on the intended use of the photos. For primary photos, such as photos of your products that you’d like to include as a main feature photo in the page design or on the home page, it’s helpful to have those as early as possible in the process. The style, colors, orientation (vertical or horizontal), and content of those photos plays a major role in the overall design of the site, and providing them to the designer early in the process will enable the designer to create a design that integrates well with the photos.
  • Secondary photos, such as head shots of your staff, or photos of products to use in the shopping cart, are typically required during the coding phase of the site. The very nature of these photos require that a more generic approach to using them be created because you want to be able to add more staff biographies and more items to your cart over time. So, they are not typically integrated into the design, but rather dropped in after the design is created.

    If you’re planning to use stock photos, the designer will typically budget some time for searching for and specifying photos into your project fee. Ask them how much time is included under your contract.

  • Feedback: I can’t count the number of sites that I’ve worked on that have missed their target launch date because of delays in feedback. My timelines, for example, assume that the business owner will get back to me within 24 hours of designs being submitted. Some entrepreneurs have taken over two weeks to get back to me with initial thoughts on the first round of the designs, and then they’ve been shocked to find that I won’t be able to make the target launch date of three weeks from the beginning of the project!
  • Since web design is a many-stepped process, and many of those steps allow the business owner multiple opportunities for review, fast feedback is critical to keeping your project on-schedule. Delays in feedback will contribute to delays in the overall timeline.

    And, remember, that keeping your project on my desk does you no good!