Today I have a guest post from my sister, Erin Moss, who has been working at a web development company. We were talking about setting up websites, how long it takes to do it, how prepared one must be before talking to a designer/developer and here is what she had to say. Though it may seem like simple advice, I am regularly surprised at how unprepared most people are when it comes to defining what they want in a site.

During my years of working for a small business custom web site development company, the number one question I hear is “How long will it take to build my web site?”  The answer to that question depends on how prepared you are before you contact the web development company.

Need a custom built web site fast?  Be prepared and do your homework.  If you walk into a meeting with a web designer and the only thought in your head is “I need a web site,” then the process of building the site might be a little lengthy and laborious.  As a general rule, the actual process of building the site and making it live on the great world wide web doesn’t take very long.  Once the initial “look” of the site has been developed, it can be up and running in the matter of  hours.  The majority of the time spent in developing the site is spent on creating the initial design concept and adding the content.  In order for this process to move along in a timely fashion, it’s your job, as the client, to help the designer create the look and develop the content for the site.  Yep, that’s right…I said it’s YOUR job to help the designer.

I know… I know…what on earth do YOU know about building a website?  I mean, if you had the time and the know how to create the look and content for a site, wouldn’t you save yourself the money and just build the darn thing yourself?  What are you paying them for, if you have to work at this too?  It’s best to keep in mind the designer that you are hiring is merely armed with the graphical and technical knowledge of how to bring your ideas to fruition.  He can’t see inside your head to know what you think the site should say and look like or what functions and capabilities you will need the site to possess. You’re going to have to help him out a bit. Even with limited knowledge about web sites, most people have some sort of an initial mental image of what they think they want from their site and how it should look.  If you desire a custom built web site and you need it completed within a certain amount of time, say…before your movie drops, do a little homework before walking into a meeting with the web designer.

Not sure where to start?  Try visiting other film sites and note what you do and do not like about them.  Think about what capabilities the site will need.  Will you be selling anything from the site?  If so, you’ll need e-commerce capabilities.  Are you planning on posting still photos from the project?   You will probably want to place those in a photo gallery.  Before you walk into the first meeting with the web designer, make sure you have your ideas written down and let them know up front what you will expect from your site.  The more information you are able to give the designer during the first meeting, the faster your web site can be developed and start working for you. Remember that this is your site and it will be a major marketing tool for the project that you so painstakingly worked to produce.

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