Long before you decide exactly what you want your website to look like, you need to consider two important factors: what you hope to convey to your visitors and what your potential visitors are likely to be searching for when looking for your website.
Considering these important variables will allow you to create a website that will grow your business while answering a question or solving a problem for your website visitors. Once you have considered the specific goals of your website, you can then create a website that achieves these objectives and meets the demands of your potential site visitors in the best manner possible.
Consider the Following Regarding Your Business:
What is the purpose of your site and what are the goals? Is it to draw local customers to a brick and mortar business? Is it to sell services online or promote products? Is it a personal site to share your interests or establish yourself as an expert in a niche? Is it a portfolio to sell creative services? Perhaps your goal is to teach something. Remember that a website should always be developed for your visitors and not yourself. Ensure that you meet your goals, but do so in a way that meets your visitors expectations if you want your business and its website to be a success.
For example, lets say you are an interior decorator. Your site goals will likely encompass a few of the objectives above. You'll want to highlight yourself and your experience visually in a portfolio, while also attracting customers from your local area. People may be looking for information on how to do some of their own decorating and you could help them by providing quality content on the subject. This establishes your credibility, offers your visitors something of value and will likely lead to conversions and paying customers.
Other times, your goal may not be growing your business on the web, but simply having a place where current customers can view your specials, store hours, and contact information. This would be a static website that is more of an online brochure that explains your business and how to contact you.
Consider Your Potential Visitors:
What is your target audience? What are they searching for? What types of problems might they have that you can solve? How can you best present your skills and become a credible and trusted source of information? Are people who are searching for you looking for an immediate answer?
For example, if you run a restaurant, chances are good that people who are seeking a night out are doing searches that are more immediate in nature. For that reason, you would want a website that features things very prominently on your homepage. Things like your specials, reviews, directions and your choice menu items.
The highlight of a restaurant design would be answering an immediate need, whereas someone with a garden shop may want to focus more on general advice for gardens in their area, and having a more content rich and helpful website to better meet the needs of their visitors. Chances are, those who seek out gardening sites are going to be looking for more in-depth information and may not be there looking to make an immediate purchase. Having quality information easily accessible in addition to products would be the best idea for this kind of website to establish credibility and value.
Once you have considered all of the questions above and answered them in depth, then you will be well-prepared to talk with a designer and come up with a website that will best meet your needs.