What You Need Before Hiring a Website Designer

Web Design

So you’re ready to take a big step in your business and invest in a custom website design.

Congratulations! You’ve taken a courageous step in helping you show up confidently online and connect with your people. 

But before you start working with a designer, there are some of the essentials you need to tackle in advance. 

Purchase a Domain

Before you hire a professional to design a custom website for your business, first purchase your domain! 

A domain is your website address (eg vanillaoakdesignstudio.com). 

Domains vary in cost from $12 and up which you renew on a year to year basis.  

You should also purchase “domain privacy” at the same time (there will be options for this when you check-out). This way people can’t find all your private information such as your home address and phone number online. 

I always recommend to my clients purchasing a domain through Google Domains, as I have had issues with other domain registrars in the past (looking at you, GoDaddy).

*Note, some website platforms have the option of also purchasing a domain name at the same time, depending on which platform you use, this may be the route to go. 

But if you ever plan on switching web platforms you would need to transfer your domain away elsewhere to host.

Choose Your Website Platform + Hosting

You need to know which platform you want your website to be built on before you hire a web designer. 

If you’re not familiar with the different platforms or are not sure which is best for your business, reach out to your favourite designer (like me!).

We can happily recommend the best platform option for you and your business, as they’re not all built the same. 

Some website platforms include hosting, while others require you to purchase it separately. Hosting is what makes your website “live” on the world wide web so that people can access it 

I design all websites on the Showit platform, and hosting is included with the monthly subscription cost.

Get a Professional Photoshoot

I’ll be brutally honest here…

There is no point in having a custom website design if you aren’t willing to invest in professional photography.

The photography on your website is just as important than the actual web design itself. 

That’s why I require all my custom web design clients to have a professional shoot done before the web design begins. 

And professional does not mean your cousin who happens to own an expensive DSLR camera that they whip out once a year. You need to hire a branding photographer.

Website design and brand photography truly go hand-in-hand, and one without the other will cause your website to fall flat. 

Imagine landing on a beautifully designed website, but all the pictures are iPhone selfies.

Would you feel like this person is a professional? Would you feel comfortable investing in their product or service?

Something would feel “off”. 

And when you flip it, you land on a website with some of the most gorgeous photos you’ve ever seen, but the site looks like it’s from the 1990’s *yikes*. Would you give them your credit card information?

Probably not. 

Branding is all about consistency and this bleeds into your website, photos, and messaging.

A photoshoot can also help bring your brand messaging to life, tell your story, and make sure you come off as the professional you are. 

The best time to plan your shoot is after your branding is done, and before your website design starts. 

Write Your Website Copy 

So you’ve got your beautiful new website, killer photoshoot, and now you need to make sales. 

And the very best way to do that is to work with a copywriter to help your audience connect with your message, and ultimately buy what you’re offering. 

A copywriter will help you get uber clear on your messaging, and figure out how to tailor it to your ideal audience so they know you are speaking directly to them (now that you know who those people are, after working through the brand strategy). 

Sales and conversion copy is a craft not everyone can excel in (myself included), but if you’re not quite ready to invest in a copywriter, I do provide all my clients with a copywriting work book to guide you through strategic prompts to write your own website copy, so we can get words on the page and design it around your messaging.  


To make the most out of a custom website design, I recommend investing in both services below. 

I’ve marked them as optional because you know your business best, but if they’re something you’re going to invest in down the line, you should 100% do it before investing in your website design, as you will probably need to end up going back to your web designer if you want to add them to your website later. 

Kill two bird with one stone and do it before you work with a designer: 

Email Marketing Service

Have you ever landed on someone’s website and signed up for one of their awesome freebies? Well if you have, more than likely you would have been added to their email list and sent some sort of sales funnel. 

Before hiring a designer, create your freebie and sign up for an email marketing platform so that your designer can implement the sign up form into your website, and make sure it flows with the rest of the design.

I use Flodesk and not only is it intuitive and easy to use, the emails are absolutely beautiful. Flodesk also has the option to create landing pages for sign up forms and pop-ups if desired. 


Finally, and maybe one of the biggest investments would be a CRM. A CRM (or Customer Relationship Manager) is the most valuable tool if you want to streamline your business. 

A good CRM will allow you to track leads, invoice, send contracts, communicate, and keep track of all your projects in one place. 

I use Dubsado and it has helped me stay organized in my business, automate repetitive tasks, and show my professionalism. 

Do you have any questions about any of the points above? I love talking about all things websites, so don’t hesitate to reach out! hello@vanillaoakdesignstudio.com


*Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission.