Which comes first—web developer or web copywriter?

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This is the chicken-and-egg dilemma faced by many startups. With limited resources at hand, where should you invest your few marketing dollars? If you don’t have the in-house capacity to produce your own website, whom should you call first—a web developer who can design and build the site, or a web copywriter who can flesh out the copy?

The answer is neither. Before you start to create your startup website, your first step should be to find a conceptual thinker who can help you envision your site plan: a Website Visionary. While that may be a designer, developer, or writer, it may also be a member of your company team. 

Why do you need a Website Visionary, and how do you choose this person? Below you’ll find a few simple principles to guide you as you begin to create your online presence.

What is a Website Visionary?

A Website Visionary doesn’t usually label themselves as such. They may market themselves as a digital marketing strategist, a branding expert, a web designer or developer, or a writer. 

You can recognize a Website Visionary by the conceptual abilities they bring to the task of imagining your completed site. Just as an architect holds the entire floor plan of a building in their mind, a Website Visionary can picture the structure of your site, from top to bottom, Home to Contact Us.

A Website Visionary (WV) starts with the big picture before diving into details. In fact, if you’re a detail-oriented person, you may find it a bit frustrating to work with a WV. If they’re true to form, they’ll push back when people start asking early on about matters such as headlines, key words, and visuals. Instead, they‘ll ask probing questions about your brand promise, your target audience, and your goals for the site. 

What should you look for in a Website Visionary?

A genuine WV should ask questions you and your team haven’t thought of before. They should exemplify the motto “question everything.” They’ll challenge you to think (or rethink) assumptions about who you are, what you have to offer, who your ideal website visitors are, and what you can reasonably expect your website to achieve. a set framework they work within, but there’s a method to their intense questioning

A WV should also show genuine appreciation for your brand and your offerings. They should be able to view the world through two different lenses at the same time. The first set of lenses is your vision for your brand, and the second set is your audience’s perspective on your brand and your messaging.

How do you find a Website Visionary?

Start by looking in your own house. As many of us have discovered through the long weeks of lockdown, it’s amazing how creative you can be when you’re forced to work with resources you have on hand.

Who on your team is a big-picture thinker? Who thinks in clear structures and patterns? Who shows deep understanding of your target audience and empathizes with the challenges they face? A colleague who possesses all those abilities may be just the person to spearhead your website visioning.

If you’re looking outside the house, check the credentials and portfolio of web designers and web copywriters. Pay attention to the way they describe their collaborative process. Does it involve extensive inquiry? Is it focused on the unique results you want to achieve through your website (and not just on conversions or traffic metrics)?

One clue is an emphasis on “design” rather than just development. Someone with chops in design thinking, or experience using methodologies similar to design thinking, could be the perfect colleague to guide your visioning journey. 

What should a Website Visionary deliver?

Your WV should give you a blueprint from which you can build the site infrastructure, the page layouts, textual content, visuals, and media elements. 

The blueprint should create intentional pathways through the site, leading specific segments of your audience to engage with you on terms they find enticing. It should include:

  • Clear, concise statement of your value proposition in language that resonates with your target audience.
  • Detailed customer personas emphasizing your audience’s psychological state as they engage with the website.
  • Step-by-step persuasion journey to take personas from their current psychological state to a frame of mind in which they’re open to learning more about your product or service.
  • Site map, with descriptions of content to be developed for each page and the recommended approach.
  • Brand guidelines (for visual and vocal identity)
  • Call to action for each page.
  • Key words and phrases to repeat throughout the site (not SEO keywords but rather key words that resonate with the target audience and unify the content across different pages).

How can you leverage the Website Visionary throughout your website project?

Most websites develop in phases, with design, development, or writing taking priority at different stages. To keep everyone working toward the same vision, you may want to enlist your Website Visionary as project manager. 

As PM, the Visionary can coordinate the efforts of different team members, keep track of the project schedule, and take responsibility for Quality Assurance. You’ll get the most value from your WV if you engage them throughout the project, even if they play a light role during some phases of the work. 

Taking the time to find and work with this creative guide ensures you’ll reap a solid investment on the funds you put into building your site. Too many website projects suck up so much time and money that the businesses building them wonder whether the effort is even worth it. Collaborating with a WV is the best way to avoid the development swamp and make sure your website project delivers to its potential. 

Need an extra brain to help develop the website vision for your startup? Book a free consult at https://calendly.com/dawnhenwood/15min


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