Questions to Ask Before Building a Website
An ounce of preparation is worth a pound of cure. Be prepared to take full advantage of your website design project by answering these questions up front.
THOUGHTLAB’S VITAL QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE BUILDING A WEBSITE
Every time we kick off a new web design project we get excited. We can’t help it! It’s a thrill to walk into work, crack open our MacBooks and have something fresh to work on. But with all our excitement comes the inevitable underestimated amount of work ahead for our client. Sure we’re taking on the bulk of the work, but client input is critical for a successful project. Your website is the digital version of your company, and translating your company's vision into HTML will take some serious effort.
An Ounce of Preparation….
Over our eighteen years in business as a web design agency we’ve learned that the old adage “an ounce of preparation is worth a pound of cure” to be as true as they come. To help you be as prepared as possible for your upcoming website design or redesign project we have created a list of questions designed to help you finalize your thoughts before jumping into the deep end. If you take the time to answer these questions up front you’ll help stem the flow of minor questions coming from your agency, and maximize the efficiency of their time.. More bang, for your buck!
This post will cover questions from the following subjects:
- Basic Details & Identity
- Scope and Specs
- Functionality Requirements
- Marketing Requirements
- Considerations for a Redesign
- SMART Goals
BASIC DETAILS & IDENTITY
You know your business inside and out, but a description straight for the horses mouth will help keep everyone inline with your vision.
- In two sentences describe what your company does?
- What is your business’s unique value proposition?
- Describe your target audience.
- Why do you want a new website?
- What is the purpose of the website?
- What are your corporate core values and how do you express them to your visitors?
- When would you like to begin work on the website, and when would you like to launch the new site?
- Who are your top three competitors?
- What makes you different from your competitors?
- Why should people do business with you rather than your competitors?
- Describe the style of the website you want.
- Do you have specific company colors that need to be used?
- Does your company have a logo?
- Can you provide the original artwork files to your logo?
- Do you have any other materials that the site needs to match with in some way (brochures, press materials, etc.)?
- If you have a current website, what do you like most about it?
- Is there any functionality or options on your current website that you plan to keep (other than the content)?
- What are your top 3 frustrations with your current website?
- What do your current competitors’ websites have that you wish to have?
- Are there any websites, in any industry, with a design that you like?
- What about those websites would you like to be incorporated into your website?
- What types of things do you see on other websites that you really hate?
- Name the 3 things that are most important in the design of your new website.
- Name the 3 things that are least important in the design of your new website.
- Who will be involved on your end in the creation of the website?
- Who will be managing website upkeep?
- Do you have a budget you are trying to stay within?
- What is your yearly budget for improvements and site maintenance?
SCOPE & SPECS
Like building a house, building a website requires multiple different skill sets, and people. This section will help iron out the exact scope of work, and who will be tasked with what.
- Where is your website hosted? Can you provide usernames and passwords to your host?
- Do you already have a URL you plan to use?
- Will you need a favicon created?
- Do you have a tagline you wish to use or do you need help creating one for your site?
- Do you have a completed site architecture for the new website or will this be part of the scope of work?
- How many pages will the finished website be (estimated)?
- Do you have any page wireframes ready or will those need to be produced as part of the scope of work?
- Do you have the content for the website or will content creation be a part of the scope of work?
- How many pages of content will need to be developed?
- Will we be importing and formatting your content, or do you plan to do this?
- Do you or your team need training for making website updates, content publishing guidelines, etc.?
- Do you have any specific photos you plan to use?
- Do you have full rights to those files?
- Can you provide hi-res files to us?
- Will we need to find and/or create any images for the website?
- Will video or audio be a part of the new website?
- Can you provide us the proper files or is creation of this content part of the scope of work?
- How many videos or audio files will be added and/or created?
- Will any customizations need to be made such as optimizing for search, adding content overlays, customized wrappers, etc?
Websites can handle a dizzying amount of functionality. Lets find out exactly what your's will do.
- Do you require online chat features?
- Do you have any other media or PDF documents that need to be incorporated, or will any need to be created?
- Will this website need to be optimized for Search Engine Optimization?
- Will your visitors require any special needs (i.e., screen reader ready, larger fonts)?
- Do you have any specific mobile requirements?
- Do you need multi-language support?
- Will you need a shopping cart system for e-commerce?
- Do you have any systems you already use?
- Do you have a preference for which Content Management System is used? (i.e., WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Shopify, Magento, etc.)
- Will you need multiple levels of access?
- Do you need to be able to manage content publishing approval processes?
- Does your site need a blog or a forum?
- Will users need to log in to your site for any reason? If so, why?
- Do you need any password-protected areas?
- If so, what kind of content will be put behind password-protected areas?
- How many web forms does your new site need? (i.e. contact forms etc.)
- How do you want the submitted info handled? (email, database, etc.)
- Do you need any social sharing features built in (tweet, like, +1, share, etc.)?
- Will there be any third-party applications that will need to be integrated? If so, what are they?
- Will you need an events calendar feature?
- Do you have any subscription services?
- Do you use a third party for any part of subscription content delivery and/or payment?
- Do you wish to employ any “content-on-demand” features (i.e., hidden elements that are made visible with certain actions)?
- What information must be on the home page?
- What information must always be visible?
- What features, sections or information do you want emphasized on the site?
- Will different sections of your site require different designs, layouts or coloring?
- Do you need an internal site search feature?
- Do you want contact phone numbers prominently displayed?
- Do you require a database?
- If yes, what specific functionality will the database need?
- Will you be offering advertising on the site?
- If yes, how should the advertising be implemented?
- Do you have any other specifications or need specific functionality that has not been addressed?
"If you build it they will come" doesn't apply to the internet. Take a realistic approach to marketing your site, and plan ahead for it!
- What type of reports and data based on website usage would you like to be able to review on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis?
- Will you be looking for keyword optimization beyond the design/development?
- Do you have a Google Analytics account?
- What are your plans for marketing the site after it is launched?
- Will you use any marketing automation software?
- Do you use email marketing, landing page, or other tools on your site?
- Do you use a CRM to store sales and customer information?
- What metrics will you use to measure success? (Traffic, leads, conversions, sales, etc)
- Of the above metrics, which is the most important?
- Where do you plan on getting the majority of your traffic?
CONSIDERATIONS FOR A REDESIGN
Take advantage of any information you can gleem from your existing website. Whats working, and whats not? The answers are in the data.
- What metrics do you use to measure success on your current website? (Traffic, leads, conversions, sales, etc.)
- Which pages on your site rank the highest in the search engines?
- What are your most trafficked pages?
- What percentage of visits are from organic sources, referrals, social media, email marketing, and other sources?
- What are your top performing landing pages?
- What are your top performing blog posts?
- What are your top performing keywords?
- How many visitors does your site get each month?
- How many page views does your site get each month?
- How many leads do you generate each month?
- What is the bounce rate of your site?
- What is the average amount of sales generated by your site each month?
- What is the page load time of your site?
- Have you performed A/B tests of your landing pages and calls-to-action to increase click through rates?
Setting realistic and specific goals will keep everyone accountable, motivated, and focused on the projects long term goals.
- Do you have SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) goals for your website that will help you know what the site is a profitable and successful marketing investment?
- How quickly do you want to achieve these goals?
- What types of actions do you want your visitors to take on your website?
- What is your time frame for total project completion?
- What would a successful project look like?