Being Prepared with These Answers Will Streamline the Process
Developing a website requires a great deal of legwork before any designing or building actually starts to occur, both by the designer and by the client.
The designer needs to first ascertain three things:
1. What the client needs
2. What the client wants, and
3. What technology and
implementation that will be necessary to make the website functional and aesthetically pleasing.
Often these three things do not build a complete venn-diagram, so any potential inconsistencies in these areas will need to be addressed before any work begins in order to head them off before they turn into possible issues down the line.
For example, say you are building a website that sells toys for young children, but your favorite colors are black and grey and you want your website to be black and grey because of this...well, to make a long explanation extremely short: you have to cater to your audience. And in this case, you audience isn't actually children, but their parents...who are buying for their children. Common 'color wisdom' tells us to either go one of two routes: bright, primary colors or soft, subtle pastels (depending on demographic information, more on this later). For this audience, these schemes are tried-and-true, and will bring more visual success than the client's preferred color scheme. Sometimes there's what you want, and there's what works. It's certainly lovely when the two things intersect, but they will not always. Because of this, you must be willing to put your trust in your designer's experience and training in their various specialties.
So, below is the questionnaire I send to new clients in order to gauge what theirs needs are, what their vision is, and what will be necessary to facilitate all three in a fast, affordable, and friendly manner. Feel free to use this list in your own information-gathering as a designer.
Or, if you are looking to really wow any potential designers you are considering hiring, have this list already answered and send it to them along with your proposal...I promise they will love you for it!
And be certain to adjust is where/when necessary (as not all of these questions will always apply to all situations).
1. Who are you?
1a. What is your company/business name? What (if any) products or services do you offer?
1b. What is your unique selling proposition?
(ie: what makes you different from your competitors/peers?)
2. What is your objective/goal for this website?
Some possible examples: to generate income, communicate with clients, present information, as an artistic portfolio, to gather data, provide entertainment, etc
2.a If your goal is to generate income, what will the main vehicle for this be? (ie: selling physical products or downloadable content online, having people sign up for paid workshops, selling lessons, etc)
3. Do you already own a URL (web address) for your site, or will one need to be acquired (assuming it is available for purchase)?
If you do not have one, what would you like it to be? If you do already have one, from whom was it purchased, and do you have access to the admin console?
4. Have you already purchased a hosting (data storage) plan for this site, or will this need to be acquired?
If you do already have a hosting plan, from whom was it purchased, and do you have access to the admin console?
5. Who is your target audience/demographic?
This question is longer than it appears ;)
6. Are there websites by similar people/companies in your field that you like?
If so, what appeals to you most about them?
7. Are there websites from similar people/companies in your field that you dislike?
If so, what do you dislike most about them?
8. When you visit other websites that cater to your field/demographic, what functionality do you wish these websites offered that they currently do not offer?
9. Do you have a logo or an already-existing branding suite? If you don't, do you already have a designer on board for this, or is this a service you would like me to provide for you?
If you do have a logo and branding materials, do you have access to the source files that can be shared with me?
10. What type of content do you want your website to present?
Do you own this content (i.e.: has it already been created just for you/your business)? Or will the content need to be purchased, or created from scratch (this includes, but is not limited to: photographs, articles/copy-writing, graphics, videos, audio files)?
11. Will the website need to be responsive (mobile phone/tablet friendly)?
50%-60% of all web browsing is now done on devices, so I always strongly urge people to say 'yes' to this question to prevent future scalability issues as this number increases.
12. Will the website need to be served in languages other than English?
If so, which languages? Do you have a translator for this, or will one need to be acquired for you? Additionally, will this website be primarily used in in the USA, or in other countries? (Digital laws vary from place to place)
13. How often will the website need to be updated?
Ie: on a fixed schedule, such as once every 3 months, or in a more fluid/live manner as relevant things occur?
13a. Who will be updating it? You, me, both of us, or a third party?
14. Do you have social media profiles that you would like integrated into the website?
If so, how? ("follow me on Facebook", or "share this article on Twitter" etc)
15. About how many pages would you like your website to be?
What kind of pages are absolutely essential (about, contact, etc), and which pages would be nice but aren't necessary (make an appointment online, live chat, etc).
What type of pages would you like to avoid?
16. Is SEO important?
Would you like for your page to come up in a Google search when users enter in a certain phrase, or will this website only be given out to individuals on an as-needed/semi-private basis?
17. Will you need outside users (i.e.: customers/clients) to be able to login?
Are there areas of the website that will need to be password protected? If so, please explain.
18. Will you need to be able to process credit card payments on this website?
If so, do you already have a payment processor set up? If you do have a PP set up, who is it with? Do you have the login information for this? If you do not have one, would you need one to be acquired for you?
19. How do you plan on promoting/marketing your website?
Assuming that you do plan on doing so...again, some websites are semi-private and are not advertised.
20. Do you already have a curated email list of people who have consented to receive marketing materials from you?
Or, if not, will you be using the website to build that list? Is this a function that is relevant to your goals, or can it be omitted entirely?
21. Will you need this website to contain a blog? If so, who will create the content?
Will you allow users to share or comment on the blog posts?
22. What it the budget and deadline for this project?
And there you have it!
Yes, it IS a lot to chew on. But you'll be doing both you and your designer a favor by filling it out, or at the very least, giving it some thought and jotting down a few notes...things often tend to flesh themselves out with better clarity after just a few initial brainstorming sessions.
Jinnifer Douglass is a full-time freelance web designer, photographer, writer, graphic designer, and consultant. She lives in NYC where she enjoys making the internet, taking pictures of birds, and Hearthstone. She can be reached via email, Linkedin, Facebook, and Instagram for project proposals and interesting conversation.