Questions To Ask When Developing A Website
Web marketing has taught me a great deal about designing websites. I think many web designers start with the goal of making the site pretty, or making sure it functions as requested. But what they often don’t consider is what happens next. They did their job, the rest is someone else’s problem.
Marketing Comes First
A design just based upon the look, feel and brand of the site is shortsighted. All design should start with marketing. It’s marketing that determines what looks good visually. It’s marketing that determines the layout of the site. It’s marketing that constructs effective navigation layouts. It’s marketing that ensures the design adheres to best usability practices or considers the audience’s needs and requirements. It’s marketing that then takes that site and turns it into a revenue generator for the business
Sorry, developers. Marketing comes first and foremost; the rest is built from that!
In light of that, we have created a list of questions (over 100!) that we use to determine the scope of any new web development project. By thinking through these answers early, scope creep is kept to a minimum and ensures that the client’s final product is exactly what they want.
What is the purpose of the website?
What are your corporate core values and how do you express them to your visitors?
Do you have any page wireframes ready or will those need to be produced as part of the scope of work?
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)?
Describe the style of the website you want.
Do you have specific company colors that need to be used?
Can you provide the Pantone numbers for your company colors?
Do you have any other materials that the site needs to match with in some way (brochures, press materials, etc.)?
What do you like most about your current website?
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?
Are there any websites with designs 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 like?
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.
What types of actions do you want your visitors to take on your website?
Do you have any other specifications or need specific functionality that has not been addressed?
What is your time frame for total project completion?
How many web forms does your new site need? What is the purpose of each?
What features, sections or information do you want emphasized on the site? How would you like that to be featured?
Will different sections of your site require different designs, layouts or coloring?
Does your site need a blog or a forum?
Do you have a tagline you wish to use or do you need help creating one for your site?
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 there be any cross promotion of content within the site?
Please provide details on content cross promotion.
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 need a content management system?
Can you provide us the proper files or is creation of this content part of the scope of work?
Do you want contact phone numbers prominently displayed?
What information must be on the home page?
What information must always be visible?
Do you need to be able to manage content publishing approval processes?
Website Images & Video
Do you have any other media or PDF documents that need to be incorporated, or will any need to be created?
Do you have a logo you plan to use or will one need to be created?
If you have one, can you provide the original artwork files?
Will you need a favicon created?
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?
How many videos or audio files will be added and/or created? Will those be provided or do they need to be created?
Do you have any flash elements you want included?
Will there be any third-party applications that will need to be integrated? What are they?
Do you require online chat features?
Will you need a shopping cart system for e-commerce?
Do you need multi-language support?
Will your visitors require any special needs (i.e., screen reader ready, larger fonts)?
Do you require your site to be mobile friendly (responsive design)?
Do you have any specific mobile requirements?
Do you have a Google Analytics account?
Will any customizations need to be made such as optimizing for search, adding content overlays, customized wrappers, etc?
Do you need any password protected areas? What kind of content will be put behind password protected areas?
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 require printer friendly options?
Do you wish to employ any “content-on-demand” features (i.e., hidden elements that are made visible with certain actions)?
Do you already have a URL you plan to use?
If not, do you need help selecting and registering a good URL?
Do you have a budget you are trying to meet?
Where is your website hosted?
Do you have full access?
Can you provide usernames and passwords?
Who will be involved on your end in the development of the website?
Any other contractors?
Who or how will you be managing website upkeep?
Does your current web host meet all your new website’s needs (space, bandwidth, databases, etc.)?
Do you plan on or need to move to a new host provider?
Do you need help finding the right web host?
Will users need to log in to your site for any reason? If so, why?
Do you require a database? What specific functionality will it need?
Do you have a preference for which CMS to use? (i.e., WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Concrete 5, Magento, etc.) If not, do you need help selecting the best CMS for your needs?
Will you need multiple levels of access?
Do you need an internal site search feature?
How do you want the submitted info handled? (email, database, etc.)
Describe your target audience.
What makes you different from your competitors?
Why should people do business with you rather than your competitors?
What makes you different from your competitors?
What do your current competitors’ websites have that you wish to have?
Will these need to be optimized for search?
Will you be looking for keyword optimization beyond the design/development scope?
Will you be offering advertising on the site? How should that be implemented?
Do you need any social sharing features built in (tweet, like, +1, share, etc.)?
Avoid The Cost Of Scope Creep And Post-Development Fixes
The worst development jobs are those that end up with runaway scope creep. That happens when the client doesn’t really know what they want and they keep adding to the project as it moves forward.
The cost of this creep is often saddled on the developer because the scope was never clearly defined in the first place. When your developer poses these questions up front, it helps the client carefully think through all of the things they need in advance, eliminating scope creep almost entirely. And, because marketing is baked right into the development process, there’s no need to hire a whole new agency to “fix” all the marketing-related blunders perpetrated by the original designer.
1. Do you have your existing site for redesign or you need new website?
This will save your time, because perhaps you don’t offer redesign, as Albasoft don’t. We transfer any website to our Albasoft CMS and treat as new project, even when is redesign.
2. Can you please describe your business?
Take a note of all information, because this will be very important for planning Home page and Site map. You need to know closely, what your client does, before you begin work on their site. Descriptions of products/services client sell etc.
3. Who are your competitors?
Clients usually know who their main competitors are. It is essential to know who their competitors are, and what they are offering. Monitor their activities to help client to respond to rival marketing campaigns with own initiatives. You can use this knowledge to create marketing strategies that take advantage and improve client business performance.
4. Do you have special features in mind?
Does client need e-Commerce shopping cart, Blog, RSS, Forms with emails, Newsletter signup, auto responders, advertising positions, Forum etc.
5. What is your approximate budget for this project?
This is a question you should not repeat twice. Sometimes, there are “clients that want champagne with beer price”. Sometimes, there are people who have no idea about website project budget. If you want to be serious you should make offers in written to any client. After this, it is up to client to decide. Propose technical high quality solutions and cost effective offers and you will succeed. Use a calculator to calculate price and make offers. We suggest you to use Albasoft Calculator for Web Design Services. Based on our experience, clients need about one month to decide about company for designing their website. Very often they came back to us, after one month, for final agreement, only after they compare Albasoft offer with competitors, because quality and price is very important for client.
6. Do you have a webmaster on your staff or a contact person that will approve our proposal?
Not all companies have a paid staff position to focus on the Website. Companies that want full benefits of internet really need to have a staff position carved out for this purpose.
7. What is your deadline for finishing the site?
Usually clients will expect to have their finished web site next week. However, this is good moment to explain that everything depends of how many pages a web site will have, and how much support client will give in approving a final design on time.
8. How are you going to promote the new site?
There are many ways for website marketing through social media as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Business Blog; Also, SEO activity; In addition traditional strategy as: Cards, Brochures, Traditional Media; Paid Advertising Strategies etc. It could be an opportunity for you to get more work from client.
9. Are there websites that are attractive to you or would like to try to be like in some way?
Most of people today are very familiar with internet and has their favorite web sites. Based on this you will find out a lot about style and colors clients likes.
10. Is the content ready for your web site?
It is good to know if you should offer additional services as Copywriter or to aware a client that they should deliver content on time to finish a project. Some clients expect that you will do content production process for free. Now is time to explain.
11. Who are the decision makers on this project?
Explain that you will send offer in written with all technical details and ask who will make the decisions and who should be on Cc. Make clear that the price is negotiable and can be reduced ore changed based on requirements.
Make a detailed offer that will help to have a clear contract. If the contract is unclear, you may be asked by client to provide more services than you expected and client will suppose you don’t want fully to accomplish a contract.
Always be honest with your clients, and, take care to prevent vague situations.