If you are looking to have a new website built but are not sure where to begin, you have come to the right place. Below is a list of questions that once answered will help you have a clear idea of what to discuss with your web developer. This will ensure that your next website is one that you love and is also produced on time and within budget.
1. Is this a brand new website, or are you refreshing your existing one?
- If it is a new website you might be stumped on what you are looking for. It will be helpful to write down a few general ideas of what you would like to gain from your website and list a few websites that you enjoy the look of.
- If it is an existing website you can start by looking at what is no longer working for you on the current site. Write down a short list of the reasons that you want a new website, such as the design, functionality, and performance.
2. What is the purpose of the site?
Every website should have a clear purpose. We often hear from clients when asked about their website’s purpose, “We want to establish a strong web presence.” That is great but what do you want your web presence to say about your company/brand/organization? A website without a clear purpose can be confusing to users and might drive them to another site that makes sense. Some examples of purposes that a site may try to convey are:
- Showcase/sell a product or service
- Promote a brand, cause, or event
- Build an engaged community
- Educate on a specific topic or issue
3. How will you be using images on your site?
Images are a great way to add interest to a site and convey your message. Images can be used in a variety of different ways and for a multitude of purposes, such as to:
- Display in a gallery or slider
- Enhance specific content
- Add visual interest throughout the site
4. Do you have a existing branding to use for design direction?
- If you already have specific branding, now is the time to think about how you want to incorporate this into the theme and design of your website. It is important to take into consideration that just because the colors of your logo look great in print, it does not necessarily mean that they will work on the web. Keep an open mind when it comes to using your branding for the web, a slight tweak might mean the difference between a cohesive design and your logo sticking out like a sore thumb. It is also necessary to think of how your existing logo will display on a mobile site.
- If you do not currently have branding or a logo, now is a perfect time to create a look for your business/organization to be used on the web and elsewhere. You may be interested in having a designer create branding for you. Knowing what colors you like and accurately represent your message is a great starting point.
- Websites can use stock photography or custom photography to convey a message, and both work great. You will need to decide which route to go for with the design of your site. For example a site that promotes a social movement might want to use photos from their most recent event instead of using stock photography, whereas a business centered around healthcare might be perfectly happy using medical stock photography.
5. Is your company or organization active on social media?
If yes, then you need to decide which platforms you want to incorporate into your site. After you have selected them, you will need to choose whether you want the site to feature a link or display a feed (such as link to Facebook, or display of your Facebook page plugin on your site).
6. Would you like to display testimonials or reviews from organization members, clients, customers, etc.?
If so, you will want to have someone on staff to closely monitor them. Even though comments can be set to be reviewed before posting, it is still important to have someone checking them regularly. A customer/client might give you a rave review but if it never gets posted, that is a lost opportunity to make a lasting connection. Don’t underestimate the benefit of a positive testimonial! Taking the good with the bad is also important. Sometimes a customer/client may leave negative feedback, this is a great opportunity for you to respond to the comment to address the issue and work on improving whatever the situation was so that it doesn’t happen again. Apologizing for an unpleasant experience and offering a solution shows that you have integrity and brings value to your business/cause.
7. Do you plan on having a newsletter or a blog?
Many sites use newsletters or blogs to get information out to their users and they can be a valuable tool. It is important to remember that if you are planning on having a newsletter or blog, content should be updated often to keep it fresh and interesting. Another thing to think about is how your blog content will be delivered to your readers. They could visit your site to read the blog or you could use an email marketing strategy to deliver a newsletter with the full blog content.
8. What types of content do you plan on having on your site? Will you need to display media such as videos or audio on your website?
You may choose to have your website display text and images to convey your message, or you might want to display media such as audio and video on your site. Knowing what content is important to you and your users is critical to having your website built to fit your needs.
9. Will your website contain user generated content?
User generated content is, you guessed it, content generated by site users. This content can vary in form, including uploaded videos, pictures, social posts (Instagram, Twitter, etc), and messages being shared on the site. If this is something that you plan on including on your site, it will be important for you to have a discussion with your web developer ahead of time, as it would include additional work including the set up of logins for site users to create content.
10. What feature is most important to you and your website?
Every website should be uniquely tailored to its users. Knowing what you want your user experience to be and the features that you would like on your site is essential to planning the website that you would like to have built. Once you know what feature is most important to you, make it clear to your developer that this feature is a necessity for your site build.
11. What kind of devices will your users be accessing your site with?
If you already have a website and use tracking, such as Google Analytics, you would know how the majority of users access your site and the devices that they are using. If not, it might be difficult to estimate exactly how your future users will be accessing your site. It should be taken into consideration that the majority of internet users are viewing content on mobile devices, which means that your content should be easily viewed regardless of the devices size.
In conclusion, answering these questions will give you a great starting point for your discussion with your web developer. Thinking through your site in depth will be appreciated, but it is important to keep an open mind when talking with them. Sometimes, you may have an idea that is amazing on paper but will not translate well on the web. Take advantage of your web developer’s expertise to help you make the best decisions about how to build your site. If you meet with your web developer with this list answered and an open mind, you will be well on your way to creating an incredible website together. Good luck!