Often getting started in a project is the most challenging step.  Asking important, yet basic, questions is the best way to start a design relationship.  Below are some of the basic questions your website designer should be asking before getting started on any design work.

1. What does your business actually do, and what makes you great?

Your designer should seek to get a really thorough understanding as to who you are, what you do, how long they’ve been around, etc will often help support the design research and decisions you make throughout the entire client relationship.

True, this is pretty straightforward if your client runs a pet shop who sell fluffy bunnies, but if they are a company who sell ‘telecommunication and logistical support equipment for offshore facilities’ (blurgh!!), then you need to make sure you get your head completely around your client’s business.

2. What do you want your site to accomplish?

Your designer should understand the primary and secondary purpose of your site.  Some examples might be: are you looking to sell products, gather a following, build a contact list, drive traffic to a brick and mortar?

A website should have clearly communicated goals and expectations.

3. Do you have a website already?

If you have an existing website, it can be a great start to a conversation.  Your design should understand some basics about the site, what is and is not working, and why you are looking to redesign.  By understanding the current site, your designer can build a new site that outperforms the old.

Some questions to consider:

  • How old is the site?
  • Do you like the design – are you changing any branding?
  • Do you find it easy to use and edit? Why or why not?
  • What do or don’t you like about it?
  • What would you like to see carry over to the new site?

4. Who are your competitors?

New designs should research competition to understand what competitors are and are not doing.  This is essential to building a site that is better then the competition.

5. What features do you want your website to have?

When your designer asks these questions, they are seeking to understand how big the project is to provide an accurate quote and realistic timelines.

For example, some common questions may include:

Shopping cart?
Email list building?
A blog or news feed? Who will write the content?
Photo galleries?
Onsite videos?
A slider banner?
A quick contact form?

6. Do you have a style guide or branding?

Current branding may drive quite a bit of the website design.  Be prepared to provide examples of logos, brochures, letterhead, etc for your designer to get a good idea of the branding layouts.  If there are any changes to styling/branding make sure to mention them up front.

Having a clear understanding of the brand and look/feel will speed up the process and create a better brand-compliant design.