You can learn a lot about somebody, their experience and expertise from the questions they ask you, especially if you are talking to a potential service provider. Working in the web design industry for quite some time, I have learned that the right questions not only help me acquire new clients, they also help me ensure that the project runs smoothly with no delays. I’ll list some of the most important questions we need to ask potential clients before designing their new website. Some questions here help our designers understand the nature of our client’s business, but some of them also cover the client’s personal preferences. These two are important because certain industries require specific website layout or design and they also help us remember that it is the client that we are designing the website for. So, designers need to put their own preferences aside and really listen to the requirements coming from the client. A successful website design project will fit in with the client’s business industry but it also needs to be aesthetically pleasing to the client, and include the desired features and elements.
What does your business do?
Understanding the client’s industry and business is the first thing a designer needs to do. Do you sell online or do you offer services? Do you take payments online? These are just some questions that will help us understand the direction a web design project will take.
Do you already have a website?
If the client already has a website, it can be used as a great starting point towards understanding the client’s expectations. Use it as an example to gather various information on what the client likes about the current website and what should be changed.
What is the purpose of your website
What should your website do for our business? Do you expect to get more leads through your new website? This can be a difficult question sometimes as the clients do not always know the purpose of the website. But it is something that you and your client need to find out together as it is crucial for delivering a successful web design project. If the purpose of the website is making more sales, you need to focus on making the call to action buttons stand out. If the client wants to educate the audience, it is the content you need to focus on.
Who is your target audience?
Understanding the target audience is crucial because it determines if the website will actually be useful or not. Who is the client’s target audience, what do they like, what do they do, how to speak to them? You need to understand their values and typical behaviour or preferences when surfing the internet. Based on that, you decide on the main elements in terms of the language used, message, colour, font, styles, etc.
What is your budget?
This is the first question you need to clarify with your client. If the client does not have the budget that can cover the necessary features, it will be difficult to even discuss the project. There are many benefits of having a bespoke designed website, however, if the client is on a tight budget you can agree to go for a template based website – this means that you’ll need to compromise on the quality though.
Will you be updating your website and content regularly?
If so, you’ll need a content management system (CMS) that enables a non-technical person to make content updates or change images. It is pretty simple and think about giving your client training on this – they’ll appreciate it very much!
Who are your competitors?
Knowing the competitors and identifying the successful ones can help you understand and learn about the industry. You can find the inspiration in some of them and learn more about the client’s likes and dislikes. This step will take you a step closer to the full picture of your new project.
What websites do you like?
Designers tend to get carried away by their idea of a beautiful design. But don’t forget, you are designing a website for the client and they need to be happy. Knowing what websites clients like or do not like can help you understand their expectation and since you are an artist, I am sure you can find a way to build a website that’s best for the client’s business in terms of layout, looks and functionality, and deliver what the client wants at the same time.
What features do you want your new website to have?
Is it an e-commerce website that you are building, does it need a shopping cart or payment plugins? Does it need to have a blog as well? Social media integration is also one of the features your client might want. To build trust among your client’s customers, the website might need a testimonials page or case studies. Some of these are determined by the industry and your client’s business, while some are optional and could be left out. What’s important is to clarify the list of features with the client before the project starts.
When are you planning to launch your website?
Finally – what is the deadline? If there is a deadline and if it is a tight one, explain the urgency to the client and do what you can to start the project asap. If there are no deadlines – tell your client how excited you are to start working on this interesting new project and push them gently into making a decision.
We have done a number of projects with clients coming from various industries. One of the most successful projects we have worked on was building a website for commercial construction specialists, J3 Building Solutions Limited. The client knew exactly what they wanted and the project was successfully delivered within the predicted timelines.