Pre­Project Check list: Questions Your Website Developers Should Ask You

Pre-Project Check list for web projects

You want to be sure you are getting the right developers to build your website. A good way of knowing if your website developers know their jobs is the kind of questions they ask you. If the following questions are on their list, then you have a good indication you will get what you need.

What do you expect from your online marketing effort? This will indicate whether you merely want to get an email address, are looking to trigger an initial enquiry, or simply want a site which will enhance your standing in the market. Being clear about this will make it easier to create a site with the right impact.

|Why is your company different?

Who are you and how will your business help customers?
Also known as an “elevator pitch”, this brief statement identifies your company, what your company does, and how you can make a difference. The idea is this: If you were in an lift with a potential client and you had only a limited time to make the right impression, what would you say to describe your business succinctly.

What is your mission statement?
While this is not usually of crucial importance to visitors, it does establish a reference point for the designers and could be useful when deciding on the story you want your website to tell.

|What is the purpose of your website?

What do you expect from your website?
Must it get email addresses or initial contacts, is it an affiliate marketing site, dust it sell products, or is it simply an online brochure for your company? Whichever of these is true,you need to make an impact right from the start and a clear focus will make it easier to produce a knockout design.

Is getting fully­ qualified leads difficult?
Qualified leads have a high conversion rate and are more cost­effective. It may be that you need to change your keyword focus or marketing approach to improve the situation.

What are your biggest challenges when closing qualified leads?
What are the common sticking points or clients?

Which of your corporate goals, either long or short­ term, are likely to affect the design?
You want your site to be aligned with your marketing efforts.

|Who buys your goods or services?

How would you best describe your visitors?
Are there specific sectors, industry segments, company sizes, or geographical areas which are being targeted. This can have a profound effect on a design, although it must be remembered that B2B is still person-­to-­person.

What factors influence the way your market responds?
The characteristics of your target market will influence how you present an appropriate message.

What are the most common needs and problems of your clients, and how can you help?
These needs and problems are your best marketing opportunities.

Are the characteristics of your market consistent, or are there widely different client profiles to be considered?
It is more difficult to cater for a divergent market, and it may be necessary to employ Behavioural Targeting to optimise your site for different segments of your market.

|Your competitors as benchmarks

What makes those companies stand out from the pack, and where do they fall short?
By knowing what they see as their strengths and identifying any weaknesses, you will know which of your own strengths to emphasise.

Are there any elements of the online activities of these companies you would like to model?
It would be a mistake to automatically do everything differently: What works for one company will often also work for others. There are many successful “me, too” companies around.

What gives your company an edge over your competitors?
You want to emphasize these points strongly in any interaction with your visitors. This will also help to qualify your leads.

|Your current website

What do you like most about your existing website?
You want to be sure to include a feature you know to be working well or which is particularly associated with your web presence in your new design.

What do you really hate?
You need to think about why you hate it and whether it might actually be doing a good job before you discard it. Remember, you may think your site is ugly, but your visitors may be perfectly happy with it.

Which aspects of the present site are slated for inclusion in a future design?
This makes a good starting point for a new design.

How much business is it bringing you?
You want to be careful not to lose your existing SEO ranking or any current business.

Do you have data such as an email list or customer details which needs to be migrated?
Existing customers will hate it if you ask them to re­enter their details, and you will probably lose many of them.

What do you expect your new website to do for your business?
What functionality is required, you want to make sure that your site will handle your business needs suchnt to generate leads as downloads or accepting payments.

What visual elements are important?
You must be sure this are included in the design.

Do you have any colour preferences?
Colour is an important element in any design.

Do you have any logos, SEO keywords, or slogans to be included?
These need to be included up front to be sure they complement the final design.

|Time and money

What development phases do you envisage?
It may require a phased development to get essential changes in place quickly. An initial simplified phase to test certain proposed innovations can also help to clarify the reaction of your visitors before you commit too much money. You will then also have a better idea of the likely cost and impact of subsequent phases.

What is your budget?
How much can you afford to spend, preferably detailed by phase. A phased implementation plan allows you to commit limited funds for the each phase, while firming up your estimates in the light of experience as you progress.

How much have you allowed for annual maintenance and support?
Once your site is up and running, that is by no means the end of the story. It is likely you will need to tweak it, especially in the beginning. Your business needs or customer focus may also change, requiring the site to be adapted. Testing possible adaptations on an ongoing basis is essential to keep your site at its best.

How much time have you allowed for testing?
It is best to test the effect of proposed changes before committing to a new design, if at all possible. Without testing you are simply guessing.

|Support and Maintenance

What are your requirements regarding ongoing support of the site?
Do you anticipate that you may need to adapt your site in order to preserve or enhance its impact? The consultants responsible for the initial development will be most familiar with the programming and best situated to provide the most cost­effective support.

|Measuring Your Site’s Performance

Google Analytics provides some useful tools to measure the effectiveness of your site and even test changes. These and other tools allow you to test proposed minor changes and tweak your website. Changing the colour of a button may sometimes result in a substantial increase in conversions, so there is a lot that can be done without a total revamp.

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