A couple of months ago we published a blog “Ready to Start Building Your First Web App,” which contained a worksheet for those looking for a web team to build a web application for the first time. The questions in the worksheet are effectively those that we ask any potential clients in order to wrap our heads around a project and ensure we have the most robust vision of the idea prior to quoting up a budget or commencing wireframing/design work.
Although marketing and informational websites are often less complex in terms of functionality, user flows etc, the necessity to look before you jump is still crucial. Our latest worksheet, “Let’s Build a Website,” is a first step toward compiling your thoughts and getting ready to begin a website build/update.
The worksheet is split into five sections: The Basics, Specifics, Brand, Design Landscape and Final Details. Once these sections are answered, you will be ready for any questions a web team might throw at you during a preliminary meeting:
What is the primary purpose of the website?
Often a website serves multiple purposes, but understanding it’s primary function is key to ensure it is given the attention it deserves throughout the build. Is it to sell products/services, help hire new talent or show stakeholders what the company has been up to, etc?
Who is the intended audience (age, gender, profession), and why are they coming to the website?
Understanding and prioritizing each potential user and what they are looking to take away from the website will play a big role in the overall structure and hierarchy of the website. It will also help prioritization if the budget becomes tight (more on that later).
What are the main content sections of the intended site (in order of priority)?
Outside of the primary purpose, understanding all the content you will like include - and its priority - is hugely important. If the budget is a limiting factor, this becomes particularly crucial to grasp, e.g. what sections need custom design and which sections can use a generic template.
If this is a redesign, what do you like or dislike about your current site, and why?
Outlining what you like and dislike about your existing website (if one exists) will help ensure the good stuff gets carried over in the first draft of wireframes/designs, and the elements you didn’t like are never seen again! It also helps the site designer get a sense of your preferences and dislikes.
Do you have an existing brand (logo, colors, fonts), or additional marketing materials that should influence the look of the site?
The biggest difference between a redesign and a new website is access to established branding elements, like a logo. Although these may be outdated and need to be evolved, at least we have a jumping off point.
Some web studios offer branding/logo design and others don’t, which is worth bearing in mind if you need to develop brand elements first.
Who are your three biggest competitors? How are you different?
Understanding your product’s points of differentiation ensure they don’t get lost in the shuffle. Also, studying your competitors strengths often sparks ideas and ensures your personal bar of success is set at it’s highest level.
What are some existing websites that appeal to you, both inside and outside of your industry, and what specific design features do you like?
This really helps the site designer get a sense of your design preferences. Pinterest and Dribble can be useful tools for this exercise.
Are there any specific technical requirements that your web team should be aware of?
Perhaps the marketing department is already trained for a specific content management system, or the website needs to be written in a specific language so it works well with an existing server or web assets. Additionally, it is important to identify if the site will need to integrate with a third-party software, i.e. salesforce, hubspot or a payment processor.
Is there a specific deadline? What budget have you allocated to this project?
Deadlines and budgets are critical to nail down early. From a development perspective there is very little a website can’t do, and for design you can have as many custom template designs as the heart desires. The only real limiting factor is time, which is dictated by how many hours the budget will allow (this is assuming the web agency is charging hourly, which is industry standard).
There you have it folks, a few thoughts to focus on to make sure you are fully prepared to get your website build started in the most efficient manner. Best of luck with it and if you have any questions we are a mere click away!