Website Design & Development

Like all marketing—that is, customer-ing—websites should be a customer-centric part of your marketing mix.
Websites are not stagnant pieces of art on museum walls—they are an ever evolving dynamic combination of art and science.

Questions to ask when designing a website

Many business owners and designers start the web design process by talking about the design—colors, typography, imagery, etc. Although this is an important component of web design, it is not a true customer-centric starting point!

You might not want or need to answer every question below, but you will want to use these thought provoking questions to start forming the customer-centric basis for why you are designing a website.

Your website—like all the ingredients in your marketing mix (a website is in the promotion category)—is for your customer. Who is your Customer?
  1. Why do you exist—how do you communicate your core values?
  2. Who is your audience, your connected-community?
  3. Why does your product/service interest your audience?
  4. Why does your audience care about you, your brand, your product/service?
  5. Why does your audience have an affinity for your brand (compared to the alternatives)?
  6. Why does your audience want you to have a website?
  7. What is the purpose of the website?
  8. How will your audience find your website?
  9. What do you want your audience to do while visiting your website?
  10. What do you want your audience to do after visiting your website?
Your website is your brand's primary piece of digital real-estate. What does your brand look and feel like?
  1. Do you have a brand style guide?
  2. How would you communicate the style of your brand?
  3. What are three adjectives that come to mind to describe your brand's personality?
  4. What do you want your audience to think and feel about your brand?
  5. What is unique about your brand?
  6. How do you currently communicate your brand promise?
  7. What tag lines have you used?
  8. What do you want people to say about your brand?
  9. How do you differentiate your brand from competing alternatives (direct and indirect competitors)?
  10. What are your brand primary and secondary colors (HEX, RGB, CMYK, Pantone, etc.)?
  11. Do you have existing marketing assets (logo, brand mark, icons, images, displays, brochures, business cards, email templates, social media profiles, etc.)?
  12. Do you have the original and complete artwork files (AI, INDD, PSD, ZIP packages, etc.) for any assets like your logo?
  13. Do you love the look and feel of your brand today? If so, what do you love the most about it?
  14. If your brand was an animal/object/globally-recognized-brand, what would it be?
  15. Is there an analogy you can share to shape your brand identity?
  16. Are there any design elements your brand should stay away from?
  17. What do you not like about your current brand?
  18. What are you open to change—and, not open to change—about your brand?
Customer Jobs are the things your customers need, want, or desire to get done in their work and in their lives. How do your products and services satisfy your customers' jobs? Does your website contribute to satisfying their jobs?
  1. What are your customer jobs?
  2. What, precisely, are you selling?
  3. How many products/services are in your offering?
  4. How do you communicate your pricing strategy?
  5. What are your marketing channels?
  6. What are your distribution channels?
  7. What is it about your product/service that your audience finds value in?
Improving functionality and design can be informed by your historical customer experience. There might also be internal/operational goals and processes to consider. What have you learned from your current website?
  1. Without consideration for the design, content, copy, etc.—does your current website have functionality your customers value/utilize (e.g. forms, chat, forums, application guides, blog, resource downloads, etc.)?
  2. From your customers' perspective, what is the most important part of your website?
  3. From your internal (operational) perspective, what is the most important part of your website?
  4. What are your customers chief complaints about your current website?
  5. What are your chief complaints about your current website?
  6. What do you like about your competitors websites?
  7. Do your competitors’ websites have something your website does not?
  8. What are some websites—in or out of your industry and sector—that you like?
  9. What aspect of those websites' design and functionality do you like—and, dislike?
  10. Is there something from those websites you would like on your website?
What a website looks like—the front end—is just like the siding, paint colors, and garden of your home. Where you host your website is like the foundation. The back-end of your website (the Content Management System and architecture) is like the framing, electrical, and plumbing. How is your website setup and who is responsible for what?
  1. How/where did you register your domain (e.g. GoDaddy, Google)?
  2. Do you need help choosing and registering a domain?
  3. How/where is your website hosted (e.g. BlueHost, WP Engine, Startlogic)?
  4. Does your current host meet all your needs (space, bandwidth, databases, etc.)?
  5. Does your current host have the ability to scale as your website needs increase?
  6. Do you plan on or need to move to a new host provider?
  7. Have you evaluated a Managed Hosting Provider?
  8. Do you need help choosing the right hosting solution?
  9. Do you use any other services for CDN, DNS, SSL, etc. (e.g. Cloudflare, Akamai)?
  10. What Content Management System (CMS) do you use (e.g. WordPress, HubSpot CMS, Joomla, Wix, SquareSpace, etc.)?
  11. Do you have the login information for all of the above?
  12. Who will be involved in the website design project (employees, contractors)?
  13. Who is responsible for managing the website design project?
  14. Who is responsible for managing the ongoing website work?
Websites across industries and markets are wildly diverse! Understanding the scope of work—specifications in the project—is important for you and the design team to avoid misquoting and expensive add-ons. How can you help define the scope of work for your new website?
  1. What information do you think is a priority for the home page?
  2. What do you think needs to be emphasized throughout the site?
  3. Do you have a favicon or need help creating one?
  4. Do you have a tagline or do you need help creating one for your site?
  5. Do you have a list of pages you'd like to see on the new website (based on your customer research and previous site analytics)?
  6. How many pages do you think the finished website will have?
  7. Have you created any page layout ideas?
  8. Do you have content (copy, graphics, etc.), or will content creation be a part of the scope of work?
  9. Do you have the original artwork for any graphics you want to use?
  10. Do you have any specific photos you plan to use?
  11. Do you have the full rights to use those photos?
  12. Can you provide the original high-resolution photo files (RAW or JPEG) to us?
  13. Will we need to include any additional photography (professional photos or stock photos) to the scope of work?
  14. Will there be any videos or audio files as a part of the website?
  15. Do you have the proper video/audio files to share with us?
  16. Will creating new video/audio content be a part of the scope of work?
  17. Is there a specific type of content like eBooks you would like included?
  18. Would you like to have an online chat feature?
  19. Do you expect to have non-English speaking visitors to your site?
  20. Would you like eCommerce on the site?
  21. How do you process payments and will the provider integrate with the new site?
  22. What other systems, such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, do you have in place that might integrate with the site?
  23. What other marketing technology tools (e.g. Salesforce, MailChimp, etc.) might be integrated with the site?
  24. Will you want training for making website updates, publishing content, user management, etc.?
  25. Will you need users to have different levels of access (e.g. memberships or subscriptions)?
  26. Will you be utilizing a blog?
  27. Do you want user forums?
  28. Would you like users to be able to self-register?
  29. Do you want to use forms?
  30. Would you like social sharing options (e.g. users can share post to Facebook)?
  31. Do you want a calendar (the ability to schedule events and allow users to see those events) on the site?
  32. Do you have a preference for what analytics solution is setup on the site?
  33. How much traffic does your current site experience and what increase are you expecting for the new site?
  34. What Search Engine Optimization (SEO) are you expecting to have completed when the site is ready to go live (sitemap, page titles, on-page structure/layout, schema, metadata, image alt/caption/description, keyword(s), etc.)?
  35. Is SEO something you would like in the scope of work, something you or your team will handle, or something you would like to receive training on?
  36. Is there any type of customization you expect (e.g. something unique to your industry like a complex search tool)?
  37. Are there any other specifications or specific wants/needs not addressed in this questionnaire?
The time/expense it takes to develop and design a website is 100% contingent upon the scope of work. A basic 3-5 page website with limited functionality may take between 10-20 hours. Small and Medium Sized business (SMB) sites may take between 50-100 hours because functionality varies from SMB to SMB. More complex sites may take in excess of 100 hours. What have you prepared for?
  1. When would you like your website to go live?
  2. What is your monthly recurring budget for recurring expenses such as hosting?
  3. What is your annual recurring budget for expenses such as plugins and technology tools?
  4. What is your project budget for the development and design of the site?