Building a website, for the sake of building a website, is the easiest way to waste money on your company’s marketing. A vastly better approach, is to “invest” in your website, with the objective of creating a well-designed, strategised and executed marketing channel. There’s enough information, research and case studies which show why having your own website as the center point of all your marketing activities is the best investment that you can make in the long run. I will do that in another post perhaps.
The first step in a website design project is to have a detailed and thorough planning and discovery phase. After years of designing websites, we have designed an ever evolving process that has led to amazing website designs. This process starts with answering several questions regarding the website project. The objective of answering these questions is to ensure we get a detailed overview of the entire website and online marketing plan, so that we can solve as many problems as possible in the given budget and time constraints.
Some of these questions might have been answered during the proposal stage itself, while others might take more time to answer. However, having a long-range view of the project, and looking at it from various angles, is the best way to ensure long-term success.
Questions to Consider in Your Website Discovery Phase
Marketing: Overview and Goals
What types of marketing are you currently involved in or practice on a regular basis?
Do you have a mission and vision statement? A Tagline?
What differentiates your company’s marketing from your competitors?
When it comes to marketing (in general), what are your biggest challenges?
Are there any short-term or long-term corporate goals that need to be considered in the website redesign?
Branding and Design
How would you describe your brand in a few simple sentences?
How would your customers/consumers describe your brand?
Do you have a branding guideline/strategy in place?
Are there certain colors or design elements that pertain to your brand?
What products/services/elements need to be prominently featured?
How would you briefly define your product or service offering?
Do certain products and/or services speak to different type of clients?
What is the target demographic of your website visitors?
Are there specific sectors, industry segments, company sizes, geography that needs to be focused on more than others?
How would you describe the various types of people that visit your website during the sales cycle? Can they be classified into clear “personas” with varying degrees of needs?
Do your potential clients have a standard list of needs or problems that they discuss with you during the sales process?
List a few competitors that you’d consider benchmark companies?
What about these companies makes them stand apart from others?
What elements of these companies and/or their online activity would you like to model after in your design?
What differentiates you, your products/services from your competitors?
What do you do better than your competitors?
What are some things your competitors do better than you?
What websites (in general) make you happy?
When looking at these websites, what particularly makes you happy on each one?
Do you have multiple locations?
Where are they located?
Do you offer different products or services per location?
What keywords or phrases would “you” use to search for your products and/or service offering?
What search terms are your competitors targeting?
Of the words you just listed, which ones would you like to target with the new website?
Do you have existing content that can support these keywords or phrases?
Does your existing website and content rank for these phrases?
Do you need assistance with search engine optimization?
Do you have someone who can:
– Review desired keywords and match the keywords to your existing or future content?
– Create or review content for SEO best practices?
– Create unique meta titles and descriptions per page or blog post?
Do you have a Google and Bing Analytics/ Webmaster account?
Will you need keyword audits or other SEO services?
What channels will you use to push content once it’s published?
Content to Assemble for Go-Live
High resolution logo
Blog posts and Articles
Literature or brochures
Testimonials and Case studies
Press releases / Media mentions
Videos, Images, Podcasts
Other marketing collateral
Do you have a documented content strategy?
What social media channels do you utilize?
Do you need a subscription option or other offer?
What types of content will you publish on the site?
Do you currently have duplicate content on your site?
Will you be updating and reusing content and/or images from your current website?
Will you be writing the content for the site? Will you be blogging?
Will you be uploading and formatting the content for the site?
Do you create ebooks, whitepapers, case studies, presentations or any other resources for sales/marketing purposes?
Do you have photos and visuals to use for the site that can be used for commercial purposes or should we budget for stock or custom photography?
How often will you be updating the content on your site?
Lead Generation and Ecommerce
What are your biggest lead generation challenges?
Do you collect information from visitors and store this in a CRM or use it to inform marketing efforts?
What fields do you currently or want to include on forms?
What information is a nice-to-have versus a must-have?
What types of emails do you send to subscribers, prospects, leads, and customers?
Have you established your lead scoring criteria?
Do you plan to sell anything through your website? Will we need to find an ecommerce platform to handle carts, customer accounts, discount codes, and payment processing?
Conversion Rate Optimisation:
Have you performed A/B tests of your landing pages and calls-to-action to increase clickthrough rates?
Do you want automated emails to be triggered by actions customers take on your website?
Will you be running ads — native, display, search, etc. — to drive traffic to your site?
Do you send email marketing communications?
Do you need to purchase a domain name?
Who is currently hosting your websites?
Can they support content management systems such as WordPress, Drupal, etc?
Do you know where your DNS is controlled?
Do you need help setting up security measures?
Who will update the CMS core and plugins?
Are there any technical features and functions that you need on the website?
How will you measure results?
What is the main goal of your website (inquiries, e-commerce sales, etc.)?
What is the most important factor of your new website?
What functional requirements are needed within the new website?
What is the proposed date for kicking off your web design project?
What is your desired date for go-live?
What is your project budget?