Having surpassed all the competitors around and taken a new intriguing website design project is a true cause of excitement.
When you’ve got your head buzzing with millions of fresh ideas and creative ambitions, it’s pretty tempting to set about tackling the fun part of design. You can’t wait to create a unique product you can be proud of. And that’s great!
But the challenge of every new project is that there’s always a risk of finding yourself in a dead-end street, if you fail to meet your client’s expectations from the very beginning.
So what’s the first step you should take when starting a new project?
If you want to wow your client with the final result, you need to put yourself in their shoes and understand their motivation, strengths, pain points, objectives and budget, as well as their target audience, marketing tactics and lead generation strategies right from the beginning.
Here are 10 questions you can ask your client to get your web project kicked off at the right angle and make sure that the newly-designed website hits the mark.
What’s your business about?
Getting to know your client is the best starting point.
The answer to this question might be quite obvious if you’re going to work for, let’s say, a kid’s toy store selling Play-Doh sets or fluffy bears. But what if you had to design a website for a company providing “risk identification and management services in marine and renewable industry”?
Regardless of who your client is, you need to have an in-depth idea of what they exactly do, how long they have been in the market, what are their company’s key values, etc. This information will take out the guesswork from your planning and decision-making process. Knowing who you are working for will give you more confidence in what you do.
Why do you need a website?
Clients often come to you, already having visualized the future website in their mind. But let’s be honest. Many of them don’t have the answer to the simple question – “what do you need it for?”
People might want a new site because of the urge to keep up with marketing trends or at least not to fall behind the Joneses. But a website can’t be an end in itself. To be more frank, any business website must serve for making money.
As a professional, your task is to dig deeper and identify the real business problems your client wants to solve by creating a website. Ask about the primary and secondary goals to be accomplished. It can be anything from boosting brand awareness to driving customer engagement, and accordingly, sales.
Asking a few more “whys” will help you get a better understanding of your client’s real motivations and suggest solutions that will work best for them.
Who's your target audience?
When starting a project, you often think of creating a beautiful website with good functionality. But even the latest bells and whistles may be purposeless, if your design doesn’t correspond to online marketing rules.
Remember that beauty is always in the eye of the beholder. It’s your online marketing tactics and the customer’s profile that dictate the ideal looks, layout and structure of your website.
Ask your client who the new website is designed for and be all ears when they describe their target audience. Identify types of customers who might be interested in the website, as well as your client’s ideal customer profile. Here are some details you can hunt for about the prospective customer:
- Demographics – customers’ age, gender, schooling, occupation, income, marital status, etc.
- Psychographics – customers’ values, hobbies and interests, lifestyle and online behavior
Creating several user personas based on this data and knowing the psychology, pain points and needs of their customers will help you get lots of design ideas.
What do you want your customers to do?
This is actually the question that will help you work you magic and create a meeting point for your client and their customers.
Great design is the one that’s irresistible and gets the target audience do what you want. Otherwise, it’s a nice piece of art. And this is not only about kick-ass CTAs. The overall design of your website should be consistent with your prospective customers and the business goals to be accomplished.
You should find out how your client wants to connect emotionally with their customers and how they want customers to perceive their brand. Then you should consider what the potential visitors will expect to experience in the website. Putting it altogether, you’ll be able to create the ideal compromise point for your client and their target audience.
What makes you stand out from others?
Online shoppers are far from being reliable friends. They often visit a website to have a quick look around or compare the prices and jump to another site to find something better or cheaper.
In order to build meaningful (read “profitable”!) and long-lasting customer relationships, businesses have to be truly remarkable. So ask you client what makes them stand out from their competitors:
- An exceptional service?
- Free shipping?
- A powerful product guarantee?
- Being a social business?
You should make it plain to your clients that they have only one chance to create a first impression. You have to communicate the idea of uniqueness through the website to win the visitors’ hearts from the first moments of their experience.
And if there’s nothing that makes them unique, your question will be a good nudge to start thinking about it.
Who are your top competitors?
What can be a better source of inspiration than competitors? Having identified the goals and struggles of your client, it’s time to gather some information on their top competitors.
Your client surely knows the “online rivals” who’re likely to steal potential customers from their website. Ask them what they like the most about the competitors’ sites and do your own research to find what’s so special about them. This will help you have a better vision of your design.
What would you like to have on your website?
Of course, you don’t want your client to appear with a frowning face at the end of the project, complaining that they haven’t got what they wanted.
Strange as it may seem, misunderstandings are avoidable even with the most difficult client. You just shouldn’t be afraid to ask straightforward questions at times.
Besides following web design trends and strategies, you should also ask your client if there’s anything special they’d like to have on their website. They’ve probably stumbled upon some features they like and want to try on their own site. It can be a website chat box, a blog, a photo gallery or a contact request form. The business owner may also have a better idea of what sort of things you can use to build the visual brand identity.
What would you rather sidestep?
Design is subjective. What seems amazing to you, my seem dull or annoying to your client. Don’t play it by ear. Take the time to ask your client if there are certain things they dislike and don’t want to have in their website.
Give your client a chance to vent and let you know if there are any colors and features to avoid. Also, make sure to ask if there’s a brand style guide you should adhere. Most clients won’t remember to send you a guide unless you ask for one, some of them won’t even have it, yet any existing material can save you time and help you in your decision making process.
Do you have a domain?
Getting a domain name and hosting might seem a trivial matter. Yet, authentic designers know that this kind of issues can take longer than expected and might even cause the project to be halted.
If your client is still being in two minds about the hosting costs and similar details, you can speed up the process by suggesting an optimal solution.
This can be easily settled, choosing a website builder, like Ucraft, that allows you to get a subdomain or connect a custom domain for free. It will save you and your client time, money and extra efforts.
When are we launching the new site?
Having to stay up a few nights in a row, drinking tons of coffee doesn’t sound cool, right? To avoid bad surprises and make your work a lot less stressful, you should find out from the beginning if your client has specific deadlines.
This will help you split your working process into smaller phases and prioritize your tasks. And if the client comes up with an idea of a last-minute change (like they usually do), you’ll be able to handle the situation without missing the deadline.
So, here we are! These were just a few questions you can ask your client and kick off your website design project with flying colors.