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80 Questions to ask when developing a website

  • Resource
  • Published by David Pottrell

So you’ve just secured a fantastic web design project and you’re really excited. Great! Is your code editor open? Close it.

It’s so easy to be caught up in the excitement of a brand new project. You’ve had an initial discussion, you’re full of some great (and bad) ideas and you’re ready to make a start. This is where scope creep occurs and projects go over their estimated timeframe or things are missed.

By asking all the right questions early on you reduce the risk of this project scope creep. It could be that your client has also been caught up in the excitement and has forgotten about something they need, eg. that really important feature that actually determines the layout of the homepage.

With this in mind, we have created a list of 80 questions that we use to determine the scope of any new web project. By looking through these answers early, scope creep is kept to a minimum and ensures that the client’s final product is exactly what they want with no surprises.

80 Questions to ask your client

Background Information

Getting to know the basics.

  1. Who is your target audience.
  2. What is the purpose of the new website?
  3. What makes you different from your competitors?
  4. Why should people do business with you rather than your competitors?
  5. What do you like most about your current website?
  6. Is there any functionality on your current website that you would like to keep?
  7. What are your top 3 frustrations with your current website?
  8. What do your current competitors’ websites have that you wish to have?
  9. Can you describe the style of the website you would like.
  10. Do you have specific company colors that need to be used?
  11. Do you have any other materials that the site needs to match with in some way (eg. printed material)?
  12. Are there any websites with designs that you like?
  13. What types of things do you see on other websites that you really like?
  14. What types of things do you see on other websites that you really hate?
  15. Name the 3 things that are most important in the design of your new website.
  16. Name the 3 things that are least important in the design of your new website.
  17. Where is your current website hosted?
  18. Do you have full access?
  19. Can you provide usernames and passwords?
  20. Who will be involved on your end in the development of the website?
  21. Who or how will you be managing website upkeep?

Scope & Specs

Finding out the details.

  1. Does your current web host meet all your new website’s needs (space, bandwidth, databases, etc.)?
  2. Do you plan on or need to move to a new host provider?
  3. Do you need help finding the right web host?
  4. Do you already have a URL you plan to use?
  5. If not, do you need help selecting and registering the new URL?
  6. Do you have a logo you plan to use or will one need to be created?
  7. If you have one, can you provide the original artwork files?
  8. Do you have a tagline you wish to use or do you need help creating one for your site?
  9. Do you have a completed site architecture for the new website or will this be part of the scope of work?
  10. Do you have the content for the website or will content creation be a part of the scope of work?
  11. How many pages of content will need to be developed?
  12. Will we be importing and formatting your content, or do you plan to do this?
  13. Do you or your team need training for making website updates, content publishing guidelines, etc?
  14. What types of actions do you want your visitors to take on your website?
  15. Do you have any specific photos you plan to use?
  16. Do you have full rights to those files?
  17. Can you provide hi-res files to us?
  18. Will we need to find and/or create any images for the website?
  19. Will video or audio be a part of the new website?
  20. Can you provide us the proper files or is creation of this content part of the scope of work?
  21. Do you have any other media or PDF documents that need to be incorporated, or will any need to be created?
  22. Will your visitors require any special needs (i.e., screen reader ready, larger fonts)?
  23. Do you require your site to be mobile/tablet friendly (responsive design)?
  24. Do you have any specific mobile/tablet requirements?
  25. Will you need a shopping cart system for ecommerce?
  26. Do you need a content management system?
  27. Do you have a preference for which CMS to use? (i.e., WordPress, Modx, Drupal, Magento, etc.)
  28. If not, do you need help selecting the best CMS for your needs?
  29. Does your site need a blog or news feature?
  30. Will users need to log in to your site for any reason?
  31. If so, why?
  32. Do you need any password protected areas?
  33. What kind of content will be put behind password protected areas?
  34. How many web forms does your new site need?
  35. What is the purpose of each?
  36. How do you want the submitted info handled? (email, database, etc.)
  37. Do you need any social sharing features built in (tweet, like, +1, share, etc.)?
  38. Will there be any third-party applications that will need to be integrated?
  39. What are they?
  40. Will you need an events calendar feature?
  41. Do you have any subscription services?
  42. Do you use a third party for any part of subscription content delivery and/or payment?
  43. Do you require printer friendly options?
  44. What information must be on the home page?
  45. What information must always be visible?
  46. What features, sections or information do you want emphasized on the site?
  47. How would you like that to be featured?
  48. Will different sections of your site require different designs, layouts or coloring?
  49. Do you need an internal site search feature?
  50. Do you want contact phone numbers prominently displayed?
  51. Do you have a Google Analytics account?
  52. Can you provide us access?
  53. Do you have any other specifications or need specific functionality that has not been addressed?
  54. What is your time frame for total project completion?
  55. Do you have a budget you are trying to meet?

Avoiding those Post-Project Fixes

Unfortunately it’s almost a rite of passage for designers and developers, that one project with a runaway scope, the one that never ends. You can avoid this by forward planning and ensuring that everything is understood on both sides before sending over the proposal for the work.

Do you have any other questions that you ask your clients or wish you were asked? Comment or tweet and let us know!

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