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The top 10 questions you should ask yourself before building a website: part one

The top 10 questions you should ask yourself before building a website: part one

Every business owner needs one.

A website. But not just any old, cookie-cutter website. To stand out from the one billion sites currently on the Internet, yours needs to be ‘Gaga’.

Love her or loath her, Lady Gaga is a marketing genius. She is visually and verbally impressive, and she has a signature style that is unlike anyone else. The lady has Gaga. Which is exactly what you want for your website.

But how exactly does one get ‘Gaga’? Unless you have experience as a copywriter, designer and web developer, you’ll most likely need to hire a web team. Keep in mind that in addition to hard skills, look for soft skills such as good listening and communication.

In my experience, the two components that separate the good sites from the great sites are collaboration and communication.

A client questionnaire can unearth a company’s signature style and dig deep into the demographics of their target market. Even if you already have a website, a questionnaire is still a worthwhile exercise. You might come to the conclusion that your current online branding and messaging needs a refresh. After all, keeping things fresh keeps your audience coming back.

Lady Gaga is a marketing genius

Here are 10 top questions to think about when it comes to website design:

  1. What is your company’s ‘elevator pitch’? An elevator pitch is a short and snappy description of your business that is persuasive and sparks interest.
  2. Who typically calls or e-mails to ask about your services?
  3. What do you want your website to do? Do you want it to be your online business card, or do you want it used for outbound marketing purposes (i.e. to track clicks and visitors, to collect e-mails for e-newsletters and so on).
  4. What does your ‘perfect’ client look like?
  5. What do you offer that differentiates your company from your competitors?
  6. Who are your competitors and what makes them stand apart from others?
  7. List three websites you wish were yours (from any industry) and tell us what it is specifically, that you like about them?
  8. List three websites you really dislike and why you dislike them.
  9. Are there any short-term or long-term corporate goals that need to be considered in the website redesign?
  10. Anything else you’d like to add?

(questionnaire courtesy of Pixels & Prose)

Need to hire a web team? Here are some questions to ask. Information supplied by David Yim, a Toronto-based web developer who specializes in building educational, research and real estate websites.

Q: Which content management system/ web framework (e.g. WordPress, Drupal) is best for my project?
A: The answer really depends on you and your needs. Web frameworks and content management systems must fit the size and complexity of the project, and take into consideration the end user (you) and your needs, including your available time, knowledge and desire to update the content.

Q: How long do you think my project will take?
A: Each project is different and whatever your web team tells you, you’d be wise to double it (to account for inevitable surprises and delays on both ends).

Q: Once the project is underway, how will you communicate with me (and how often)?
A: After initial discussions and when the project is underway, I like to use collaborative online tools that allow us to discuss changes and report bugs at any point in time. Phone calls and e-mails work too, depending on the complexity of the project. Some clients like to have regularly scheduled updates, others prefer receiving recaps at each milestone. Keep in mind, the more time spent on a given project, the more it will cost.

Q: Will you be designing the site too, and writing the content?
A: If you want a professional looking site, hire a web designer and a copywriter. A web developer is the nuts and bolts person, a designer is the artist and a copywriter makes the words on your site sing. Some people have education and skills in all areas – be sure to ask.

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