You’re thinking about redesigning your website (or maybe need a new one from scratch). You have a high level idea of what you want, but the specifics escape you.

We might use websites constantly, but planning a website isn’t easy. There are hundreds of decisions to make and the critical decisions aren’t always obvious.

Building the right website is a byproduct of understanding exactly what you need. Websites are nearly infinitely flexible — you can have nearly anything you think up. While great in theory, it does make planning difficult. You may feel like an artist staring at a blank canvas. You may have little more in mind beyond “…a website that makes us look good.”

Planning is difficult and requires ample thought. Luckily we’ve found ten simple questions that can clarify your direction.

Questions to Ask

  1. What do you hope to get out of the site? Visibility? Leads? Sales? Trust?
  2. Do you need a custom design unique to your website or are you OK using an existing template?
  3. Do you need to be able to update and manage the site in-house?
  4. How important are mobile users? More or less important than larger screens? (i.e. some websites have more mobile users than desktops/laptops.)
  5. Do you need the ability to publish company news, articles or blog posts?
  6. Do you need a section on your site dedicated to your company and/or team?
  7. Do you need to sell products on your website?
  8. Are you hoping to capture leads on your site?
  9. Do you need any special capabilities like a store locator, online portfolio, online courses, etc…?
  10. Do you need pages on your site dedicated to your offerings? If so, how many products or services do you have?

That wasn’t so hard, was it? Now you have a high-level project scope. For example, you might have realized:

“I’m looking for a site that establishes credibility with new prospects. We need a custom design that we can manage ourselves. We expect more mobile users than desktop/laptop so it’s important the site is mobile friendly.

We’ll post articles twice per month. We’d like to a page discussing our company and each department. We don’t need to sell anything online but need to generate leads through an online form. We want to showcase past work with five case studies. We offer six different services, each needing a page.”

Where to Go From Here

While this summary is not a full project scope it’s enough to start more detailed discussions. If you’re working with a vendor they’ll help you add detail to each requirement. If we’re to revisit the “online form” from the summary above the vendor will ask what information you need to capture such as name, company, phone, etc… They might also ask if this form needs to integrate with any other systems — for example, SalesForce or other CRMs. After a few minutes of discussions you both have a clear understanding of exactly what that online form will do.

This process is repeated for each requirement until you have a detailed outline of what your new website will be. This outline can be used as a roadmap for identifying what resources need to be budgeted to get the site built.

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