The secret of running a successful web design business is communication. You could be the best web designer in the world but, if you can’t easily find out what your clients want, then you won’t go very far in this business.
Above is a web form that you are free to use. It contains most of the questions I ask potential clients when they need a website. Of course, not everything inside the client’s mind can be understood from the answers of a questionnaire, but this can help as an initial sounding board. Here’s a video about the web form.
Click on the icons above for a PDF (for printing out, filling out and sending in snail mail – not cool!) and a Word doc (which the client can type on, save and send to you – still not cool!)
The web form is here. Let’s go through each section in detail.
What does the client have currently?
Most people that contact me have some sort of web presence already. They may have a website which they want to improve. They may have used a logo or certain colors before and it’s important to get this information from them. With this in mind, the questions can start off like this:
- Does the client currently have a website or have they already purchased a domain?
- Does the client want me to arrange hosting
- Does the client have a logo, corporate colors, text or images already that they would like me to use?
What does the client want?
Now we get onto the nitty gritty. Every website should have one main objective and target audience. It’s good to focus your client’s mind on a single objective at this early stage. So, the questions continue like this:
- What is the website’s main purpose? (selling products, gathering email addresses, promoting your services, etc.)
- What is the desired outcome from a typical visitor? (to make a purchase, to contact the client, to leave an email address, etc.)
I always ask for specific requirements: Does the client want any of the following (blog, contact form, email sign-up form, e-commerce, etc.)?
Every web designer will offer certain features as standard and these will differ between individuals so the options here are fairly arbitrary. Just for the record, here’s what I always provide for new websites as standard, whether I’m asked for them or not:
- HTML5 mark-up with Schema support
- Completely responsive to different sized devices
- XML Sitemap and registering with Google Webmaster Tools
- Google Analytics
- Keywords in URLs “pretty permalinks”
- Caching plug-in
- Contact form
- I will also always discuss Google Authorship with the client
The client’s brand
I also ask questions about how the client sees their company and their audience. The questionnaire has quite a selection of adjectives that people can check off to see if they apply to them (Accommodating; Proud; Rebellious; Accurate; Adventurous; Aggressive, etc.) This can give you a good idea of where they’re coming from. An understanding of the brand, the market and the customer is essential.
Then there are a few obvious loose ends to tie up:
- How many pages will the finished website have roughly?
- What is the budget?
- What is the deadline?
And, finally, I always ask if there are two or three websites that the client likes or would like to emulate. It can be difficult if they only suggest one but if they give you two or three websites to emulate this can be really helpful.
Here’s a video about how I created the web form: