When working on a new website project with a client, especially a new site launch, it is vital to have a clear definition of the project’s scope and the expectations of the future website owner.

It’s far too easy for corporate politics and personal preferences to drive the features and processes of a website unless you consciously force the client — and yourself, at times — to focus on the needs of the users and the purpose of the site. Outlining the basic requirements and goals also helps to limit scope creep later on in the project. Especially because many clients are non-technical, they struggle to explain what they want in the context of websites.

By providing them with a list of questions, they can fill in the blanks for you without feeling like they are expected to know how to design a website. After all, that’s what they’re paying you to do, right?

How to Avoid Website Development Mistakes

To ensure clarity and focus in website projects, I have compiled a list of 10 essential questions that clients should consider beforehand. These questions aim to prompt reflection on the client’s core business, unique selling points, and target audience.

By encouraging clients to express their ideas upfront, designers can establish themselves as attentive listeners. While primarily designed for small agencies and freelance designers working with small to medium-sized businesses, this questionnaire has also proven valuable in expediting initial discussions with larger corporations.

1. In one sentence, how would you describe your company or organization?

Surprisingly, a lot of small businesses have never bothered to respond to this straightforward question. You’ll have an anchor to tie the whole project together if you can get this insight from them. The project is likely to become a disorganized, sloppy website project if the client is unable to accomplish this.

2. What makes you unique?

In marketing lingo: “What’s your value proposition?” Helping the client define what makes them stand out from their competition can be one of the most helpful insights you can attain at the forefront. If you know what makes them unique, you have a great basis for building a website.

3. How do you describe your primary site audience?

Is the audience young? Old? Web-literate?

Understanding the target audience can affect everything, including the navigation strategy and font size, and style. A lot of clients will talk about their ideal clientele instead of the real audience that comes to their website. If they already have a website, take their input as advice and verify what you can with analytics reports.

4. What is the primary purpose of the site?

Many client want their site to be everything to everyone. By writing down a single primary purpose, they’re setting the direction for the site.

Is the purpose to generate a lead/ contact? Sell an item? Inform the visitor?

Induce some other action?

5. Do you prioritize short-term single visits or long-term repeat visits?

With this information, you can help the client determine whether the content of the site will drive their focus. A brochure-ware site will not encourage repeat visits because the content will be static for long periods. A daily blog might not make sense if one-time visits are the primary focus.

6. If a visitor spends 2 minutes on your site, what 3 things (in order of priority) do you want them to know?

This question is all about defining the site’s goals and preventing scope creep. With this data and the responses to a few of the preceding questions, you should to have a clear idea of what the client’s needs are for the website project.

7. Who are your major competitors?

Knowing and studying your competitors will help you determine what works and what doesn’t in their specific industry during the research phase. Here, the objective is to produce a product that will make your clients love you more than the competition.

8. What sites do you like and dislike?

Seeing what your client considers to be good websites—those with features, layouts, contents, or designs that they find appealing—can be helpful.

Almost all seasoned designers have encountered situations where clients provide multiple mockups, only to discover that they want a website that closely resembles an existing one. By putting this information on the table as soon as possible, you can save time and headaches.

On the other hand, you’ll have a better idea of what to avoid if you allow the client to complain about websites they dislike. Many clients find it difficult to express their likes and dislikes until they experience them.

9. Are there specific site features you would like to see included?

This is another question to help you set the scope of the project and make sure that the expectations are discernibly explicit. Don’t let client assumptions turn your project into a money-losing proposition. Site features could be blogs, search features, social media integration, user registration, e-commerce and so forth.

10. When would you like this project to go live?

This may seem obvious, but it’s a serious issue. Assuming you have an idea of how long the project will take to finish (which, as a professional designer, you should!), this will assist you in defining the important due dates, deliverables, and benchmarks.

Additionally, it returns some accountability to the client. Who hasn’t been burned by a client who insists on keeping the launch date the same despite failing to deliver content and approvals on time? Not to mention, it will prevent the client from phoning you daily to inquire about their status.

Next Steps in Your Website Project Journey

Starting a website project demands careful thought and calculated preparation. By answering the ten crucial questions in this guide, you set yourself up for success when you try your hand at online business. Making a website that effectively resonates with users requires careful consideration of every step, including defining your audience, setting clear objectives, and choosing the right platform.

You can make sure your website not only meets but surpasses expectations, promoting growth and engagement for your company, with careful planning and well-informed decision-making.

Our team is available to assist you at any point during the development of your website if you need advice or guidance. Together, let’s create something truly remarkable that enhances your online visibility. Contact us online for a free quote, or give us a call at (+255) 783-957-836!

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