9 Critical Questions to Ask Before Starting a New Website

Designing a new website can be exciting and daunting at the same time. This is the perfect time to define your target market, content architecture, key performance indicators and functionality requirements to determine what your website needs to do, why it exists and for whom it should engage. Simply making your website pretty cannot accomplish this. You need to have a strong understanding of the business to create a website that supports its goals. An effective website not only looks aesthetically appropriate for your target audience but is also user-friendly and is intuitive. To build a successful website, you must answer some key questions before looking for a web design and development firm.

Why do you need a new website?

Before you start any website design project, it is important to understand why you need a new website and how does it align with your business goals. Perhaps it’s because your website is outdated, not mobile-friendly, not meeting your needs, slow-loading, ranks poorly or does not convert your prospects into customers.

Website goals must be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Based) to be effective.

A broad goal: I want a successful website.

A SMART goal: I want to improve conversion by 30% within one month of launch.

This goal is SMART because:

  • Specific: Improving conversion by 30% is specific.
  • Measurable: This goal can be measured with Google Analytics.
  • Attainable: The website will be redesigned with this goal in mind.
  • Relevant: Improving conversion provides purpose to the redesign.
  • Time-based: The new website will be up and running within three months and we will have one month to determine if the project is a success.

Your website is the face of your company and if it showcases your business well can drive a lot of sales. A nice-looking website is not enough to accomplish your marketing goals. Understanding why you need a new website helps create an effective web design strategy and increases your chances of online success.

Do you already have an established brand?

Many startups come looking for a website when they do not even have a brand or even logo designed yet and they just tell us to leave the upper left corner of their website blank. At a minimum, you need to have a logo designed before you start your website. Learn more on what creates powerful logo design.

Many people fail to understand the difference between a brand and a logo. A brand is your target market’s gut feeling (experiences, impressions, and knowledge) about your company, products or services. A logo is simply a mark that represents your organization and expresses some characteristics of your brand but does not illustrate everything about your brand. Your logo and brand drives the look and feel of your website so you must start with that first.

Who is your target market?

Defining your target market is the first step in designing a website and writing amazing content that suits their needs. You may want to segment your users by age, gender, income, social media networks they frequent and/or education level. You might want to go one step further and define your target persona, which goes beyond demographics and psychographics and focuses more on your ideal customers’ motivations, pain points and buying process. Understanding your target market and target personas will help you create a website that solves their problems and engages them through each phase until they are ready to purchase.

What are your website requirements?

Your website requirements describe what you need your website to do. If you need an eCommerce website, list out your functionality requirements for your homepage, checkout, product details, search results and email autoresponders? Are you including the cost of shipping in your product or do you need a shipping to be dynamically calculated? Are you allowing customer reviews, custom orders or promo codes? It also helps to browse similar websites so you know what’s out there and what you like and don’t like.

What are your competitors doing?

Checking out your competition educates you on what others are doing and borrow their best website features. In addition, you can find opportunities to improve on what the market already offers and you can differentiate your website design from them.

Where is the content?

When you hire a web design agency, there is work on your part as well. In particular, you need someone who will write and organize your website content. Start with an outline of the pages you plan to have and organize your content into buckets. If you are redesigning your website, now is the perfect time to purge, rewrite and restructure your content. Write for your target market first and foremost but also be sure to do some keyword research beforehand so you can incorporate your SEO keywords into your website copy naturally. Your website design needs to speak to your content so designing with placeholder text is a huge no-no. Here are some tips on writing convincing content.

Do you have a deadline?

Many business owners only think of their website when there is a looming tradeshow or product launch. An informational website can take a few weeks whereas an eCommerce website can take a few months so be sure to plan accordingly.

Who is the Project Manager?

There should be one website project manager who communicates all feedback and approvals. Having multiple stakeholders chime in will wreak havoc on your website design especially if there are conflicting views.

What is your budget?

Many potential clients refuse to disclose their budget when they ask us for a website proposal. This is very counterproductive. If we know your budget, we can make budget-friendly recommendations. If you have a very tight budget, we can customize a premade theme or we could suggest launching in phases. We have been using Elegant Themes’ Divi theme for lower budget clients and it has worked out well!

Wrapping it up

These questions will prevent scope creep and post development fixes. If you do not clearly define what you really want in your website, you will waste valuable time and budget. If you are ready to start your web design project, please contact our San Francisco web development team.

Ready to discuss your project?