Questions to Ask During the Website Kickoff Process

Key Information That Should Be Provided at the Start of a Website Project

Design
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The start of a website project is an exciting time. It is also possibly the most important point in the web design process. If you do not kick that project over correctly, there are bound to be problems later down the road – problems that should’ve been addressed in that kickoff meeting!

While different projects will require different questions to be asked (including the questions you asked in a pre-sales meeting before you even decided to move forward with this engagement), at a very high level, these meetings are about starting a conversation and getting everyone on the same page.

Let’s look at a handful of questions that are relevant for pretty much any web design and which can help generate those necessary conversations.

Note - if you are a company who is having a website built for you, then these are some of the questions your web team should be asking you. This means that these are also questions you can answer for yourself prior to a kickoff meeting in order to get your thoughts and priorities in the right place.

What are the best things about your current website?

Before you can figure out what direction the new website should go, you need to understand where that site is now and what may be working for your company and the current website.

I actually find that this is actually one of the harder questions for people to answer. Since the website is obviously in need of an overhaul (otherwise it wouldn't be going through a redesign process), companies often find it challenging to come up with positives for that site.

All they can see if what is wrong with it and not what is working. Do not fall into this trap. Consider the successes of your site so that those successes can be built upon for the new version that will be created.

What 1 thing would you change today on your site if you could?

The answer to this question is pure gold.

By answering this question, a client is revealing their #1 pain point on their current site. Make sure that no matter what else you do, you address this front and center on their new site. By doing so, you will help a company  immediately see a benefit in the new design.

If you are that company in question, really think hard about what changes would give you the maximum benefit for this newest site version. Dream big and do not concern yourself with what is possible and what is not. Let your web team determine the feasibility of your request.

Who is your site’s audience?

Websites are designed to be used by people using a variety of devices, so you need to have a clear understanding of who will be using that website, and therefore who you are designing for. Since most websites do not have only one distinct audience (but rather a varied mix of possible customers), this will certainly be a multi-part answer. That is fine. In fact, you want to have an understanding of the mix of people who will frequent a website so that you can design solutions that will not alienate any one of those potential audience segments.

What is the “win” for your website?

Every website has a “win”, which is the end goal for that site.

For an Ecommerce site like Amazon, the “win” is when someone makes a purchase. A site for a local service provider may be when someone picks up the phone and calls that company. No matter what type of site, there is a “win” and you need to understand what it is so you can best design and experience to help seal that win.

Similar to what we said about a site having multiple audiences, it is likely also going to have multiple possible "wins". In addition to someone picking up the phone, a "win" could also be the completion of a "request for information" form, registration for an upcoming event, or the download of a whitepaper or other premium content. It could also be all of these things! Understanding all the possible ways a website can connect with a user and bring value to that person (and the company whom the site is for) is essential to know at the start of a project.

Name some adjectives that describe your company

If a company wants to come across as “fun” and “friendly”, you will certainly design their site different than if they wanted to be “corporate” or “cutting edge”. By understanding the personality traits of the organization and how they wish to be perceived, you can begin to establish the design aesthetic that will be right for that project.

What is the most important thing you can say to your audience?        

Visitors who come to a website will judge that site in as little as 3-8 seconds, so there is precious little time to make an impression and convey a message. By understanding what the most important message is, you can emphasize that message and ensure that it is front and center,

What are some of your competitor’s sites?

Reviewing the competition is helpful, not so you can copy what they are doing, but so you are mindful of what others are doing online to make sure that, if they are doing something well, you can learn from that and find a way to do it even better. It is also helpful to review the websites of the competition to make sure you do not copy what they are doing, even if it is unintentional.

Name some websites, including ones outside your industry that you like.

It is helpful to have a sense of a client’s preferred design tastes before you begin designing their new website, so reviewing some sites that they enjoy will give you some insight into their likes and dislikes.

Edited by Jeremy Girard on 1/7/17