A successful website begins with a clear brief. Number one on the list is your non-negotiable requirements, quickly followed by your wish-list of extras. To help you get your brief on paper, we’ve come up with a list of useful questions.
1. All about you
What does your company do? Do you have a brand stylesheet that you can share? If not, is branding something you want your web designer to help work on before building the website?
Don’t just think about where you are now. Your website will still be around in 2-3 years. What do you think your company will look like then? If you are ambitious with your company’s goals it should be reflected in your website.
What products or services do you offer? What do your target customers look like? Where do they hang out?
How long have you been operating? Number of staff? Do you have a brand story to share? Have you won any awards or received industry praise for what you do?
Does your brand have any charitable or environmental messages to deliver?
Share your mission statement if you have one. If you don’t have one yet, ask yourself why? Work on defining your purpose, values and goals.
2. Why do you need a new website now?
Are you rebranding? Launching a new business? Has your old website become obsolete?
If you have an existing site, what do you like and dislike about it?
Where is it hosted? Eventually your designer will point the domain name to the new site. The new site might come with an option of in-house hosting depending on the platform.
3. What do you want the website to achieve?
More online sales or in store sales?
More calls from customers? More emails? A higher volume of live chat?
Whatever your goal, it would be useful to quantify the number. How many sales and how many visitors would you consider a win?
If you have an existing website, what quantities of visitors/sales are you achieving and what do you think are the current barriers to higher volume?
Let your website designer know if you have any secondary objectives, such as building a mailing list or attracting investors.
3. Decide the visitor journey
Devising the visitor journey will be the role of your web designer. However, letting him/her know what you want visitors to do on your website is vital. If visitors are segmented into different groups (press, investors, repeat customers versus new customers etc.,) how different should their journey be? Will each group have a different call to action? If so, what should that call to action be? These decisions can be loose at the briefing stage. Your website designer may propose a better way to engage and convert visitors than you initially envisaged.
4. Communicate your style and website preferences
At The Web Designer Group, one of our key questions to clients is which websites they admire and which competitors they think are getting it right. This is fundamental. A web designer needs to know the competition to beat.
Alternatively, if there are sites that you strongly dislike and functions on a competitor’s website that you hate, communicate those to your designer too.
6. What should the website do and contain?
This could be as simple as deciding you want 6 pages and telling your designer their names and function. Or it could be an e-commerce store with thousands of products, hundreds of categories and sophisticated search filters.
Does the site need to integrate with any other apps or platforms? Are there any legal requirements the site should conform to? Does the site require mandatory pages?
Don’t drill down into too much detail here. Your designer can explore this further once budget and expectations are known.
7. What’s your timescale?
Do you have a deadline for the site to be finished? Will the designer be waiting for content or images from you?
8. What’s the budget?
Although this is towards the bottom of our list, in many ways budget naturally arises earlier in the brief when you detail the scope of what the website should do and contain. Being realistic on how far your budget will stretch and being up front with your designer is essential to a successful website. There could have been other options that the designer could offer if your budget is lower or higher than communicated.
It’s always wise to keep a little contingency for any extras that may arise during the design process. Sometimes you don’t realise there are features that you want until the project is underway.
That’s it! The process may sound detailed, but as you know your business and goals, it will be surprisingly easy to get this down in list form for your designer. During the process, keep track of whether your goals are being met and keep the dialogue open with your designer. Everybody in the process wants the website to be a success.
At The Web Designer Group, we offer bespoke website maintenance services once the creative design process is finished. We’re still here to support you throughout your company’s growth as your online presence increases. Web designing is our passion. We look forward to taking the journey with you.