So you’ve already had that first consult call with your client where you nailed down basic info like budget, which package they’d be needing, and a general idea of scope.
But now that they’re officially on the books, it’s time to get to work gathering up clues about exactly what they are picturing in their head when they daydream about their site.
So today’s list of questions will help you do just that!
Think of it like a brand, business, & style guide you will reference every single time you have to make a design about their site, rather than having to email the client and wait for a response 87 different times throughout the project.
So obviously, you’ll have figured out a few of these things already, but you don’t want to assume how they will want their basic business deets represented online…
Some of the info they used to inquire may be different from what needs to actually go on their website.
So you’re going to be asking things like:
Registered business name & date established (For the copyright note in the footer)
For example, Paige Brunton is the name of my business, but then my official legally registered business name is Paige Brunton e.Kfr
Physical address (for stick and brick locations)
Social media links
You’ll want to make sure to ask how and where to display these things as well. So this can look like creating a little list of options and have them check all that apply.
Included as written text
Use a contact form
Appear as a map
Appear as written text
Next, you’ll want to find out if there is any established branding that you’ll need to work into the design.
Depending on who you serve and what stage of business they tend to be in, you might find that many clients don’t have actually a brand identity beyond maybe a logo.
They may not realize that branding is a separate service from web design altogether!
So before you book a client, be sure to establish whether or not branding is included in your package, and what the client will be responsible for providing.
If they don’t have branding and you plan to provide that as a service, then you will probably want to ask a lot more questions than what I’ll share here, but for the web designer working with an existing brand, whether professionally done or DIY’d, here’s what you’ll need to know…
Have you had any custom branding created for your business?
You’ll want to include instructions for how to share them, like simply listing them out, linking to a reference, or uploading to a file sharing location.
Primary & Secondary Logos
Any additional brand assets (ie. Moodboard, custom icons, custom graphic elements)
Pick 3-5 adjectives that describe your brand
This gives you great insight into how they view their business and how to create an overall site vibe that reflects that.
So a lot of this information is already going to be covered in their website copy (A.K.A the text the client gives you to include on their site).
But it can be helpful to ask them a few questions to help you understand exactly what needs to be highlighted on their website, and how your design choices can ultimately make it so that the most important things stand out.
Again, depending on your client’s budget, they may have opted to DIY their copy as opposed to hiring a professional copywriter, so you may need to look at creating additional prompts and worksheets to help them provide you with higher quality content.
I share a few of my favorite tips for helping clients gather better quality content for their site build in this post.
But in terms of making sure your design puts the right things in focus, you might ask things like:
To someone who has never heard of your business, describe what you do
Who are you trying to help & what are you trying to help them with?
What makes what you offer unique?
What do you do differently or better than anyone else?
What’s the nicest thing a client or customer has ever said about your business?
You might even have them complete an ideal client avatar exercise to help them give you a better idea of who it is you are trying to speak to with your design decisions.
Alright, time to get inside you client’s head so you can truly understand what it is they are envisioning when they dream about their site!
So you’ll want to ask questions like:
What do you like/dislike about your current website? What works and what doesn’t?
Is there anything on your current site that you feel is no longer a good reflection of you or what you offer?
Depending on whether you are redesigning their site from scratch, or just refreshing or transferring content from their current site, it can be helpful to know what still applies and what’s just plain outdated when it comes to their site.
Who are your competitors?
Have them link to their top 2-3 competitor’s websites and what they like/don’t like about how their websites work and feel.
Which websites are you currently crushing on?
These websites don’t even necessarily need to be from the same niche or industry. You just want them to list out 3-5 sites and what it is specifically about those sites that they love.
Maybe there is a cool design feature that caught their eye that you can creatively adapt to their niche and brand (without copying of course). Or maybe they love the unique way certain pages are laid out.
Try to ask questions that will help them be specific about the sites they are drooling over and why.
Describe how you want your visitors to feel when they visit your website?
Describe all the things you want your visitors to be able to physically do when they reach your website?
This one is important for nailing down actual functionality or third party integrations needed.
But you may also choose to expand on that question with something like…
What’s the first step are they hoping visitors will take the minute they land on their home page?
This will help you to clarify which of all their site goals is most important to them, and therefore what to be prioritizing in your design.
Obviously you hope to build a site that does all the things they are asking for. But if you try to draw attention to everything, you end up drawing attention to nothing.
So you can use all of these questions to design a much more effective customer journey for your clients’ site visitors.
Link to Pinterest Board
Not every client is the type to enjoy Pinterest as a planning tool, so you really have to know the type of client that you tend to serve, and whether or not this creative exercise would even be welcome.
But if your clients are the creative type, or you get the vibe that this would be a fun and useful exercise for them, then having them create a Pinterest board is a fabulous way to get inside their head and see what it is they are really picturing for their site.
Have them create a board with 10-15 images that remind them of their brand or their dream website.
But try to help them keep from being too literal when making their selections.
So if they are a Yoga Studio, you don’t want them to just Pin a bunch of Yoga Studios or Yoga Studio Websites Examples (unless they absolutely love them and have to share them with you).
What you are really looking for here is a collection of images that convey the feeling or vibe they want their new website to give off. So basically any image, even if it’s totally unrelated to Yoga, that contains the colors, textures, shapes, moods and emotions that their dream client are most likely to resonate with.
Again, some people are not able to think in the abstract in this way, so it’s really up to you to tweak the process to fit with the client you tend to serve so that completing your questionnaire doesn’t end up feeling like a chore.