Client meetings don’t just go one way. While your clients might come prepared with a list of questions for you, you’ll want to have some questions of your own. Here are the top ten questions you need to be asking your clients if you aren’t already.
Why do you want a website?
This question can come two ways. Of course, everyone wants a website to communicate with somebody. But why do they want to communicate? You’ll need to know the answer to this question to contextualize the function fo the site.
This also helps you understand why they believe they need a new website. What’s wrong with their previous website? If they don’t have a previous website, why did they decide they need one now? Their understanding of these questions and the sophistication of their answers will give you a deep degree of insight into the client’s sophistication and requirements.
What’s your target audience?
This is an enormously broad question, of course, but the answer can give you a strong impression of how much market research the client has done. If they’re not quite sure who their target audience is, you might find that they don’t know much else either. A clear and well-defined target audience, on the other hand, gives the impression of a company with a clear vision.
Why will people visit your website?
When a user visits a website, they do so to accomplish a specific goal. They might be seeking entertainment or education. They might be buying something for themselves or their business. What will be the motivation for users who visit your website? You’ll also want to consider how they get to the site. Is it through a direct link, Google search results, or some other method?
What makes your company special?
Visitors aren’t going to visit this potential website unless there is a good reason. This question can be boiled down to a companies degree of success or “specialness.” If the company doesn’t know the answer to this question, they’re going to want to find out fast. It’s hard to sell a company through web design alone. So if they don’t know what unique attributes might draw users to the website, you’ll have a hard time telling them the answer. Of course, you might be able to make some suggestions, but who knows if they’d be accurate. You can’t be expected to be an expert in running every kind of business, after all.
What’s your ultimate goal for a successful visit?
If someone visits your website, what does a “successful” visit look like? This is a success from the business’ perspective. Is it a purchase or a certain duration on the website? Depending on the business, these might be called conversions or purchases. By defining what a successful visit looks like before web design begins, you can construct the website to guide the user towards those goals.
What metrics will you use to track your results?
If you’re building someone’s first website, they might not even know that Google Analytics exists, or what its capable of. This is a great opportunity for you to show off your subject matter knowledge when you explain the power of this free software tool. You can also dig into their business metrics to determine what kinds of key performance indicators they’ll be looking to track. This will enable you to build a site that makes that kind of tracking both possible and easy.
How will you create content? What type of content?
Websites live and die by content. Even if the goal is not to function as a blog or news hub, websites still require regular updates to stay up on their SEO juice. Knowing what type of content your clients are creating will help you to build a website and chose a CMS to manage that content effectively. The wrong CMS is hard to change down the line, and a client won’t appreciate being saddled with a frustrating system, even if it’s their own fault. This is your opportunity to avoid that situation.
What do you like about your favorite websites? What do you hate?
The modern shape of the world is such that everyone uses a website for something. Even if it’s just Facebook, ask your clients what they like about the websites they use every day. This can give you excellent insight into their desires as well as their degree of web savvy. If they just say, “I don’t know, but I like to talk to my friends,” you know they’re focused on content. If they complain about the layout, you know they’re sensitive to visual design. These details are important, but no one will tell you them outright. You need to read between the lines to uncover their preferences.
The opposite question is just as important. Getting into your client’s pet peeves can be a major help to ensure you’re giving them something they’ll be satisfied with. Even reasonable clients might be unhappy with a perfectly serviceable design if it touches on a sore spot that you were unaware of. Make sure you get any dislikes out in the open before you start laying things out.
Has your company developed any existing collateral?
If there is existing content like photographs, logos or brochures, you’ll want to know about it. On one hand, you’ll want to match the designs to create a consistent design language across all media. On the other hand, it might help illustrate what flavor of design your client likes best. If they’re proud of they’re collateral, you’ll know to emulate it. If they’re a little embarrassed by it, you’ll know to avoid the same. And, like many of the other questions on this list, you can judge the client’s degree of sophistication from their existing collateral or lack thereof.
What features does the website need?
Of course, our last question is the most fundamental. You’ll need to know the must-have features of the website in order to plan your design and quote an estimate. Important features might be a shopping cart, social media integration, a blog, responsive design, specific ad placements, or certain contact requirements.