I have seen Internet Design morph from a simple “business card” design in 1997 to encompass a complete “web site” that can be used for marketing, sales, service and support.
In 1998, I remember thinking, “One day all of our product manuals will be accessible online”. Then it was, “Let’s answer all the support questions ever asked us with a FAQ site to keep the calls to support to a minimum.” This was the basic mentality at the time as we poked and prodded this new “Internet” toy and brainstormed on all it could be.
Now, 12 years later, we still see basic sites requested but the number of requests for fully functional, interactive sites is increasing exponentially. Business owners recognize the importance of Internet Marketing and operating web sites that allow their customers to interact directly with staff to get answers instantly, leading to sales, increased retention or excellent customer service.
When initially planning the design of a new website, many questions must be answered by the client before a single stroke of the keys can occur in the actual “construction” of the site.
Whether you are creating a new website from scratch or remodeling an old one, you need to have a clear vision and outlined strategy of what you want in a website. The following questionnaire will help you clarify your thoughts so that you, or your web designer, can create the best website for you business. Complete it as best you can. If a question does not apply, just skip it. There won’t be a test. It is a lot of work, but the more effort you put into this exercise, the happier you will be with the finished product.
Website Questionnaire Exercise
1. What is the purpose behind the development of your website? Is it a…..
- A Business Card Site (a site that contains brief introduction to your company)
- A Brochure site (a site that provides information about your topic and about your company)
- An E-commerce Site (a site that sells items directly or through affiliate links)
2. Here are some common reasons for building a site. Rank them in order of importance to you.
_____To provide improved customer service.
_____To sell a product or products. (E-commerce)
_____To build familiarity with potential customers.
_____To provide general and/or detailed product info
_____To build customer loyalty.
_____To make an announcement.
_____Display my business in a favorable light
_____Develop a list of qualified prospects
_____Encourage clients/customers to contact us
_____Brand our corporate name
3. What are your goals in having a site? List both short-term and long-term goals. Define the criteria that will determine if the web site is a success.
4. Write a short description of your business. Clearly and concisely describe what you offer, to whom you offer it and why they should choose you.
What does your company do? What are the features of your products and/or services? Is the company local, regional, national or international? What areas do you want to specifically appeal to?
5. Who is your target market? Be specific. This will help you determine which style will appeal to most of your visitors.
6. What is your marketing plan? Underline any of the following terms that apply to your vision of your site. Do you have design elements in mind that portray these terms to you and your visitors?
informative, lucrative, attractive, serene, honest, mature, family, scholarly, educational, useful, popular, clean, colorful, whimsical, humorous, serious, profitable, unusual, cozy, clear-cut, warm/fuzzy, warm, supportive, innovative, fast-moving
7. What is the most important message you wish to convey to your Internet visitors?
8. If you want an E-commerce site, what type of e-commerce solution do you require?
- Full e-commerce shopping cart with automated real-time credit card processing, integrated with backend database.
- Multi-page secure order form with shopping cart, visitors can pick products while continuing to look at the site, change their order, preview order and submit on-line. Order sent as e-mail or downloaded via FTP from the server.
- Flat file page, non-interactive. Visitors must print and fax order or phone order in.
- Single page secure order form that sends each order as an e-mail.
9. List all of the methods for payment options (money order, check, internet check, Pay Pal and other various credit cards, etc.) you will accept.
10. Do your customers have buying seasons? Does the site need to be altered for each season? What will you do to entice shoppers in the off seasons?
11. Do you have a brick and mortar or other off-web location or contact point (like a mail order catalog)? How do you see the web site and off-line business working together? How will you integrate the web site into the business on a daily basis?
12. Who are your competitors? List some of your competitors web site URLs.
13. What do you like and dislike about your competitors websites?
14. What makes you better than your competition? Why should someone use your site or purchase from you instead of them? What unique content do you provide that other sites do not? How can you add value to your products and services? (free bonuses, lifetime warranty, free shipping and handling, free upgrades, etc.)
15. If you do not already have a domain name, be sure to choose one with your most important keyword in the URL. Your domain name should be easily identifiable and easy to explain over the phone and print on a business card. Please read my blog on domain name domination.
16. Have you thought of a slogan or catch phrase for your business?
17. Do you have a Logo? This is important for branding purposes. Do you have company colors? Your company logo and colors as well as the website URL and your slogan should be used on every bit of information relating to your company.
18. A well laid out site has no more than 6 to 8 topic links to interior pages on the main page. The following are typical pages and included information. Cross off anything you feel does not fit your vision of your site.
- Home Page – do you want a splash page?
- Products and/or Services. Links on this page might be:
- Product Description/specifications / demos/samples
- Order Form
- Testimonials/ Galleries or reviews
- Shipping Information
- Purchasing/ Shopping Cart/Dealer List
- Product features & benefits. Tips and Tricks
- Parts list, schematics, assembly instructions
- Warranty & Return Policy
- Informational Pages
- Guest Book
- About Us/Contact Us
- Free stuff – screen savers, wallpaper, contests, polls. referral form (Giving your visitor a reason to return.)
- News and Events or other regional information
- Glossary of terms or Interesting Facts
- Customer Service
- Book Store
19. How can your visitor contact you? How to you plan to encourage feedback? Do you want to use a survey form to gather information from your customers or visitors? If so what questions would you like to ask and can you offer something in return for filling out the form (a free report, discount, etc.)?
20. Do you have an existing web site? What do you like or dislike about it?
21. List any related web sites that provide services or information useful to your target audience. Reciprocal links with these sites will be beneficial to both your customers and your ranking in the search engine.
22. Do you need domain registration and/or an ISP to host the site? What level of hosting will be required? What is your budget for the completion of the web site and yearly maintenance? If you do not already have a domain name, be sure to choose one with your most important keyword in the URL. Click here to see if the name has been taken. Your domain name should be easily identifiable and easy to explain over the phone and print on a business card.
23. Do you have any custom graphic needs or will you be able to supply all of the images required?
24. What types of components other than still photos and text do you want to include (e-commerce, affiliate programs, virtual reality images, java applets, backend database integration, survey forms, feedback forms, opt-in newsletter management, referral forms, etc.)? What type of opt-in mail gathering do you want to use?
25. What type of security is required for the web site? Will there be sensitive files that need to be protected? Do you need a password protected area for dealers, members and/or downloads? Do you need any digital delivery systems to individually password protect each customers download?
26. Please list and gather any existing materials and information that will help design your site. Here are some examples. Feel free to add any special needs or components required that are not listed.
- Photos in digital format
- Business cards
- Product shots
- Product samples
- Press releases
- Price and part lists
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Shipping and handling charges and constraints
- Warranty policy
- Return policy
- Testimonials and/or endorsements
- Senior Staff Bios
- Case studies
- Photos of yourself, staff and location
- Transcripts of interviews
- Industry recognition
By now, you should have a clear picture of your website and your customers in mind.
Next we need to identify and develop the keywords to use in your content to best position your web site in the search engines.
Call me at 713-553-6212 to get started!