Thinking of developing a new website? Need to redesign an old one? The best way to ensure a smooth, stress free design process, is to make sure that you ask yourself these ten questions before you start.
I find that, whenever I receive queries regarding website design, there is one question that I am almost always asked: “what do you need from me?”.
My reply typically takes the form of a short list of questions. (The answers will help me to create my client’s shiny new website.)
As (at the time of writing this blog) I have done this twice today already, I thought I would write a post on the subject.
I am thinking (and hoping) that this will be of value to you if you are considering hiring someone to create your new site or if you are about to develop a website by yourself.
To start, I will run through the ten questions that you should ask when designing a website and then I will look at each of the questions in more detail.
Website Design: Key Questions
What Type Of Website Do You Want To Create?
What Websites Do You Love / Hate
Do You Have Any Brand Colours
Are There Any Fonts That You Want To Use?
Would You Prefer A Widescreen Or A Narrower Website With A Sidebar?
How Many Pages Do You Want To Create?
Do You Have Images For This Website?
Do You Have Content Ready For Your Website?
Do You Need Any CTA Buttons?
- Would You Like Any Widgets / Online Tools Added To Your Website?
#1 What Type Of Website Do You Want To Create?
The first question I ask is concerns what the website needs to achieve once it is designed and developed, For example, does it need to be:
a personal / CV style site
a portfolio site (great for photographers)
an online shopping site
a blogging site
a fun, informal site
a formal, corporate site
- an event marketing site
Once I know what my client wants, I can start to visualise potential website layouts.
In addition, this question is crucial in terms of search engine optimisation (SEO) as it will help me to understand the audience that my client needs to attract. I can then start to research the keywords and phrases that will need to be included in the website’s content.
#2 What Websites Do You Love/Hate?
I always ask my clients to tell me what websites they really like.
Once they have sent me the URLs of websites that they admire, I can almost find my way into their imagination and start to understand the type of website that they want me to design.
My clients will often send me a list of URLs and explain that they like different parts of a range of websites. I can then incorporate these design elements into their own website.
Meanwhile, I also ask my clients if there are any websites that they don’t like. I then make a list of the design features and layouts to avoid.
#3 Would You Prefer A Widescreen Website Or A Narrow One With A Sidebar?
If this issue has not been addressed in the first two questions, I will always ask if my client prefers a widescreen layout (such as the one I have used on www.picpresents.com) or a narrower layout with a sidebar (such as the one on www.jdjcompliance.com).
#4 Do You Have Any Brand Colours?
By this stage, I will have an idea of some potential layouts. I now need to consider my colours. As a result, I ask my clients if they have any particular colour scheme in mind.
Sometimes, I get a list of the exact colours that I need to use. Sometimes, I am asked to pick colours from a logo. Often, I am given a basic colour palette to work from (blues, greens, reds etc). On occasion, I am given free reign to develop a fresh colour palettent.
Whatever the case, I usually select two striking, yet complementary colours and one colour that will stand out on screen for Call To Action (CTA) text and buttons etc.
If you need to create a colour palate for your business, I would recommend that you look at www.colourlovers.com for inspiration.
#5 Are There Any Fonts That You Want To Use?
As with my colours, I tend to choose three fonts to use in my website design. I need a font for my headers, a font for my body text and a font for my images and CTA buttons.
If you need font inspiration, try dafont.com. Meanwhile, Google Chrome’s WhatFont tool will help you to identify the fonts that you like online.
What Pages Do You Want To Create?
Effective navigation is crucial for any website. If your visitor cannot find what they are looking for they will likely click away.
It is a good idea to draw a map to illustrate the navigation paths that you want your visitor to take. For example, having landed on your homepage where do you want your visitor to go?
Once you have created your website’s ideal navigation, you will need to choose which pages to feature in your navigation bar. This is the list of webpages that appears at the top or to the side of your website.
The key is to keep your navigation bar simple. You don’t want to overwhelm your visitors.
Then, make it easy for your visitors to click to find more information by adding links to other pages, buttons or drop down menus.
#7 Do You Have Images For This Website?
At this stage, I will ask if my client has any photographs and images for the new website.
I don’t necessarily need those images right away but I do need to know if more images need to be designed or sourced.
#8 Do You Have Content Ready For This Website?
As with the images, I do not need the content for each web page at the start of the development project. However, if my client intends to create the text for these pages, I do encourage them to make a start on this sooner rather than later.
You really don’t want to leave this to the end as it is one of the most time consuming tasks.
#9 Have You Considered your Call To Action?
When potential clients land on your website you want them to:
Find out more about your business and what you offer
Encourage them to take action by, perhaps, subscribing to your email newsletter, buying your product or signing up for your
As a result, your website needs stand-out CTA buttons, text and images to drive your visitor to take action.
#10 Do You Need Any Widgets/Online Tools?
For example, there are a range of online tools that can add the following to your website:
Social media engagement and sharing
Online forms and surveys
Videos and audio
Customer service via live chat
Visitor engagement via commenting systems
Analytics to see who is visiting your website and what pages are proving more popular
Event marketing, registration and ticket purchasing
Online calendars and booking
Website search engines
Login capability or password protection
- Content translation
You may have noticed that I do not ask my clients if they would like a design that is compatible with mobile devices. This is because all of my designs (and all of yours should be too) are mobile ready.
This is more important than ever following Google’s new rules which penalise any website that isn’t fit for mobile consumption.
Thank you for reading! I hope that you have found this post useful.
Can you think of any other important web design questions? Let’s discuss them in the comments section below!
Take care, Jane x