So you want a website. And not just any DIY site, but you’re ready to hire a professional to build a full website. Congratulations! We’re pumped that your business, organization, or wooden birdhouse building hobby wants to take audience engagement to the next level.
Getting outside help with your website is one of the smartest decisions you can make – that’s why who you choose for a web design partner (like Full Windsor) matters. You want to be as prepared as possible for this process. That way, you’ll get quality proposals that speak to your organizational requirements to inform this important decision.
Before you start a full website build, your team should ask yourselves some vital questions (thanks to Dan Mall for the inspo) and share the answers with your potential vendors. For Part One of this series, we’re going to look at 10 General and Strategy questions. Part Two covers Content and Features.
10 General + Strategy Questions to Prepare for a Full Site Build
1. What prompted this project? Was it a turning point event, key lesson learned, desire to resolve a pain point, etc.?
Giving context helps uncover what you've already tried that isn't working, who the relevant stakeholders are, desired goals, and useful strengths or weaknesses.
2. What will be different for our organization when this project is complete? How do we define success for this project?
Lean deep into your organizational goals here. Beyond having the deliverable of a new website, discuss what change you expect or hope the site to make. This might be tangible things like more sales and contracts, or intangible things like better brand recognition and perception.
3. Who are our audiences and what do we anticipate each of them will want with our website?
People are goal-driven and want “something” when online, even if it's subconscious. Define one to three end results each audience seeks when they visit. Identify what their initial motivation is and what new goals/desires might come up for them after spending time on your site.
4. What’s our ideal timeframe? Does a certain event depend on this project launching, or are there other market factors?
So much will depend on what's feasible for your vendor/agency, but being up front and about the ideal timeline (and motivators behind it) is a good move.
5. Have we already started on any part of the project (e.g. some rough designs or ideas for the site)?
Any pre-work completed will help speak volumes on what you want (or what isn't working). If you’ve made a list (mental or actual) of brands you think are doing well in your industry and/or with your audience, share this too. It's helpful to see which established brands you want to emulate or which feel familiar.
6. How large is our team for this project? Who will be contributing ideas and content to the project?
Defining key stakeholders ahead of time helps guard against scope creep AND gives vendors an idea of what working with you will be like (e.g. will they have capacity to work with your 10-person website committee?).
7. What's our budget?
Have some rough internal budget parameters while understanding what’s realistic for your unique goals. Do some research on the main factors that contribute to website build costs and decide as a team what your “must haves” are. It’s also a good idea to ask vendors if they have a baseline required budget.
8. How frequently do we anticipate making updates to our website?
How often a website manager needs to make changes can inform how a vendor builds your website backend and how user-friendly it needs to be (or which areas need to be very easy to change) – all of which play into time and cost.
9. Who will be involved in the decision to select a vendor for this project?
Again, transparency early sets up your project for success in the long run. This question helps get the right people in the room from the start so your project doesn't get hijacked or delayed because a decision maker wasn’t included in this early phase.
10. How is our organization doing in each of these related areas?
SEO, Social Media, Brand Strategy/Messaging, Brand Identity, Email Marketing, Analytics / Conversion Optimization, Graphic Design, CRM, Ongoing Content Production, Advertising
Since a website is a piece of the bigger marketing puzzle, doing a quick evaluation of these other areas can help ensure long-term success. A website redesign can’t fix all your problems, so it’s helpful to identify your areas for improvement and which ones to associate into the build.
An exceptional website and a better project experience starts with asking the right questions. We’re here to guide you every step of the way.