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Questions to Ask when Designing a Website for clients

By Brent Parker
Posted Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Questions to ask when designing a Web Site for your client (s).
“Excerpt from the book: Graphic Artists Guild, Handbook Pricing & Ethical guidelines Written by: Brent Parker

These questions are a great tool to use when trying to develop your clients website. It gets down to the roots of web design, so there is a clear and precise understanding of what needs to be done. You can either make yourself a check list on paper for face to face talks or you can put it into Adobe PDF form, and have them download it from your website and fill it out later. It may seem odd at first, but in the long run it works out perfectly.

What is the client’s business and how will the client’s Web site advance it? What message is the Web site supposed to convey?
Who is the primary audience for the Web site? The primary age group of the audience? Their professions, disciplines, and interests? (Designers should warn clients that if the target is a broad-based, international audience, with potentially slow modems, old browsers, or expensive service, this might limit the design options.)
What are the secondary goals of the Web site? Is this an informational site or an avenue for internet-based marketing or revenue?
What subjects, in order of priority, does the client want to cover on the Web site? Have the client define at least five separate area of subject matter and state what’s unique about their business.

Does the client understand the difference between the Web and an online email service such as America Online? The answer to this question is an indicator of the clients overall Web knowledge. If the client does not understand the difference, the designer may want to factor in time for basic Internet education
Does the client require a Web hosting account and/or dial up access? How many users? What user privileges would the client like?
Is the account only for email or does the price quoted allow for server space to host a Web site? How many megabytes of server space?
If the client already has an Internet account, is it with a true ISP or with an online service such as America Online? If the account is with an online service rather than a true ISP, extra costs or special arrangements may be needed to host the Web site.

Who will give final approval of the project? If someone other than the clients’ team will have final approval, then the designer needs to make sure that person has Internet access and understands the Web.
What domain name would the client like? (.com, org. net etc…) What are two to three alternative domain names in case the first choice is already taken/
Are the client’s source materials in electronic form, and if so, does the designer need to handle file conversions? The designer may need to educate the client about how to submit materials in as consistent and compatible formats as possible. If necessary, the designer should provide the client with a variety of options and be prepared to do conversion’s
Does the site required advanced functionality, such as database functionality (Access, Filemaker Pro, Microsoft SQL, Oracle Server)? Does the site need to be coded in a special language such as Microsoft ASP or Allaires Cold Fusion?
Are there requirements for e-commerce, such as the ability to process credit card transactions, development of Shopping Cart strategies, survey forms, advanced configurator sales selectors, online games and interactive demonstrations, online chat and message boards?
Is the site to be hosted in-house or with another provider? If in-house, the clients information services department should be included in the planned meetings.

Is the website to be designed from scratch, or is it a makeover of an existing site? If a makeover, does the client want any additions?
What look and feel would the client like for he Web site? The client should show the designer examples of Web sites, magazines, publications, or artistic works they like. Does the client have a specific genre, culture, or style in mind?
Are there any collateral marketing materials (brochures, publications, corporate identity programs, or posters), preproduction sketches, or media (CD-ROM’s, video games, records, or tapes) that the Web site should be consistent with?
Does the client desire graphics interactivity and/or multimedia (also involving content development and site mapping)? These typically include JavaScript rollovers and effects, animated GIF’s QuickTime or AVI movies, sound files, PDF downloads, Macromedia Flash animations, and interactivity.
Does the client need a new logo or new collateral marketing materials and media to be consistent with the new Web site? If so, these design services should be quoted in addition to and not as part of the Web site proposal.
Does the designer wish to negotiate a credit link that targets his or her home URL or email?

Does the client have the staff to respond to email? If not, the designer may need to explain that the client may develop a bad reputation in the online world if people don’t receive immediate responses.
Does the client plan to have in-house site maintenance, or does the client want the designer to do it? Designers considering site maintenance arrangements should look carefully at the ability of their own organization to do at least biweekly of monthly changes

About The Author
Brent Parker is the creator and Webmaster of Spry Web Solutions is based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. We specialize in web design, corporate identity, business documents and other great design tools. If you are a business start-up or thinking about starting one, we have a Corporate Identity pkg complete with 10-12 pg Website, 1000 Business cards, Letterheads and Envelopes all custom for one great “low” price.
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