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7 Questions to ask when kicking off a Website Project

At the start of a web project, be sure to stop and ask the right questions. Here are some of my favorites:

1. What is the goal of the website?

Why do you want a website? What can it do for your business? What return will it give you?

Do you want it to:

  • sell (generate leads, sell products online, etc)
  • engage (be a place to connect with existing and potential new customers)
  • provide information (to solve a problem, to entertain, etc)
  • add credibility when people search for your business online
  • or perhaps a combination of the above?

Once you’ve figured out what the goal of the website is, everything else should focus on meeting that goal.

2. What are the results from the current website?

Ask how well the current website is meeting ‘the goal’. This will help you decide whether to improve an existing site, or build a completely new website.

If the current site has had Google Analytics tracking code in it, then taking a look at the data from this can help you look at visitor count, popular pages, unpopular pages. If ‘the goal’ is to generate leads from a contact form or to a phone number, be sure to find out as much of this info as you can to. Use these figures as a starting point for baselining performance.

3. Where do visitors come from?

(Tip: not the same place as babies)

There are numerous triggers that could cause a visitor to land on a website that you make. It’s worth considering how they get there, and what they are expecting once they do get there.

How will people find you on search engines? Are they likely to type in your business name? Or would they be searching more for what you do? If you want to rank for specific words in search engines, a valuable exercise would be to undertake some keyword research to figure out what the popular search terms are. Once you know which keywords to target, add pages to your sitemap which specifically target these words or phrases.

4. What do you want visitors to do on your website?

Wait. That question is the wrong way around. It’s about the visitors. What do they want to do on your website?

There, that’s better.

Talk to people in your target market. Ask them what they would want to do on a website like yours. Make the pages in your sitemap reflect what users want to do.

5. What do your competition do on their websites?

Take a look at competitors in the same industry, and similar websites in other industries. Learn from both the good and the bad.

6. To blog or not to blog? That is the question

Blogging, on business websites, is a marketing channel. If you or someone in your team loves to write, then make a content plan, and post on a regular basis. You can even use social media to promote your blog posts as they are published.

If you aren’t sure about being able to keep writing regular posts, then perhaps a blog is not for you. Before settling for a blog, test whether you can deliver content every few weeks. You’ll soon find out if it’s achievable or not.

Most of the time the purpose of a blog is to engage website visitors, as well as to help the business rank higher in search engines.

7. Social Media? The Joneses are doing it. Should I?

The answer is.. Maybe.

Does it fit within your digital strategy? (That’s the plan to work towards your goal in no.1).

If you think it fits, try it out and monitor results. Does it work? Then keep doing it. If it doesn’t give you a hard ($) or soft (exposure) return on investment, then perhaps you shouldn’t waste your time.

Every web company or freelancer will have their own questions that they ask at the start of a website project. Hopefully this list helps you to create or adapt your own.