Currently, I’m in the beginning phases of a website redesign for one of my clients and I thought it would be a great case study to blog throughout. It will give me a chance to show my working style, thought process, feats and triumphs along the way. I’m really excited for this project!
To start, I created a formal questionnaire for my client to fill out. I have standard questions I ask my branding or even wedding photography clients in order for me to start the momentum of each unique project, so web design clients need their special questionnaire too. This web design-specific questionnaire process often times helps me jump start my creative thinking for each brand, and move into the next steps in my process, which are brainstorming and mood board creation. More on those phases later.
Within this initial design questionnaire, I like to ask basic brand questions or prompts like “Provide three websites you like, and why you chose each.” “Who is your client?” “What type of content do you plan to use on your homepage” and give check-boxes for things like hero video, photo slideshow, contact form, etc. I also like to ask if the client likes or dislikes current trends. Right now, parallax is all the rage, but it’s not for everyone. Parallax is great for certain businesses or uses, but I don’t like to toe the line for too trendy of site designs. Why? Because a lot of my clients are small businesses who don’t have the time or resources to redesign their site every other year as trends come and go like the wind.
I could go into all of the questions, but my questionnaire is currently 6 pages, so that could take a while. Ultimately, I want to know #1: The business brand – who they are, what they do, and why. #2: Who is the end user of the website, what do they like, what makes them tick? And #3: how does #1 attract and capture #2?
An important aspect of this point of a web design project is providing client education. Not all clients will want to participate in this detailed interview, but in order to effectively do my job, I must “get” the business. Eventually, all of my clients will understand the value of the questionnaire. Many will grunt at the thought of answering these homework questions – especially if they just want a site magically done to perfection and don’t always understand that from point A to point B, there is a lot of detail work to be done. However, I try to educate my clients on the importance of this questionnaire, and really this foundationial element of the web design process where we can sit down and begin to create a road map and vision. And at the end of the day, a business wants to find and hire someone who will be passionate about their design. A website is an investment and shouldn’t be a depreciating asset for a business. It should grow and morph with the business. If you’re redesigning every other year, something isn’t clicking. It’s just like hiring the right employees; think of your website as an employee. You want them around for a long time, so invest in getting the best you can so it will be around for longer, and so they too help your business grow.
As a creative, I don’t typically like being bound to a box (I like thinking outside of it), BUT it’s important to fully understand your clients business, their wants and needs for their website, their over-arching (and minute) business goals, their end user, and of course their brand personality. This questionnaire is much like an interview into the brain of this business. I want to know how it ticks, what its personality is like, and help refine it into a neatly pressed package so the rest of the world can get a great first impression of it.
Stay tuned for the next steps in my web design process!