I couldn’t believe what I was hearing after I spent weeks building my client’s website.
“Uh, I don’t really like it. Can you rebuild it?” the client told me over the phone.
My heart sunk as I struggled not to drop the phone.
I realized at that moment that I didn’t even consult the client on what they wanted the site to look like, I just went with what I thought it should look like.
I begrudgingly agreed to rebuild the site and made a simple promise to myself from that point on:
I will always send my clients a list of questions so I can get a better feel for what they want their website to look like.
Since I made myself this promise, I have yet to run into problems like the aforementioned debacle.
Here are a few of the most important questions I always ask my clients before building them a website.
What is the Tone of Your Brand?
As a web designer, it’s important to get a feel for your client’s brand.
Understanding their tone will help determine the writing style on the site as well as the overall design.
If your client describes the tone of their brand as fun, warm, inviting, etc., then you’ll want to have content written on the site that isn’t overly serious and invites people to learn more about their brand.
The overall design of the site should also feel warm, inviting, and fun.
If they describe the tone of their brand as more serious, you’ll want to have content and a design scheme that looks and sounds more professional and serious.
Generally, content that is warm and inviting tends to feel more personal while serious content tends to feel more distant.
Also, brighter colors tend to give off that fun and inviting feeling while darker, grayer colors tend to be more serious and professional.
Consult your client on your content and color choices to see if they feel like it fits in line with their brand’s tone.
What Do You Want Users to Accomplish on Your Site?
Whether it be to give people information, have people sign up for a newsletter, or purchase something it’s incredibly important to structure a website so that it allows users to easily perform the desired action.
A great book to read on structuring websites so users can easily perform actions is Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug.
His philosophy is simple: make performing tasks on a website so simple that users don’t have to think about it.
In other words, if you want people to find information make it extremely easy to find on the website by keeping it only one or two clicks away.
Also, if you want people to sign up for something or purchase something, have sign up forms or purchase buttons brightly colored and hard to miss on a page.
I recommend grabbing Steve Krug’s book if you plan on taking web design seriously as it will help you out a lot.
Who Are Some of Your Competitors?
Get a list of your client’s competitors and look at their websites.
Ask your client what they like or dislike about the competitor’s website, and see if there’s anything on the competitor’s website that you could improve on with your client’s website.
For example, maybe the competitor’s website has a menu bar that looks like it’s straight out of the 90’s, you could easily use a WordPress theme that has a menu bar that looks way better than that!
Or perhaps they don’t have an About Us page or a Blog page, you could easily create those for your client making their website much higher in quality.
Spying on competitors is a great way to both get ideas and ensure your client is outperforming them.
What Features Would You Like Your Site to Have?
Maybe your client wants a sexy slider on the homepage showcasing all of their services, or maybe they insist on having an About section on the front page.
Whatever the case may be, it’s always best to ask them if they have a specific design in mind or want specific features on the website.
That way you have a good foundation to build off of making it easier than simply building from scratch.
What I like to do is show my clients 3 different demos WordPress themes that are within their industry, whether it be dentistry, auto repair, etc.
You can find these theme demos at Themeforest.net.
Coming up with a design can be tough without guidance, so always be sure to ask your clients questions like these so you’ll have a much clearer idea of what kind of website they want you to build.
Also, be sure to never go into building a website blind – you should always consult your client before beginning a web design project.