When I first meet with a prospective client it’s important for me to know about their vision for their site.
Although most people start off saying that they’ll leave everything to the designer (“just do it”), I have learned better. Business owners may want to leave all the technical details to their designer, but most people have an idea about some aspects of their future site.
I am about to call a prospective customer, so I wrote down what I want to ask her before I can tell her cost estimates and a time schedule. Here are some of the questions I have that will help her share her web site vision with me. (I’d be happy to hear of ones you think I should add!)
- Are there sites you would like yours to look like?
These examples can be competitors or sites for businesses in different fields. Please send me links to those sites so I can look at them. Then we can talk about what aspects of those sites you like. Is it the color? Layout? Navigation?
- How important is search engine optimization (where your site will show up in Google)?
Creating a site that shows up high on Google for specific phrases requires planning and it also places some design constraints on the pages. These limitations are reasonable. However, we will keep bumping up against them and I need to know if you care if people find your site in Google and in other search engines.(Search Engine Optimization, that is getting your site high on Google’s results, involves more than designing a web page. Obtaining incoming links, regularly refreshing content, and other marketing techniques build upon a well-design web site. But, designing pages to appeal to Google is the first, most basic, and most important step to take.)
- Do you have a list of pages you want on your site and a structure for the site navigation?
Some people only know that they want a web site for their business. Others know exactly what they want on their site, how many pages there should be, and what the navigation path through the site should be.Please let me know what you’ve already decided on the scope of your site.
- Do you want to be able to updates to your site yourself?
I currently use Dreamweaver to design and maintain most client sites. There’s a sister product of Dreamweaver called Contribute which allows non-technical people to update pages, add pages, change and add images, and to make other changes to sites created in Dreamweaver.In general, clients with Dreamweaver-created sites can purchase Contribute from Adobe and start doing their own updates with little web designer involvement. There is some minor preparation I need to do to make the site Contribute-friendly, and it is good for me to know that Contribute is coming as soon as possible.
- Have you already purchased a domain name and hosting service?
If so, I will need the user name and password for these accounts… For some of my clients obtaining these credentials from past web designers or from their own records has taken weeks of effort.So, if you already have hosting and domain name registrations services, check your records to make sure you can get to the services’ control panels.