Information You Need To Complete a Website Design Questionnaire
Before you complete a website design questionnaire, make sure you have this information!
When you approach a reputable web design agency about a new project, they will likely start the proposal process by asking you to fill out a website design questionnaire or new project questionnaire.Agencies or web designers/developers who do quality work don't just pull prices out of a hat. Click To Tweet
Every project is planned out after careful consideration of project scope, including: your timeline, your goals, competitor/industry research, and determination of necessary features to meet those goals.
The questionnaire you will need to fill out, and any phone conversations or in-person meetings leading up to a proposal will require you to think about and answer a lot of very detailed questions. Taking the time to carefully consider these questions and provide detailed answers to your prospective web designer or online marketing agency is crucial to ensuring that the final product – your new or improved website – meets your business’ goals and will truly help to take your business to the next level.
This blog post is designed to help you, the end-user of those multi-page questionnaires. Keep reading to learn more about why we ask the questions we ask, what we’re searching for in a completed web design questionnaire, the common red flags that may cause an agency to table your inquiry, and how to frame your answers to target the best end results for your business.
Website Design Questionnaire Basics: Business Name & Planned Web Address
Most questionnaires you encounter will start with simple information, such as business name, physical address, contact information, and the planned web address of your new website.
If You Don’t Already Have A Website…
One thing that we do before we even respond to a new questionnaire, is to check the availability of the client’s desired web address. If the web address is unavailable, we may advise the client of this during the initial call and offer several alternative web address ideas. For new businesses who do not already have a website, knowing if they have already purchased a domain or not helps us to understand where they are in the business startup process.
If You Already Have A Website…
If the client already owns their desired web address, we’ll go check out their existing website (if there is one) before calling them.
When looking at a client’s existing website, we look for the issues they may be experiencing, such as slow load times, lack of mobile responsiveness, poor user experience, or outdated visuals. We also look to see what platform the website is on (e.g. WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, Joomla, non-CMS HTML/PHP, etc.). Doing this gives us a lot of early insight into what solutions you may be looking for both pre- and post-launch, and will help us to better understand any pain points you may have communicated with us in the questionnaire.
In addition to looking at an existing website, we’ll do a quick search for your business name on social media. Are you on Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? How big is your audience? How often do you post? What are you posting about? What are people saying about your posts and your business? This will give us more insight into what your overall online marketing strategy is, and if we might want to also recommend social media or online marketing support services. These days, as social media presence is key to connecting with prospective clients, it is vital to include social media into any new website marketing plan or strategy.
Know Your Company Profile & Products/Services
When filling a website design questionnaire, it is important to give the agency you would like to hire as much information as you can about your business. This is your opportunity to help a web designer really get to know your business, what your products and services are, and what may differentiate you from the competition. Although we can always get more information later on in discovery sessions and project meetings, the quality of the answers provided here often directly correlates with the quality of the end result. Nobody knows your business better than you.
|RED FLAG: If this section comes back with one-sentence or two-sentence answers that show minimal detail or effort, a web design agency may assume that either: (a) the person filling the form does not take the process seriously and may therefore not take the project seriously or (b) The person filling the form has not taken the time to think critically about their business and create a detailed map to their success.|
If you are looking to hire a web designer, it is important that you have a solid understanding of your business, the brand identity you’re targeting, the products/services that you offer, and who your customers are. If you don’t know these things yet, the website you end up with may not be representative of your brand or it may not speak to your target demographic. If you are not sure of these things, the agency you are looking at may be able to help with some aspects of branding or customer identification, but most marketing agencies will not be able to help with the creation of a business mission, strategic plan, or products/services.
If you are still in the startup stages without a clearly defined business plan, we recommend putting a new website on hold and first solidifying these details about your business. In many cities, you can get free support from the Small Business Development Center (SBDC). If you are in Fort Collins, Colorado, Loveland, or Estes Park, the Larimer County SBDC can be found here. If you’re in another part of the country, visit sba.gov to find an SBDC near you.
Determining Decision Makers
The phrase “too many cooks in the kitchen” will sound familiar to most of us. When there are too many individuals making decisions on a single project, the project may suffer two different afflictions:
- “Scope Creep” – Continuous addition of new features and content beyond original project scope, often resulting in delays and additional fees.
- Decision Paralysis – The more decision makers there are, the more likely there are to be delays due to illness, vacation(s), business trips, internal disagreements, etc.
The business owner or marketing director (if they do not want to be directly involved) should select one to two key people in their business to take charge of making decisions on the project. In our experience, any number higher than two is a crowd. Of those decision-makers, it is important to identify one point person to be the primary point of contact for your web designer. When changes need to be made, make sure to discuss them internally first before notifying the web designer or developer – nothing holds up a project more than two people from a business sending emails to the project manager with opposite requests.
Most online marketing agencies will ask that you identify the key decision-makers early in the process so that they can ensure those decision-makers are involved in the pre-proposal discussions and proposal writing process. If a key decision-maker is not involved from the beginning, their vision cannot be heard and adequately included in the website.
Project Timeline & Investment Tips
This section of a questionnaire can be the most challenging for a number of reasons. A lot of clients will struggle with trying to provide answers that they think the developer will want to hear. In our experience, this can result in disappointment on all sides. The best policy is to be honest with your web designer and with yourself.
How To Determine Your Website Project Timeline
Set a specific date when you must launch your website and set your timeline two weeks earlier. This will give you some flexibility in the event that there are delays to the project. If your timeline is short and you need some things fast, make sure to mention it upfront as this will significantly impact how and if an agency will be able to work with you. Many quality agencies are booked sometimes months in advance, so you may have to spend some time asking around if you need a new website next week. Likewise, if you are not in a rush, let the agency know that as well, especially if you expect longer delays in response time.
How To Determine Your Website Budget
Budget can be a tricky or uncomfortable subject, but one that can’t be avoided. Reputable agencies are unlikely to present you with a proposal without a clear understanding of your website budget or budget range. Your budget will determine the services that they present to you and the solutions they offer to help you achieve your goals, or even if they think your goals can be achieved. Nobody wants to be presented with a Toyota Corolla project proposal when they have a Cadillac budget – or vice versa – and on the agency end, most agencies don’t want to spend several hours writing a proposal if they don’t think they can give your business the best return on investment.
To establish your budget, think carefully about your goals, determine what your absolute highest spending limit is and subtract 10% – 15%. This will give you some flexibility in the event that the scope of the project changes unexpectedly.
|RED FLAG: When it comes to timeline and budget common sense applies — Asking a digital agency to craft a 50-page custom website in one week with a budget of $500 will likely result in your inquiry being tabled. There is a saying, “Websites can be built good, fast, and cheap – you can’t have all three.”|
Need more guidance? Our friend, Bill Erickson, has a great post about how long it takes to build a website. There are also quite a few articles on the web about the cost of a website; here are a couple that we recommend:
- How Much Should a Custom WordPress Website Cost? (PostStatus)
- How Much Does a Website Cost (WP Site Care)
As these articles highlight, there is a wide range in cost depending upon the features that you need, your long-term goals for your website, and who you work with. While many agencies will not respond to a request for a price with no other information (I.e. “How much does it cost to have you build a website?”), most will let you know what their current project minimum is, so that may be a good place to start if you are unsure if any particular agency is the right fit for you.
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What Are Your Goals & Why Do You Need A New Website?
The most important aspects of any website design questionnaire are the questions that center around your website goals and what you want to get out of a website. Our website project questionnaire, for example, includes the following questions:
- What are your top five goals for your new website?
- Is there anything about your current website that serves your business well and if so, how?
- What is NOT working about your current website and why?
- What are the top 5 reasons your ideal customer will visit your website?
- How do you want people to feel when they interact with your brand?
Just like with your company profile and products/services, nobody knows your business better than you. Be as open and transparent about your goals as possible. Are you planning on selling the business in five years? That may change how we structure your project. Are you trying to increase online orders or double your email signup list? The more detail and transparency you can offer your web designer in a web design questionnaire, the better your end results will be. Reputable web design agencies will keep the contents of your inquiry confidential and can help with your goals in ways that might surprise you.
Also, S.M.A.R.T. Goals are your best friend. SMART goals are goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Having SMART goals for your new website will help you and the agency you hire to determine success after the new website is launched. We don't have to tell you that if you invest your time, energy, and resources into building a website, you need some way of determining if it was worth it.
Design Concepts and "Inspiration" Sites
The most effective way to showcase what you want your new website to look like is to identify several inspirational websites to share in the website design questionnaire. When sharing these websites with us, tell us in detail what you like about them. Do you like their navigation bar? The way they utilize pictures, icons, or images? An animated or active element of the design? The color scheme? The more you can tell us, the more we can use that to craft a design you will love.
|RED FLAG: If you haven't taken the time to look at other websites, especially those of your competitors, to determine some basic likes and dislikes, some designers may consider that to be a sign that you are not thinking seriously about the website project.|
When thinking about the design of your website, it is important to also think about your customers. Will their preferences for color, layout, and navigation style match your own? For some business owners and project decision-makers, it can be difficult to balance personal taste with the preferences of your target audience. This is a challenge that website designers and developers relish. If you aren't sure what will work for your target audience, that's okay! Your web designer will include a discovery phase in your project proposal to help flesh those things out.
The Bottom Line: What does success mean to you?
Most web design questionnaires will give you the opportunity to provide a synopsis or summary. This is often the best place to emphasize your most important project goal. This helps your web designer prioritize where they will divert time and resources once the project is underway. You can also include any additional important details about your project in this section.
We understand that filling out a website design questionnaire can be a lot of work, especially if you have not yet thought about much beyond "I need a new website." Taking the time to truly think about your business' goals and identity, and what you want your website to do for your business will ensure that your investment is not be wasted.A website design questionnaire is the foundation upon which a great online presence is built. Click To Tweet
Building a new website is a collaborative process, from the proposal to after the website launch. The more information you can provide an agency from day one, the faster that process will move along and the better the end product will be.
Are you ready to start your project? Fill out our website project inquiry form here.