Like anything in life, careful planning of your website (whether it’s a redesign or starting from scratch) will pay dividends in the long run. Taking your time to think about exactly what you need your website to do for your business and how it needs to function for both you and your customers is a vital first step. After all, if you don’t know what you want out of your website, whoever builds it is going to be scratching their head too. This is why creating a tight brief for your web developer is equally as important and will ensure that your new website is fully thought out, eliminating the potential for errors during and after development. With that in mind, here are a number of questions that will help you to shape an exceptional website brief for your developer.
The Grand Plan
Before even contemplating a website, you need to be clear on your overall business objective. Having clarity on this will ensure your business goals and your website are in alignment. Some questions to consider:
- Where is your business currently?
- How is your business perceived in the marketplace?
- What is your company’s value proposition and how does it demonstrate this?
- What are your product/service benefits and why should they be used?
- What is your biggest hurdle or obstacle that is preventing success?
Analysing your target demographic is an important step when creating or overhauling a website and it is vital for any online marketing that you would like to undertake. It’s important to know what type of customers and visitors you want to attract to your site. This will enable you to market your site appropriately and provide relevant content and information to your visitors. It’s also important to know the difference between your target demographic and the demographic that your site is currently attracting as there may be differences between the two. We wrote an article on 5 questions to help identify your website’s target demographic to assist businesses in answering the questions in your website brief below.
- What is your target demographic?
- Who is your current website audience?
- What is the most important take away that you want your audience to experience?
Goals and objectives:
Every business has goals and objectives — it’s what defines its growth. A website is no different and should have it’s own set of goals and objectives to strive towards. Your website’s goals help to determine its success and the objectives are the stepping stones to get there. Remember that when setting goals and objectives, they should be specific, attainable and measured within a specific timeframe to work effectively. The following questions should be answered in your website brief to help identify your website’s goals and objectives:
- What should your website achieve?
- What information do you want to capture from your audience?
- What do you want visitors to do with your website information?
- Do you want customers to call you or email you?
- What are your main call to action statements?
- Where do you see your business and website in 5 years time?
Your existing website:
If you already have an existing website and are looking to upgrade it, the following questions are useful to consider. Whilst you may hate the look and feel of your current site, there may be aspects that would be beneficial to keep in a new website. In other words, creating a new website is not always about reinventing the wheel. That said, it’s vital to identify the bad aspects of your existing website so that they are not mistakenly included in your new site. Sorting out the good and the bad aspects with the questions below will help create a better finished product and one that will perform better for your business.
- What is good about your current site?
- What is bad about your current site?
- How much traffic does your current website get?
- How many conversions does your current website generate?
When writing your website brief, you should also take the time to look at your competition for both inspiration and examples of what not to do. Keeping a close eye on your competition is a good business practice. You may find aspects of their sites that you love and aspects that you completely hate. Communicating these with your web developer at the start of the project is important and will strengthen the finished product. Questions to consider are:
- What have you noticed your competitors doing?
- Are there any competitor websites that you like or dislike? Provide some examples.
- Is there any functionality on competitor websites that you would like to replicate?
Sometimes forgotten until the site is ready for launch, your web developer will love having the answers to these questions before any development begins! If you don’t have a domain name or website hosting sorted, your web developer should be able to assist in setting that up for you. If any third party integrations are required, having the specifications of these integrations outlined will allow the developer to raise any potential issues before work is initiated. Having the below information ready will speed up the overall project development time so that your website can launch without any delays.
- Is your desired domain name registered?
- Do you have website hosting?
- Do you have email hosting?
- Who will be accessing the backend of the website?
- Does the website need to integrate with any third party systems?
eCommerce works wonders for online businesses but can often be a nightmare to deal with if not properly planned. If you run, or are planning on running any online eCommerce on your website, your developer will want to know the following:
- How many products do you have?
- Do you have high quality product imagery ready?
- What does your product information look like?
- What payment methods do you accept?
- What are your shipping costs?
When planning for a new website, the project itself is an area that has a few questions which should be addressed. Your developer will want to know who they will be working with, where the content will be coming from and an estimated preferred timeframe for the completion of the project. When sourcing content for your website, if you feel like this will be a challenge then ask your developer if they can assist. Here at CSQD we have a dedicated content copywriter to assist with web content generation. Additionally, giving your developer an ideal launch date sets clear expectations for the project completion timeframe and it allows the developer to schedule your work in with other work that they may be undertaking at the same time.
- Who will be overseeing the project completion?
- Who will be sourcing the content for the website?
- Do you have a specific launch date for your new site in mind?
Last of all, your web developer will need to know if you have a budget and, if so, what your budget is. Often a lot of clients are reluctant to discuss budget as early as the briefing stage but being open and honest from the get go is often the better approach. Being open about a budget allows you as the client to set clear financial expectations immediately and it won’t waste anyone's time if it is not suited to the developer. In return, a clear budget will allow the developer to provide a more accurate price quote in response.
- What is your full project budget?
- Have you allocated any budget towards marketing and lead generation / SEO?
Your web developer is there to help you create the best website for your business. Briefs such as “Just make our site look great” only serve to harm your project as so many questions remain unanswered. When it is your turn to write a website brief, use our questions above as a guide to strengthen your brief and to help create the best site possible to take your business and website to the next level.