Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What to ask a client before you start creating their website?

Recently, I was asked by a friend of mine to create a website for a local travel agency. It's certainly not the hardest thing to do, but I decided to make something differently this time.

Before starting implementing anything I asked my potential customer the following four questions:

  • Why have you decided to create a website?
  • What problems should it solve?
  • Who are the potential visitors of the website?
  • What is unique about your website?
Each question was asked with some intent. Now, I will try to explain it.

Why have you decided to create a website?

All decisions we make are emotional in nature. Especially decision about buying something. The rationalization comes only after we've made it on emotional level. The strongest commitment one can make about a decision is to find a logical reason to make it.
The most important thing you need to figure out before starting anything is what caused your potential client to buy a website. If you find it, then you can easily assess the strength of commitment the person have made and how far they are going to go with it. You don't want a client that calls you next morning to cancel a project because they are no longer sure if it's a good idea. Ain't you?

What problems should it solve?

Website without a clear set of problems to solve is doomed to join the endless army of zombies that nobody wants to meet with. Also, without problems to solve you have no goals to achieve and no way to measure how far your solution is from the ideal one the customer has dreamt about. If so, why don't you ask about them beforehand to ensure that there are some?

Who are the potential visitors of the website?

Every website intended to have some audience, otherwise it's just a useless and strange way to spend time and money. To attract the audience you need to understand it. Ideally, you should be a part of it. How could you make any design decision without knowing who and how will judge them?

What is unique about your website?

There are literally thousands of travel agencies around the world. Good part of them have websites. In such market conditions it is vital for a website to have some unique content, otherwise it can't get to first few pages of search results and might equally not exist at all. There is no point in spending money and time on a website that nobody will ever find.

If you found this list useful and are interested in improving it, please don't hesitate to criticize it heartlessly!