When kicking off a new website project, you need a process.
And whether you’re a web designer working with a client, or a project manager tasked with delivering a new website for your company, an initial website design questionnaire can help get you started with that process.
In this article I’m going to walk you through some questions to ask your client or internal stakeholders to help take the stress out of scoping and delivering a great website.
What can a website questionnaire tell you?
Simply put: questionnaires give you knowledge. They cut through your assumptions and help you get to the heart of your project requirements. Even a simple website questionnaire, consisting of very few questions, can deliver massive insights into what your stakeholders actually need.
Look at it this way: you can sit down and write out everything you think a website needs to achieve based upon your own assumptions, or you could ask people what they want.
Which approach do you think would yield the most effective outcome?
In every new website project I take on, I begin by asking a set of questions to build a picture of the overall project.
17 Questions to Ask Your Web Design Client
Discover the questions that I personally ask my clients to understand their needs and deliver a better service with less stress.
What questions to ask when building a website
Web design questionnaires are generally used for requirement gathering purposes. They help to determine what functionality the website will feature, who its core audience will be and how the website might fit into the wider business strategy.
A website development questionnaire has a lot of work to do, but can provide immense value. Here are a few questions that I include on my initial website design questionnaire:
- What are your top motivators for producing a new website?
- What are the biggest problems with your current website?
- What value will the new website add to your company and stakeholders?
- Describe your typical visitor and outline their goals
- What are your must-have requirements for the new website?
- List any competing or partner companies, as well as any sites you particularly like or dislike
- List any other online properties you own (Twitter, YouTube etc)
These points form the basis of my requirement gathering questionnaire for web development projects. It gives me both a top-down view of what the client is looking to achieve by asking about their motivations and audience, and it uncovers some necessary detail by asking about “must-have” requirements.
What’s the best way to ask website project questions?
There are two approaches and each will bring their own pros and cons.
The “hands-off” method
Firstly, you can ask your client or stakeholders to complete the questions in their own time. There are a number of mechanisms you can use to achieve this, such as Typeform or Google Forms, or you can even email a Word doc if your participants aren’t hugely tech-savvy. The benefits of this approach are:
- There’s no limit to how many people you can ask
- Participants can spend as much time as they wish giving detailed answers, or return to update them later on
- Participants will usually complete the questionnaire alone, and are less likely to be influenced by colleagues.
This is what I call a hands-off approach to gathering requirements for my web development projects. My preferred approach is to wrap this process in conversation.
The guided method
Once the web development contract has been signed and the project get started, one of the first meetings I arrange with key stakeholders is a website kick-off meeting.
And this is when I take the opportunity to run through these questions. Often, I’ll send the questions ahead of the meeting so that the client has some time to prepare, but the session itself is where we seek to answer our questionnaire. The benefits of this approach are:
- I ask the questions, and therefore can help keep the participants on track
- As the group are discussing and answering together, a consensus can emerge
- I capture the detail in a clear and consistent format to be used later in project scoping.
So what’s the best way to collect answers to your website questionnaire? It depends.
In most cases, the guided method works best for me. But if you have lots of participants, and getting them together for one meeting is challenging, the hands-off method might work best.
Website project questionnaire template
Always. Ask. Questions.
Whatever shape your project takes, and whatever process you generally follow, make sure you take the time to truly interrogate your client. Find out what their pain points are. Uncover their goals.
Website questionnaires are a part of this, but they don’t tell the complete story alone. To truly deliver for your clients and add value where it matters, you need to wrap your questions in guided conversations and work up the responses into tangible solutions.
Keep asking questions throughout the process and don’t be afraid to revisit past answers. By working confidently as a partner with your web design clients, you’ll garner more respect from stakeholders and deliver much improve end products.