Any good web developer will insist on understanding as much as possible about how your business works, before progressing to the website design and build stages.
This includes learning about your business processes, customers and competitors.
Allowing time for this project discovery phase ensures your website is properly scoped.
With an accurate scope, your developer won’t be left guessing what you really need. Instead, they’ll be able to build a website you love, on budget and on time.
Poorly scoped projects are one of the main reasons website builds fail to meet expectations.
To scope a web project, your developer needs to thoroughly understand what you need. So they’re likely to miss something important by not asking the right questions at the start.
You could end up with a website that’s more expensive than you thought and you’re unhappy with it.
With a properly defined project, detailing exactly what your developer will deliver, they can minimise the likelihood of misunderstandings, delays and budget overrun.
What questions should my developer ask?
An effective website should at least:
- Accurately represent your brand
- Work for users
- Fulfil your business goals
To meet these requirements, your developer needs to gather a lot of information – this is where the questions come in.
Some questions your developer asks could seem a bit nosey. But they’re simply trying to better understand what you’re after – even if a question’s relevance isn’t obvious at first.
Before any design or build work happens, your developer might ask about:
- The purpose of your website
- Your customers or target audience
- Your business and processes
- Your competitors
- Your content requirements
Once your developer has gathered all the necessary information, they’ll provide you with a project scope. The more information your developer can gather, the better they’ll manage to infuse your business goals into your website and meet the needs of your customers.
Let’s look at each of these areas and why they’re so important in a little more detail:
Purpose of your website
Defining the purpose of your website will help your developer build you a commercially successful website.
Setting SMART goals here can be useful. These are goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.
A SMART goal such as, “increase sales by 20% in 6 months” gives your website purpose, and will inform the structure and design. This ensures your developer isn’t just building something for the sake of it.
If you already have a website, your developer can learn what already is and isn’t working for your business. They can then improve the parts that aren’t working for you while retaining the aspects that are.
Understanding your customers
Your customers are an incredibly important part of the discovery process. After all, it’s your customers you really want to attract to your website.
That’s why most developers will ask you for lots of details about your customers. These might include their age, life goals, personality and where they hang out online. A developer uses this information to build user personas. User personas are representations of the real people who use your website.
By understanding each user persona, a developer can map the route users are likely to take through your website when they carry out specific tasks. These user journeys inform everything from page structure to colour choices to content.
Learning about your business
How does your business work? What’s important to you? What kind of products or services do you offer?
Getting to know your business and its processes is another vital piece of the puzzle for your developer.
This helps your developer understand what you’re trying to encourage your customers to do – both on and off your website.
These details inform areas like design concept, branding, and calls to action.
Researching your competitors
Your developer will want to know who your main competitors are, plus what you do and don’t like about their websites.
This isn’t for the purpose of copying what others have done. Instead, it’s so they can make your website design stand out from the crowd.
Your developer will be looking to make the most of areas your competition is getting right, while seizing opportunities they might have missed.
Your content requirements
Content is any text/copy, videos and images on your website. Your developer will need to know from the outset what types of content you’re going to have on your site.
To ensure your content works seamlessly with your website design, the content itself needs to be available as soon as possible – ideally at the start of the design process.
If you’re planning on outsourcing your content, your developer should work in harmony with the content provider to figure out how best to display it.
Throughout the design and build, there’ll need to be good communication between your content provider and developer so the project keeps on schedule and within budget.
Benefits of project discovery
By asking the right questions early on, your web developer will be better equipped to do a great job on your website.
Some benefits of project discovery include:
- A detailed brief so you know what you’ll get
- Your website delivered on time
- A website that meets the scope
- Maintaining your budget
- A website focused on your business goals
That’s why, for the sake of a few hours, it’s worth answering as many questions as your developer can throw at you!