Starting a new website project can feel intimidating at times.
There are a lot of variables at play and plenty of details to keep straight.
The project means a lot to your team. You want to make sure it accomplishes its purpose when you cross the finish line.
It’s enough pressure to make the first meeting with your web development team seem daunting. But when you know what to expect, you can prepare for what's ahead. Instead of stressing, you can feel confident and excited about kicking off the project. And not only will you feel better, but your web team probably will too. When you come ready to answer their questions, they’ll have a better sense of direction for the overall project and the goals you’re aiming to meet. After all, it’s a partnership you’re entering into with your development team. Both parties have an important role to play.
So how can you prepare to play your role well?
To help you get ready for your project kickoff, here are 10 questions you should be ready to answer for your website development team.
1. What’s working well about your existing site?
You may have heard the saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” That’s essentially what we’re talking about here. If something about your current website is working well for your brand, your web team needs to be briefed on it. Maybe it’s a menu layout, a user flow, or a certain design element. Whatever it is, make sure you explain to your dev team what the thing is and why it’s important to your brand (i.e. what exactly about it is working well) so they can figure out how to echo that on your redesigned website.
2. What’s not working well about your existing site?
On the flip side, you should also tell your web development team about the parts of your website that aren’t living up to your goals. Perhaps your call to action isn’t prominent enough. Or a certain page layout makes it difficult for users to find the content they’re looking for. Or your current content management system is tricky for your internal team to use. Whatever it is, explain it thoroughly to your web team so they can propose a resolution to the problem on your new site.
3. Who’s your audience?
This might come as a surprise to some, but your website isn’t primarily about your business. Your website should be all about your audience. They’re the reason it exists. Your site serves to help answer their questions, give them info about what you do, let them know how they can work with you, and potentially a multitude of other things related to what your customers want to see from your brand. If your web development team is going to build a successful website, they need to know who they’re building it for and what that group of people cares about. For this reason, you should be ready to explain your brand’s target audience segments in enough detail that your dev team can craft a web presence just for them.
4. Why does your audience come to your site? How do they usually find it?
When a customer lands on your website (for the first time or the 50th time), what’s the reason they’re coming there? Are they looking for information? Trying to solve a problem? Something else? Once you’ve identified that, take a step backward and think about how they’re coming across your site in the first place. Is your audience finding you through social media, online searches, word-of-mouth referrals, or some other route? Are they usually on a mobile device? Or a desktop computer? Identifying these key points will help your development team better understand how they can build a site that serves your customers’ needs.
5. What’s the journey your audience takes once they reach your site? What can they do? What’s the main action you want them to take?
Imagine your customer has landed on your site and they’re interacting with it. They’re clicking through pages and viewing the content. What’s the typical pattern or flow your audience follows on your website? Which pages do they visit most often? What areas do they care about most? Are there noteworthy behaviors or activities they complete along the way? What’s the main action you want them to take on the site (e.g. purchase a product, schedule a call, fill out a contact form)? These are all important components your web team should be aware of so they can create an experience that suits your audience’s journey.
6. What’s the main challenge your audience is facing?
Think about the pain points your brand addresses for its audience. Often, customer pain points fall into one of four categories:
- Financial: They want to save money
- Productivity: They want to be more efficient and get more done
- Process: They want to simplify their systems and make their life easier
- Support: They want more help in an area they don’t feel confident tackling on their own
Which of these categories does your brand’s solution focus on? Once you have that answer in mind, get as specific as possible within the category. What’s the exact challenge your audience experiences most often that your product or service is specifically geared to help resolve? Be ready to walk your web development team through it so they can more fully understand your customers.
7. Who’s writing your content?
Your web team will want to know the plan for the content on your website so they can act accordingly. Will the content remain the same between your old and new sites? If new content is being created, who’s writing it? Is that being done internally or did you hire someone to write it for you? When will the content be ready? What’s changing in it? You don’t necessarily need to have all of the exact details nailed down at this point, but you should be prepared to explain your intentions for the content on your redesigned website so the team can take this into account.
8. What’s your timeline?
Assessing a timeframe and budget for the project are two crucial constraints to discuss before diving in. Assuming that at this point you’ve already worked out a realistic budget with the dev team, it’s important to now have a deeper conversation about the timeline. If your internal team has any pertinent dates to meet, your dev team should be informed about those upfront. With a full understanding of the constraints at play, you’ll help set your project up for a favorable outcome and minimize disruptions that could throw it off course.
9. What does success look like for this project?
When you imagine crossing this project’s finish line in triumph, what does that look like? What needs to happen for you to consider this a win in the end? Be ready to explain your definition of success for the project and the main factors that have a role in it. Your web team needs to know the final destination you’re aiming for before they can help get you there.
10. What questions do you have for us?
Your development team should anticipate you having questions for them as your project gets underway. Give it some thought ahead of time so you come prepared with a list of your initial questions. Maybe you’re wondering about how the process will work, expected timelines for certain deliverables, the tools and technologies they’ll use, or some other element of the project. Getting those big questions out of the way at the start will help you feel more assured about things going forward.
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Project & Marketing Manager
Emily can often be found reading, enjoying the outdoors with her dog, and trying to keep her houseplants alive.