These are some questions I think about before starting a new website project. It’s a great checklist to go through before starting to help you scope out your project.
1. Audience and Purpose
- Who is the target audience of the website?
- What is the site tagline, in non-marketing speak?
- What is the number one thing you want your visitors to accomplish on the site?
- What are the next two most important goals of the website?
- What is the criteria for success for this website?
- Will the site visitors be mainly new visitors (for example, for a sales funnel) or repeat visitors (for example, for an association website)?
For more information on this section, see “Three Basic Questions You Should Answer Before Building Your New Website“.
2. For Site Revisions / Migrations
- Is this a brand new site or a revision of an existing site? If new site, skip to next section.
- Do you see this as a complete re-do of your current site, or just a cosmetic makeover?
- What things do you hate about your current site?
- What things do you like about your current site?
- How will the old site be backed up before we replace it? (Let’s discuss).
- How much content will be re-used from the old site vs. new content?
- What is the plan to migrate data from the old site to the new one? (Let’s discuss).
- What is the plan to update the new site with new content while it is in development?
- Do we need to redirect old URLs?
- Do you have a site map for the new site? Do you need help coming up with one?
- How many pages will it have?
- Do you have an outline for each page?
4. Written Content
- Do you need help creating the site content?
- Do you have all of the text content for the site ready?
- Will the text be completely proofread and approved, or are changes / corrections likely during development?
- Would you like me to do the content entry? (Some clients like to do it on their own, some don’t).
5. Image Content
- Do you have the final logos and icons for the site?
- Do you have all of the images for the site? Do you need help with photography or procuring stock images?
- Are the existing images original images? Stock? Original photography?
- Will the images need to be cropped, adjusted for brightness or edited in any way?
6. Video Content
- Will there be video on the site?
- What format will be video be in? (I highly recommend hosting embedded videos on YouTube or Vimeo, not serving video files from your webserver!)
- Will there be video backgrounds? (There are accessibility implications of this).
What features do you want on the site?
- Events management?
- Contact forms?
- Other forms? With logging and Thank You page? (Recommended)
- Popups? Searchable, linkable, shareable? (Don’t over-use popups!)
- Social sharing buttons?
- Social follow buttons?
- Custom post types and Custom fields?
- Custom search/filtering?
- Google maps?
- Ability to upload documents?
- AJAX (elements of the page loading without a full page reload)?
- Third-party plugins, widgets, APIs?
- Will the site be sending email?
- Has the new site already been designed by another designer?
- If not, are we creating a brand new design concept, or are we adhering to an established design language?
- Is there a style guide?
- What fonts are we going to use? Paid or free?
- How many different types of page designs will there be?
- What percentage of your users will be on mobile vs. desktop?
- Does the site need to work on Internet Explorer or any other non-modern browsers?
- Do you want any special hover effects? (Note that hover is not good for ADA compliance and that there is no hover on mobile devices).
- What user information do you intend to collect? (contact forms, email addresses, email list signup forms)
- Are you prepared to comply with the requirements of GDPR and CCPA if a user makes a request for their data?
- Does the site need to be ADA (WCAG2.0) compliant? (Unless you are a religious institution, the answer is “yes” in most cases).
10. Search Engine Optimization
- Do you need help with SEO?
- Do you need help optimizing your content for SEO?
- What is the geographical target of your business? Local? The United States? Worldwide?
- Do you have analytics data for your current website (if there is one) that we can analyze?
- Have you updated to Google Analytics 4?
- Do you need to track any other events on the site other than simple page loads? (i.e., button clicks, form submits, downloads, etc.)
- Do you need any other tracking services on the site?
All sites get SSL by default.
- Do you want to do eCommerce on this website?
- Are there known individuals or parties who might target your website for attack (such as DDOS attack). Examples include disgruntled ex-employees, activists, political enemies, etc.
- What hosting service will we use? (I can offer suggestions)
- What is the URL for this website?
- Do you have control over your domain name?
- Do you have an SMTP email account that we can use to send email from the site?
- What is the estimated traffic of the site?
- How much storage (in GB) will be needed for the site?
14. Testing and Approvals
- Who will help test the website before launch?
- Who needs to approve the website before launch?
- Who are the stakeholders for the website?
- What is the desired launch date?
- Is this a hard deadline (such as a trade show, event, etc.)?
- How long will it take to create and gather your content?
- How long will the approval process take? (Is your boss easy to reach? Are they responsive?)
- What is your budget for the site?
- Do you want to pay hourly for the site, or have a fixed price?
- If fixed, it is a “not-to-exceed” or is an estimate OK?
- Who will be updating the site content after launch? What is their technical experience?
- Do you need training on how to update the site?
- Who will do maintenance on the site? (WordPress core, plugin, and theme updates)
- How often will the site content be updated?
- What is the backup strategy?
- Do you need a staging site? (i.e., a copy of the site that you can play around without affecting the production site).
- What is your criteria for success for the new website?
Please let me know if you have any comments or questions! – Brian