What to include in a web design client questionnaire
If you provide web design services, then you likely have thought about having a client questionnaire. It may be online, written, or in person, but you have read that having a questionnaire is a good idea.
The tricky part for most designers is figuring out what to ask their prospective clients. The simplest approach, taken by many, is to grab a template from a website, maybe add some tweaks, and then run with it. Especially if you are just starting out, it seems easier to just get something together quickly so you can get those clients in your door. But by using templates, you might be missing an opportunity to truly understand the client and project before you start.
Instead of copying a template, think through these key points to form your own customized client questionnaire.
Who is your client?
Understanding who the client is goes far beyond the name of the company and what they do. That is of course, the first step. You need to make sure you have a solid grasp of what they do, the industry they operate in, the kinds of products and services they provide. This will serve as the base for your research when you are looking to identify the right kind of solution for them.
You also need to have a sense of the decision-makers for the project. The person who reached out to you may just be one of several people tasked with the project, and you want to be sure you know who will make the final call because that is really the person you want to talk to.
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This is also a good time to ask about budget. You may be open to clients with all sizes of budgets, but if not, you want to find out whether their budget matches your offerings. Better to know early if they can’t afford you.
What does the project entail?
The next thing you need to investigate is why they need a (new) website. But the key here, and this can be tricky, is to get at the actual goals. Are they trying to increase sales? Attract more members to their organisation? Reduce their administrative costs?
You also want to try to get them to be as specific as possible, because that will keep everybody involved in the project on the same page. Additionally, try to find out if there is anything that works well for them on their existing site (if they have one). You don’t want to go through the entire project and then be asked why the new site doesn’t do things the old site used to do.
Who is the website for?
Although many businesses may not know, you want to understand who their customers are. It is fine to talk about a fictional ideal customer – who they are, how old they are, what gender they are, where they hang out online, what their interests are. This is all basic demographic and psychographic information that will help you design a site that works well for the business’ customers.
The other thing that is very important to understand is the reason the customer will be visiting the website. Are they looking to research product information, or do they just want contact details? Customers can need several things from a business website, and you want to make sure to prioritize those things.
What should the site look like?
This is less about specific color and layout preferences, and more about the impression the site should give. Ask your client how they want people to feel when they interact with the brand. Design can communicate a lot of things such as safety and security (important for a financial institution), exclusivity and coolness (good for a fashion brand), or edginess and excitement (great for a band).
Another thing to consider is sites they like or dislike (with reasons), as well as sites of their competitors. These can be direct competitors (in the same industry going after same customers) or indirect competitors (competing for the attention of the same customers but may be in different industries). All of these can give you insight into the design styles and elements to consider for your client’s site.
What would success mean?
The last thing you should try to get at is what success would look like for them. This will help you avoid the disappointed client who says to you three months after launch that they thought they would have had 1,000 new clients by now. Understanding how they are define success allows you to control the expectations and establish the success factors for the project. If they come to you with unrealistic expectations, better to reset them early.
Now clearly, you may not need or want all of the information I have suggested. But sticking close to this will give you more than enough information to start having serious discussions about what the website project will look like.
If you already have a client questionnaire, what questions do you ask? What information do you like to know from your clients?