From small informational websites to large ones built for schools and hospitals, I've developed or supervised the development of various types websites for a diverse client base for more than a decade. What I've learned is that understanding client goals, focusing on their customers' needs and expectations, and making clear what it will take to turn a .com in an sea of millions into someone's bookmarked favorite isn't something that happens by accident. The designer and client have to plan for success, and that begins with seeking the answers to the following four key questions.
1. Why do you want a website?
While I strive to make every site to be an effective communication tool that may not be the ultimate goal of the client. Regardless of the reason or reasons, the designer must recognize if client goals are obtainable and what's the best way to reach those goals. If the client cannot answer why he or she needs a site, it's understandable; and not uncommon. However, throughout the build you should be educating all clients on the value of their investment and ultimately discovering what the client's overriding need is. Here are a few common examples:
- Business growth
- Public information
- Public relations
2. Who is your user?
Essentially the user - not the client - is your audience. The website built around the user's expectations will be more effective in meeting the client's goals. In contrast, a website that is self centered (meaning that it’s more interested in telling the visitor about how wonderful your client is) will likely be a turnoff and enough reason to check out the competitor.
3. What is your killer app?
A few informational pages make a decent online brochure but not the best web presence - what you need is a clearly defined killer app. A killer app is that one exciting or exceptionally useful thing that will have visitors asking for more. Regularly updated specials, blogs, event announcements, news features, and valuable or entertaining videos that address audience needs and expectations will be the reasons why a site is bookmarked and visited frequently.
4. How will the site be promoted?
This question serves as an opportunity to address client expectations while explaining what must be done to achieve desired results. That might include discussing that one should blog for increased organic search results or contracting with the developer to provide additional services such as ongoing SEO and/or inbound marketing through social media. And don't forget about the power of print. From creating updated business cards that match the new site and listing the site address with the contact information to developing printed marketing pieces with QR codes that direct traffic to one's online doorstep, print is still a important tool in the digital age.