To ensure every website project we deliver is top-notch, on time and on budget, we begin with an initial assessment, which is the cornerstone of our process. In fact, after 20+ years of building web applications of all scopes and sizes, we believe this phase — also known as “Discovery” — is the single most important element of a successful digital strategy.
So, what can you expect during a website kick-off meeting?
Whether we are building a website from the ground-up or jumping into a redesign, the Discovery phase helps frame the entire project. Structured as a series of virtual or in-person meetings, we invite key stakeholders and decision-makers to join us for a facilitated Q&A session where we get to know your business and what you believe will define a successful site launch. Discovery typically includes a comprehensive Audience Analysis along with a set of questions that explores how a new website can best serve the needs of your business and its online visitors.
The 15 key questions we always ask during a kick-off meeting include:
- What are the primary goals for the new website build or redesign project, and why are you embarking on this project now?
- Who are your direct and indirect competitors?
- Who are your primary, secondary and tertiary target users?
- Do you have existing Google Analytics or other user data that might support decision-making for a site rebuild?
- What do you consider a conversion — or, put another way, what actions do you want your users to take once they are on the website? Be specific (e.g., make a purchase, sign up for membership, download a resource, create an account, submit a form, complete a donation, apply for a job, pick up the phone — the list goes on.) If there is more than one Call-to-Action, or CTA, which is the most important?
- How does your existing website serve your needs, and where is it most deficient?
- What do you want your new website design to evoke — that is, what brand message are you trying to convey to your users?
- What features and functions would you like to add to your new site, and conversely, is there anything on an existing website that you’d like to discard altogether?
- Are there any third-party integrations that will be transferring from an existing site or implemented anew?
- Can you provide examples of websites you love, and if so, identify the elements that appeal to you (e.g., color, navigation, usability, images, content, functionality)?
- What is the status of your website content — does it need to be rewritten or edited in any way, and if so, who will be responsible for content creation?
- How do you see your website serving you longer-term? Thinking ahead, what should we build in to support your goals for the future?
- How will the site serve any planned marketing initiatives, either online or via more traditional channels?
- Who hosts your existing website, and do you require hosting services?
- Who on your team will maintain the site once it’s live, and will you require ongoing maintenance services?
Of course, most times, these 15 initial questions get the ball rolling for an even deeper-dive into the overall project. If done correctly, a well-organized discovery phase provides context for the many, many decisions that are required from kick-off to final launch. By hashing out all of the details at the start, we can avoid costly mistakes, missed opportunities and the unnecessary back-and-forth that can derail the timeline and budget for even the most straightforward website project.
Want to learn more about what it takes to begin a new website project?
For more tips, check out our previous posts: Five Tips for a Successful Website Discovery Phase and How to Conduct an Audience Analysis for your Website.
And, of course, if you’re interested in starting a new project, please contact us. We’d love to hear from you!