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25 November 2010

Top Tips

The Top 10 Questions Every Designer Should Ask

You know how it is with creative sorts - all they want to do is crack on and, well, create.

Web designers are particularly notorious for it, but although you have to admire their enthusiasm, it doesn't get the best results.

Finding out exactly what you, the client, is trying to achieve, and what your expectations are, is often harder than designing the site itself.

The next time you're in need of a web designer, listen out for a few key questions they should be asking you. If you don't hear them, start to worry!

    1. What's your budget?

      Before you've been sold them the dream of an all-singing, all-dancing website worth £10,000, they should know your upper limit.

    2. What's your deadline?

      If timing is crucial, they need to be honest if they can stick to your schedule. But be realistic. Don't say "in a week" just because you want it done. Creative genius appreciates time.

    3. Who is the site for?

      Variables like age, gender and spending power will all have a bearing on the design. What motivates these people? What worries them and what problem are you trying to solve for them? If you fail to answer these crucial questions at the start, your website will be a waste of time and money.

    4. What exactly do you want your website to do? Generate sales? Provide information? Increase your standing as an expert? Create rapport and trust? Encourage two-way conversation? All of the above?

      One of the key reasons why designers fail to please their clients is a blatant misunderstanding of their requirements.

    5. What are notable competitors doing?

      Any good web designer will want to know who you consider your competitors to be, and what it will take to better their efforts.

    6. What supporting marketing is/will be there to raise the website's profile?

      If you've already set the wheels in motion for other marketing material to support the site, the web designer should want to see it for the look and feel. Consistency is key to any marketing message.

    7. What are your favourite websites and why?

      This is an excellent way of discovering what makes you, the client, tick. What colours do you like? What tone of voice do you prefer their copy to take?

    8. Can I put my signature on your website?

      Many web designers will assume that you won't mind them using your website as a free vehicle for their own advertising. But good manners cost nothing and will help avoid potential conflict later on.

    9. What are your full contact details, including full postal address?

      This will reassure you that your web designer means business and expects you to be up front and committed.

    10. What do your typical users think of the design and navigation? (preferably before the site goes live)

If the web designer doesn't know someone fitting your ideal client's profile, they may call upon you to show the site to a few people before it goes live and to get honest feedback, criticisms and comments.

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