Scott Cole, a Norwich based Web Designer and Developer, creating brilliant things.

Scott Cole
Web Designer
& Developer

5 questions web designers ask you and how to prepare

So you’ve got your first meeting with a web designer coming up. They’re going to craft you an amazing website that’s going to boost your business. But, you’re wondering what questions web designers ask in these meetings and how you can prepare best.

How to get the most out of your first meeting with a web designer and the questions web designers ask

I’ve read a number of articles that tackle this topic from a web designer’s perspective (one of which you can find here from Shopify) but I thought I’d give some advice for clients on how to get the most from these meetings by covering a few of the questions you might encounter.

Okay, there’s going to be a few more than 5 questions web designers ask in your first meeting. I’ve written a blog post about the 6 steps web designers take that you need to know. That post goes into a lot of detail about not only the different questions a web designer may ask you but also the steps they’re going to take following that first discovery meeting.

I thought I’d pick out a few questions from the discovery meeting topic and go into more depth to explain why these questions are important and how you can prepare yourself. We could just pull a website out of thin air, but to get the most out of your business website the efforts should be laser focused. Preparation is key.

I’ll be clear; ideally, your web designer is going to guide you through these questions. However, it’s worth getting as much as possible out of that first meeting so it’s worth being as prepared as you can be.

Probably one of the first questions web designers ask : What’s the purpose of your website and what does success look like?

That’s a biggie to start with and on the face of it, it seems simple. To make more money for the business, surely?

Yes, that’s the end game. But what exact purpose is your website going to serve in that overall goal? Here are a few points you can consider:

  • Do you want to attract more customers to come visit your brick and mortar shop?
  • Is the purpose to get more customers to call you? Or email you?
  • Are you wanting to showcase the services you offer?
  • How about increasing brand awareness?
  • Are you selling products on your website and so is its purpose neither of the above, but instead to get the customer to buy products?
  • Are you trying to build an audience for an online business and want to attract a subscriber list?

These are more specific purposes and you may well be aiming for more than one. For example, you may be wanting to showcase the work your company does, as well as have a blog, all with the intent to get more people to contact you.

The purpose of the website can greatly influence content creation, layout and colour choice among other things. Knowledge of what you need out of the website will make that design process more streamlined.

If you’re not sure how to get these answers out of your head, here are a few things to think about:

  • What would help your business grow? Do you need to showcase your work and its quality? Do you have a great shop front but people tend not to know where you are or how to get in touch with you? Think about the problem you need to solve.
  • Do you have lots of business for some services you offer, but your customers don’t know much about your other services? That can be a problem and one a website can help with (along with other professionals like an SEO expert if your web designer can’t help out there or it’s a complex project).
  • You might work in an industry that’s saturated. Do you run a niche coffee place that’s struggling to stand out amongst the crowd? Looks like we’ve hit on another problem.

I think you get the idea. Identify the problem you’re facing and that can help you and your web designer work out a strategy.

What makes your business unique?

I hope this is one you’ve thought about already. If not, it’s important you figure out what your biggest selling point/points are. It should be one of the questions web designers ask.

Questions web designers ask : It's important to know what makes your business unique.

Those selling points will be something the web designer, and a copywriter if you’re hiring someone to write copy for you, will want to put front and centre. These unique points about your business can help solve those problems you thought about in the previous section.

Not entirely sure where to start to prepare for this web design meeting? Keep in mind:

  • Are you the oldest running insert business type here in the area?
  • Do you occupy a particularly nice and interesting building or place for your customers to visit?
  • Perhaps you can provide the largest selection of insert product type here compared to anyone else in the area.
  • Can you provide the cheapest products/services compared to others without compromising on quality?
  • Is the service you provide second to none? You might not be able to be the cheapest in the area, but if you can offer a level of service (like free deliveries, or an incredibly personal service) that others don’t then that needs shouting about.
  • Do you have unbelievable knowledge about your industry? Maybe you love coffee so much you take trips abroad to learn more about the trade and can bring that knowledge to what you do. If you do, you really should have a blog on that website to showcase those things (even though a blog is recommended anyway).

These things that make your business unique is the ammunition you’ll be giving your web designer to do battle with. Make that ammunition good.

Who are your competitors?

This is another one you’ve probably thought about before. If you’re completely unique in your area, then you’re lucky. But that’s probably quite unlikely; there’s probably a few companies offering something similar in your area.

Look at those companies and make a list of their website addresses. It’ll give your web designer a good idea of your competition and how they’re marketing themselves and their unique selling points.

From looking at your competitors you’ll know whether your unique business selling points are truly unique (they should be unique; never mislead your customers).

Who are your customers?

The answer to this probably isn’t going to be everyone and their dogs. Unless you’re a dog grooming/walking business that is…

Try to narrow down who you’re actually aiming your business/products towards. I’ll use that unique coffee shop example again. Perhaps you’re aiming your coffee shop at people who love the hustle and bustle of a busy city centre place where they can nip in for a perfect artisan experience quickly or sit and watch the busy world run by on their break.

Questions web designers ask: Knowing who your customers are exactly helps a great deal. Create a personality for your ideal customer to laser focus your efforts.

Or are you off the beaten track a little, down a side street with an interesting history. You might want to attract customers who love to sit somewhere quiet, take in that history and read a book.

Your perfect customer doesn’t have to be as bland as “men aged between 24 and 30”. Have a think outside the box and come up with a story/personality behind those customers if that helps you narrow down the fit a little. Thinking up a story and personality behind the “typical user” is often a task for User Experience designers, and it works.

Knowing who your ideal customers are can help laser focus the web designer’s efforts when coupled with your unique selling points.

Are there any websites you like/dislike, and why?

If you have competitors, look at their websites before you meet with your web designer for the first time. Go one step further and look at other websites not related to your industry. If you’ve never thought about what websites you like and dislike (if you’re a web designer, you think that about every site you visit… if you’re not, then it might not have crossed your mind) then go visit some websites you use often.

Here’re some pointers to think about:

  • Is it easy to accomplish the task you need to do on that website? If it is, great. What do you think makes it easy? If it’s not easy, what’s stopping you in your tracks? Is the navigation clunky and hard to follow? Are the pages not named sensibly?
  • A good example is if you go to a health food competitor’s website what does the layout and colour scheme make you feel? There’re some tried and tested colour schemes and layouts that web designers rely on for certain industries and product types. Does the look and feel of the website you’re on convey their brand identity?
  • Is there anything that gets in your way when you’re trying to navigate these websites? Do you like/dislike any popups that appear?
  • Overall, try to think of anything that helps or hinders.

That’s really specific, and I appreciate not everyone is going to have the time or inclination to sit down before a meeting with a web designer and think of these things. If you can’t, at least make a shortlist of websites you like and don’t like. Even if you’re not sure you can articulate why you like/dislike them.

This information will give your web designer a bit of a steer on what you’re looking for and what you find frustrating which is why it’s important. As a result,
you’ll get more from that first meeting.

Some last advice on the questions web designers ask

If you’re struggling to narrow down what you need and what you’re looking for or figure out who your ideal customer is, try breaking what you do know into smaller points.

For example, say you know you give fantastic customer service and that you hear from your customers not many businesses like yours do the same. Why might that be? You can ask your customers, which is ideal. Try to break down your “customer service” into actual events/things you do. Do you give exceptional table service? Do you provide amazing product support beyond the norm with a wealth of knowledge about everything you sell?

I’m sure you get the idea.

Conclusion

As I’ve mentioned before, a web designer will likely ask you many more questions than this. They should also help guide you through the questions if you’re unsure (it’s in everyone’s benefit to get as much information out of that first discovery meeting).

The questions web designers ask are not just there for show. They’re important, but I also appreciate you may not have delved into your business in this way before. If you’re ever unsure, ask your web designer for some clarification.

However, being prepared will set you off on a good footing and as a result, you’re more likely to get the website you want and need for your business if you and your web designer are able to laser focus your efforts.