A new website has to start somewhere, and that somewhere is usually with a pen and a piece of paper in the brainstorming stage. The first time we meet with clients, we need to figure out what they want, and we do that by asking a series of basic questions.

Whether you’re a web developer, communications professional, or a business owner who needs a website, this list of questions may help you start the brainstorming process.

1. What is your timeline and budget?

We need this question answered right away! If you need a website turned around in less than three months, we’ll need to charge a rush fee. If your budget is unrealistically low, we may not be able to help you.

2. Do you have professional images and written content for the website?

Websites are a delivery mechanism for content -- your message -- so the words and images need to be top notch, or the whole project will fall flat. Images must be high-resolution and professional, and content well-written and edited.

3. What do you want this website to do for your business?

What is the purpose of this website? Do you want to answer clients’ questions? Do you have a product to sell? Do you need a place where clients can find out more about you? Answering these questions helps us determine what kind of website we’ll be building.

4. What types of pages do you want? (e.g. Home page, About, Products, Contact, etc.)

A simple, five-page website is going to be a different project than a website that includes profiles for individual team members, multiple product pages, and several galleries! Finding out how many pages you need will help us price the project accordingly.

5. What do you want the visitors to do on your website? What do the visitors want to do?

Sometimes what you want to do, and what the visitors want to do are two different things. The visitors may want to look for your address, but you want them to sign up for your newsletter. We can manipulate the design to achieve certain goals, but we need to know what those goals are.

6. Who will be using the website? What is your core demographic?

A website for a gaming store is going to look a lot different than one for a senior living condo, and that’s partly because of the differences between the people visiting the sites. We need to cater to our audiences.

7. Can we come up with a persona?

A persona is the personification of your target demographic. We give them a name; we know how much money they have to spend; we know their likes and dislikes; we know why they’re coming to your website. And then we keep them in mind when we build the site.

8. What are examples of websites you like? Dislike? If you have a current site, what do you like about it? Dislike about it?

Knowing what you don’t like is as valuable as knowing what you do like. There are many directions a design could take, and likes and dislikes will start us in the right direction. Critically think about the websites you visit.