How many times have you hung up the phone after a chat with a new prospective client and then immediately slapped your forehead and said “I can’t believe I forgot to ask ______!”. Yes, fill in the blank. You have done this, right? If not, you will shortly. Well, I jotted down my own personal list of forgetful-questions, and did a quick survey of the top 20 results for “questions to ask new web clients” and related searches. Aside from semantic fluctuations, there was zero overlap: we all ask the same stuff. So I present below the best 72 questions to ask prospective web design clients, along with a PDF chart.
Get your graphic design brain moving
When I brainstormed the list, it was initially very group-oriented and linear, as the brainstorm process naturally is. However, I chose to mix the list results up deliberately for several reasons:
- When a list is in random order, you actually have to read it
- Random lists will stimulate the brainstorming process in you
- Ordered lists will trigger your left brain to say “I already know that” and tell your right brain to shut up: we don’t want left brain in on this at the moment
- Random lists forces your right brain to make associations your left brain simply can’t make: right brain is your buddy on a wobbly new client call
- Asking “random” questions will make you look super smart and leave a good impression on your new client, whether you are really smart or not
If you post a comment below with a great question to ask, I will update the text list and PDF by removing my least-useful or most-lame question and make room for your awesome question.
Print this list of 72 Questions to Ask New Web Design Clients out and hang it near your phone
Why should you print a random list? You should print this out and keep it handy during new client calls so that instead of doodling, you can oodle this list and free-associate questions in a purely right-brain manner. If I put the list in grouped order, or alphabetical, or topical, etc., your left brain would simply shut down the right brain and say “I know all this”. The problem is that your left brain will not lie – you do know this stuff. However, your left brain knows little about timing and listening to and engaging with your new client in robust way.
Therefore, I’d suggest printing this out and keeping it handy, and let your eyes dart around the list. Maybe keep a few handy and scribble on it while you talk. Your right brain will dart around this list subconsciously and hopefully make connections between the random questions listed and what your client is actually saying on the phone. Good luck!
If you are excessively left-brained, you are probably not a designer, and probably don’t have many ordered lists hanging around, so this should work for you just fine. Is your desk a little messy? Sock drawer, at least? But you always find your socks, right? If you get anxiety when your socks are not in alphabetical order, you won’t get much value from a list like this.
One last important note about the list: Some questions are very, very straightforward. Other questions, as you read them, are totally ambiguous. That is the whole point. I want to help you figure out what questions to ask, and not simply tell you questions I would ask. Some questions overlap in subtle ways for some people, but might not for others. Therefore, improvise and tell me what to add to the list in the comment section below!
Uber-final Note: Please also forward me a 10% finders fee when you collect the deposit from your newly thrilled and delighted client who is impressed with your off-the-cuff competence! How impressive you truly are!
The list of 72 Top Questions to Ask New Web Design Clients
- How does your company handle email?
- Do you need any password protected areas?
- Do you have the Pantone numbers for your current company colors?
- Did you take a look at our portfolio?
- What is your time frame?
- Is this a brochure site, or a blog?
- Who is your audience?
- Do you have any specifications?
- What are the website addresses of your competitors?
- How many other companies have you talked to?
- Do you need a business card and letterhead?
- What is your main message?
- Did you or someone else register the domain?
- How familiar are you with search engine optimization and best practices?
- What are several websites you like?
- Do you currently have a website?
- Do you or anyone on your staff have Photoshop or other image editing software?
- Do you need search engine help?
- Does the site launch need to coincide with a product launch or any other important milestone?
- Do you need a content management system?
- How long have you had a website?
- Do you have photos you need to use?
- Will several people be editing the site?
- How many pages do you need?
- Do you have a catalog or brochure?
- How do people find your current website?
- Do you have a newsletter?
- Are you in touch with the orginal designer?
- Do you have access to the web server?
- What are several websites that you like the look of?
- Do you have control over the domain?
- Do you need any other promotional material?
- How familiar are you with usability studies?
- How important is search engine ranking to you?
- Is there any specific functionality you need?
- Will you be providing creative direction?
- Do you have your content done?
- Will your IT person be involved?
- Do you have a logo? What format is it in?
- How familiar are you with graphic design best practices for web designs?
- What is your current hosting company?
- Have you been through the complete web design and development process before?
- Who are your competitors?
- How often do you need to update the site?
- Describe the style of website you are looking for?
- Is the original developer still available?
- What is your budget?
- What is compelling about working with us?
- Do you need an image gallery?
- Are you or anyone on your staff familiar with HTML and CSS?
- Is your logo in Illustrator format?
- Do you need this to integrate with your existing identity pieces?
- How are you going to maintain the site?
- What software do you have?
- How did you find us?
- Did you read any of our blog?
- What bugs you the most about websites?
- Do you need any other graphic design help?
- Do you need social media tools built in, like Digg, Facebook, Twitter, Stumble Upon, etc.
- How familiar are you with web standards and web design best practices?
- Do you need the website to tie into any particular 3rd party applications?
- Do you need a contact form?
- Do you have a domain?
- Do you have any proposals from other design firms?
- How important is customization to you?
- Will you want or need help in making changes? If so, would you need help routinely?
- What do you need your website to do?
- Do you need ecommerce?
- Have you considered redesigning your logo?
- Do you have hosting?
- Have you considered taking a fresh look at your corporate identity? This a good time to consider refresh or an entirely new identity.
- When is the last time you updated the site?
Print the PDF Chart and put it next to your phone
Click on the chart graphic below* to download the PDF or download it here:
* Don’t forget to leave comments so I can tweak this list if need be!