8 Critical Questions When Planning Your Company Website

Have you been asked to develop or renew your company’s website? It can be a daunting task, with so many decisions to make along the way to launch date. Whether you’re a novice or web veteran, a successful website begins with a good plan to keep you on track, on message, and on budget.

We’ve prepared eight key questions to get you started. Spend some time to answer them fully, and you’ll be well on your way to making a website that will do you, your team, and your company proud.

Website Planning Questions

1. What is our BRAND?

  • Who are you?
  • What service or product are you offering on this website?
  • What unique quality can you capitalize on that cannot be copied by your competitors?
  • How do you want to express your brand’s personality in tone and manner? Are you traditional or modern? Serious or playful? Authoritative or collaborative? etc.
  • Does your company already have an established brand? If so, how will it apply to your website?
  • What will you name your website?
  • Consider any background information about your company that will be relevant.

2. Who is our AUDIENCE?

  • Who do you want to reach with your website? Identify your primary and secondary audiences.
  • Prioritize your audiences based on how much value each audience brings to your business objectives.
  • What are their habits and demographics?
  • Is your audience web-savvy?
  • What needs of theirs do you want to address? These are user objectives.
  • Think about activities and tasks that will help audience fulfill user objectives.

3.  What is our site’s PURPOSE?

  • What are the primary and secondary business objective of your website?
  • How will success criteria be defined?
  • Think about content strategy and key messages.
  • Think about calls to action that will help fulfill success criteria.
  • Consider what you want your audience to do or walk away with.
  • Think about how to balance both business objectives and user/audience objectives (they will likely differ).
  • Think about search engine optimization (SEO) objectives. For example, are there certain search terms you’d like to rank well with?

4. How will our site answer our COMPETITION?

  • Who are your competitors?
  • How does their web presence address your/their audience’s needs?
  • How can you differentiate your web presence from theirs while still addressing your audience’s needs?

5. What TECHNICAL FEATURES will our site require?

  • Does your website need to include one or more of the following:
    • a database
    • forms
    • newsletter
    • name or subscriber collection
    • large file downloading/viewing
    • current news
    • shopping cart
    • viewer comments
    • social media
    • forum
    • blog
    • marketing initiatives?
  • If you answered yes to any of the above, try to elaborate and verbalize your requirements.
  • Think about any accessibility requirements your website may need to oblige by.

6. What HUMAN RESOURCES will our site require?

  • What stakeholders do you need to involve in decision-making, collaboration and approvals?
  • Who will act as client liaison for the whole project?
  • Who will collect, organize and supply content – including facts, background and photography?
  • Who will write or provide the copy?
  • Who will design and who will program your site?
  • Who will maintain your site?
  • Who will market your site?

7. What BUDGETARY RESOURCES will our site require?

  • How much are you willing to spend:
    • to build your site
    • to maintain your site on a monthly basis
    • to market your site?

8. What is our TIMELINE?

  • How much time do you have to spend:
    • to plan your site
    • to prepare content
    • to design your site
    • to set up your site in html
    • to test your site?

Your answers will form the foundation of your website development plan, and act as key reference points for future decision-making.

Now you’re ready for preliminary talks with your implementation team. Each member (project manager, writer, designer, programmer) will have questions of their own. Thanks to your advance planning, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle new questions and lead your team through the process.