Questions to ask when building your first website

Many people needing a website rush into the process without asking questions about the purpose of their new venture. They know they need a website, it has to fit within their budget, they have an idea of what they like and a loose idea of what they need. These are murky waters and it's best to set an anchor. If a clear direction isn't set you may increase the probability of using a pre-established template, which solves many problems yet perhaps not yours; go searching on the web pulling things you "like" from other websites, creating an incohesive frankenstein or something that was made specially for the people that really love pink, orange and purple together.

A good site takes time and a good understanding of what you want to accomplish.

Number one question to ask yourself before starting a website is "What is my objective?" What is the site's purpose and be as specific as possible. "I want people to see my products" may not be specific enough to get enough value.

"I want people to understand why using my natural products is a better choice than popular store brands".

This is more specific and can drive the decisions you make for your site and will help give purpose and direction.

Using natural products as an example, I've listed possible advantages your product may have over a potential competitor.

  1. It's made by someone that cares
  2. It uses no additives, or nasty chemicals
  3. It's darn prettier
1. Caring you
  • You may need a lovely photo of yourself with a short bio, maybe a video, whatever medium suits your personality and you're comfortable with.
2. No additives, or nasty chemicals
  • - A prominent listing of the ingredients beside your product.
  • - an explanation of why chemicals are a bad idea
3. It's pretty
  • - Invest in great photos that illustrate the quality of the products and make them big enough to see. Drool worthy please.

These suggestions may seem general and perhaps obvious, but what I'm trying to illustrate is that everything should stem from your objective, which will make the content and design cohesive and re-enforce your core message.

*Note to self -- add a diagram

More Questions

Paying attention to how you can gratify your visitors and meet their expectations is an another important strategy in creating a successful website. When a visitor comes to your site with the question "What is this site about?", they should be able to know the answer almost immediately without searching. No clicking around and spending a lengthy amount of time reading descriptions and intro text to figure what your site is about. Any question the visitor may have, especially if it benefits you (How do I buy this?, How do I contact this person?), should be a priority in your design and layout.

Caring about your customers experience will go a long way. Below are a list of questions you can ask yourself to assure your visitor is a central part of your website decisions.

  1. Can my visitors find what they are looking for easily?
  2. Can I simplify or remove anything (clutter) to reduce distractions
  3. Is my contact information easily seen.
  4. Will they get tired reading long text?
  5. How many pages will they click on before they get their needed information?
  6. Is the tone of the content in a manner they are accustomed to?
  7. Will the prominent content be relevant to a returning visitors?
  8. What kind of experience would my visitor have if they were in a rush?
  9. Am I respecting my visitors attention?

It is always good practice to imagine how your visitor will walk through all your decisions. Simplifying and focusing on how best to serve your visitor will go along way in improving the visual clarity of the design, communication and over all experience.

There are a lot of quickly, poorly built websites out there and a smooth experience could be the distinguishing factor that may turn your visitors into customers.

Please feel free to leave a comment or contact me.