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Creating a Web Design Questionnaire

Last updated Oct 17, 2003.

By Kris Hadlock

One of the most overlooked additions to a designer's web site is a questionnaire for new projects or potential clients. Done right, a web design questionnaire will be a time-saving addition to your web design. Think about all the time you would save if you knew exactly what a potential client was looking for before you even had your first meeting. It can also help you determine what to recommend in your proposal and how to create a better estimate.

Writing the Questionnaire

There are several elements, which I've listed below, that you might want to consider including when creating your questionnaire.

What is your name and contact information?

This item is more of a question set, as it should include an option for interested companies to give you their name and contact information. Whether you request the company's phone number or email address is up to you, but it's always worth it to include both as options, just in case the company doesn't have one or the other. This is probably the most important set of questions because, of course, you will need a way to contact the client. If the company doesn't have a web site, it will also give you something to use to do preliminary research.

Do you have a logo?

It's important to determine whether the client already has a logo or will need you to create one for them. If the company has a logo, you can take a look at it to get a sense of the company's look. If the company doesn't have a logo, it will help you determine the cost of designing one.

Describe your corporate brand.

It's probably fair to assume that the company doesn't have a brand if it doesn't have a logo. If, however, the company <em>does</em> have a brand, knowing this can help you determine how much design help the client needs. If the client doesn't have a brand, it will take you much longer to create a branded look and feel, design a logo, and then build the web site.

What is your target market?

Determining the client's target market is not only good background information for you, it may even get the company to consider a concept that it hasn't yet considered. Who is the client building the web site for and what does the client hope to get from it?

Does your company have an existing web site?

If the company has an existing web site, find out what it doesn't like about the site. Why does the client want a new site?

Who will be providing the content?

Does the company have content that it wants to add to the web site or will you be expected to write it or find someone to write it? If the client will be supplying the content, it's good to know this ahead of time so you can coordinate the web site creation with the content writing. Otherwise, you'll need to determine if you can supply the content for the client.

Do you have a Web host?

Make sure that you recommend a host that offers what you need to create the best web site. If the client already has a host, you'll need to decide whether that host will work for you. If you can't work with the client's preferred host, you'll need to let the client know why and explain how it would benefit the company to upgrade or switch.

What web sites do you like?

It can be helpful to get an idea of what web sites the company likes because it's often hard for clients to accurately explain what they want visually. A list of web sites will give you an idea of the direction you may want to go, or help you explain to the client what you think is best for them.

What pages will need to be created?

What pages does the client want created for the site? This does not need to be completely accurate, but it may give you an idea of how large the site will actually be. Plus, you can create a sample site map and really wow the client with your proposal.

Describe your competition

Almost as important as knowing what the client wants is knowing about its competitors. What are they doing right, what design themes does the competition tend to have, and how can you learn from their mistakes to provide your client with a better web site?

What is the budget?

It is extremely useful to include this question as an option. If the client is willing to disclose its budget for the project, you can tell right away whether you're interested. Remember, you're interviewing the client as much as the client is interviewing you. If you decide that you want to work for this client, the answer to this question can also help you create a proposal that fits within the client's budget and keeps you happy as well.

What is the deadline?

If the client wants an entire web site created tomorrow, you would probably like to know this ahead of time. Having a schedule will help you know if you can meet the company's needs. If you can't, it doesn't mean that you should compromise (everyone needs to sleep), just let the company know what is possible and you'll probably be surprised at their flexibility.

These questions are not set in stone by any means. Pick and choose the ones that fit your business best, add new ones if necessary, and save yourself some time so you can do what you really love.

Presenting the Questionnaire

There are many ways to present your questionnaire, but there are important factors to consider with each.

Web Form

A web form is an environmentally friendly option because it does not require any printing. The only downfall is that you need to have experience creating contact forms or hire a developer to create one for you.

PDF

A PDF is accessible to anyone, but if the user does not have an application to edit the file, such as Adobe Acrobat, he will need to print the file and either scan it or mail it to you. This option may not only delay the process, but could aggravate clients as well.

Word

Word documents are not accessible to everyone, but you could probably be 99.9% sure that a user will have a way to open it. They are more easily editable than a PDF and, for this reason, a more accessible option.