One of the best things you can do when planning a site is to get the client involved. Forcing them to confront, and iterate, their expectations can save you time (and money) down the road. The best way to do that is to listen to them. The following is designed not to be a hard-and-fast checklist, but a tool to stimulate thought, and, from that, to stimulate conversation.

You can either give it to the client to fill out in advance of a meeting or simply use it as a guide while you talk to them. It is best for small- to medium-sized projects.

Website Planning Checklist:

  1. What is the primary goal of your web site? (generate sales, give information, etc.)
  2. Who is your target audience or demographic?
  3. What do you think your audience will be trying to achieve or receive from your site?
  4. Please list the names of five other sites that you like. Why are they attractive to you?
  5. What is the deadline for a new site? Why?
  6. Who are your competitors?
  7. From visiting your competitors’ websites, or those in a similar field, what are some aspects you like and would like included on your site?
  8. What type of content would you like to include?
    • Text
    • Images
    • Audio
    • Video
    • Blogs or Forums
  9. Is the content already created? If not, who will create the content?
  10. For describing your company on the web, what sets you apart from your competition—what makes you special?
  11. What content will need to be updated and how often? Who’s going to do the updating?
  12. Do you have existing brand elements (logo, business cards, letterhead, etc.) that need to be incorporated or that can be provided as brand representation?
  13. Will you be using existing brand colors? Do you have a color scheme you’d like to use?
  14. In addition to the Home Page, what will be your other content pages? (About Us, Services, Products, Press Release, Blog, Links, Location, Contact Us, Directions, Site Map, etc.)
  15. When someone looks at your Website, what words would you like people to associate with it? (fun, funky, conservative, trustworthy, informative, etc)
  16. Is there a theme you’d like to use?
  17. Do you have a specific style of design in mind?
  18. Would you like a search engine on your website?
  19. Would you like to sell products on your website? If so, are you already set up to accept credit card payments?
  20. List the words your target audience will use to find you on the web.

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