Wouldn’t it be great if every client arrived at your door with all the content for their website neatly captured, just ready for you to work your magic and produce a beautiful and functional site for them. But that doesn’t happen does it, and some clients expect you to make it all up for them, don’t they? Well, in this article, I’m going to propose a few questions you can ask your clients in order to make this process a little less painful. And remember, at the end of the day, your clients are coming to you for your guidance and expertise, and guiding them through the process of building a website should demonstrate your capabilities and giftings.
The Content Questionnaire
Aside from the obvious questions like, what is the business called, who is going to be your primary point of contact, have they registered a domain name, what is their budget, and what are they expecting from their website, here are twenty questions to kickstart the process of gathering information that you can use to build a website your client will be proud of.
The Business Itself
- Tell me about the business, what does your business do?
At this point, you’re trying to establish the big picture. Ask how old the business is, how it started, what it does on a day-to-day basis.
- Does your business have a tagline?
e.g. Say it with flowers…
- What services do you provide?
Stick to the significant services and consider where these services fit into the sales process. Some services could be rendered before the sale, some form part of the sale, and others come afterwards.
- What is your business’s mission, vision, and values?
To quote Coca Cola*, their mission “declares [their] purpose as a company and serves as the standard against which [they] weigh [their] actions and decisions”, their vision describes “what [they] need to accomplish in order to continue achieving sustainable, quality growth”, and their values “serve as a compass for [their] actions and describe how [they] behave in the world”.
- Who are the key contacts at your business who must be listed on the website?
It would be handy at this point to ask your client to include full contact details and a short description of each contact’s background and the role they play.
- Is your business a member of any industry related bodies?
- Does your business hold any certificates?
Are you certified by any industry specific organisations or suppliers to provide any particular products or services?
- What are your general contact details?
Phone, fax, physical address, postal address, and email addresses that your client would want listed on their site. If there is more than one phone number, they should indicate what service is available at each specific number e.g. Sales: 000 000 0000.
- What physical locations does your business service?
The Client & Competition
- Who is your typical client? In other words, what does your average client look like?
Who are they, how old are they, are they male or female, where do they hangout online, what are their interests?
- What are the main reasons why a client would visit your site?
Are they looking for information and pricing on products/services, your contact details, or something else?
- Who are your competitors (directly and indirectly)?
Ask your client for their competitors website addresses, this will give you an idea of what your client is up against.
- What differentiates your company from it’s competitors?
- List the pages you’d like on the website.
Standard pages include: Home, About Us, Products & Services, Shop, FAQ, Contact Us.
- Will there be a blog on the site?
At this point, especially if it’s not expressly included in the scope of the project, it might be worth pointing out that blog posts would need to be written either by the client (or member of their staff) or by a copywriter/journalist and would consist of articles on various topics or any newsworthy information relevant to their company.
- What words do you think people would use when “googling” for your business’s products and/or services?
What does your client think someone looking for their products or services would type into Google to find them?
- Does your business have any social media accounts?
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Make sure your client provides valid links to all of these accounts.
- Do you want a newsletter signup form?
As with point 2 of this section, it’s important to point out that, unless it’s part of the project scope, that the client is responsible for the creation of newsletters and their content. Managing this for the client could provide you with a good source of recurring income if newsletters is something you’re happy to do.
- Do you have any downloadable resources that you want to make available to your clients?
Things like checklists or safety posters etc. can be offered for download or as an incentive for signing up to a newsletter. If the client already has a brochure or PowerPoint (or equivalent) presentation, that too could serve as a valuable source of information for the website from a content point of view as well as from a design perspective.
- Anything else you’d like to share?
This provides the client with an opportunity to mention anything they may have in mind regarding their website or relating to your product offering.
Wrapping It Up
And there you have it, 20 questions to get you started. So, fire up your word processor and design your own questionnaire and get that content rolling in.
Please feel free to post your ideas in the comments. I’d love to hear what you do to get content from your clients.
P.S. If it makes it easier for your client, suggest that they answer the questions in point form rather than with long for answers. Not everyone can translate their thoughts articulately.
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