Gaining the courage to start freelancing as a web developer and moving beyond personal coding projects is a big leap into the unknown when you are a code newbie. Building and servicing websites for clients can be very complex and quite daunting. From the inception of ideas to the actual launching of a website, there are many variables in between that need to be understood and planned out in order for the project to run smoothly.
Determining the parameter and scope of the project as best as possible in the beginning can help to foster a great client relationship and set a positive tone for the entire experience. Helping the client outline their needs will also allow you to figure out if you are the right person for the job.
This initial fact-finding phase is generally referred to as the Discovery stage. Here are some questions to get you started. Digging deep and asking the right questions, not only will save you time and money but may spare you plenty of anxiety too.
Key questions to ask your client:
1. Please describe your business in a few sentences. What is your best elevator pitch?
2. What are your goals for this project? What is your definition of success? What do you want your website to do for your company?
3. Do you currently have a website? If so, what is or is not working for you? What do you like and what are your pain points? How long has it been in operation? How easy is it to update?
4. Will you need help with branding? If so, what colors, fonts, styles do you like?
5. Can you offer any analytics to determine how your current site functioning?
6. Who are your competitors? What do like and what don’t like about their competitor’s websites.
7. What differentiates you from your competition? What are your unique selling points?
8. Who is your target customer and audience? Describe them. Do you have any demographics or data available?
9. Do you have any other sites you like? If so, what are they and what do you like about them?
10. What Content Management System (CMS) are you using? Who is currently managing this for your website? Will you be updating the website content or are we maintaining it for you? What kind of approvals will be necessary? What text, copy, graphics or logos are to be included in the build?
11. How do you want your customers to be able to communicate with you, ask questions, and receive answers?
12. What is your Search Engine Optimization keywords or phrases? What would you like to be searched for most? Has your content already been geared for this?
13. What is the timeline for completion or scope of the project?
14. What is your budget for this project? What absolutely can you NOT live without on your website?
15. What do you want your website to do or offer? Describe its functionality? What is your call to action? What are the main categories of information to be captured by the website?
16. Will you need a database (e.g. contact forms, newsletters, blogs, shopping carts, etc.)?
17. Is there any internal advertising that will need space in the design?
This Discovery process will allow you to establish a deeper understanding of your client’s needs, goals, products, services, branding, budget, timeline, customers and competitors. Once assessing the information, you should be able to detail what level of assistance you can offer and what the project will ultimately cost. Prior to leaving the session, it may be best to schedule a follow-up meeting to review a proposal of work, timeline and a summary of any further details.
My hope is that you have a better idea of the project in its entirety. By using these questions you can establish a plan that is specific to what your client needs and what is best for you to offer while removing any potential issues in the long run. Good luck and happy web developing!
Meg Kozak (pictured left) is a software engineer and tech-savvy entrepreneur providing businesses with targeted web-based solutions. Meg’s background in client relations, wellness, and business development offers clients a unique holistic approach to technology solutions for success.
As a consultant, Meg has led 15 organizations in achieving employee well-workplace distinctions through the National Wellness Council of America. She also co-created a successful community wellness center called the Folded Leaf which also brought to life WV’s first accredited School of Yoga, Om Seva. Meg was nominated for Entrepreneur of the Year in 2009 by the Charleston Area Business Alliance in West Virginia.
Meg recently completed the Moms Can:Code Develop Camp, a professional development, coding, design, and mentorship program. She graduated from New York Code and Design Academy as a Full Stack Web Developer in 2017. Meg has her Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Charleston and a Bachelor of Science degree in Consumer Science & Nutrition from Seton Hill University.