The discovery processes at the start of a project is really the most important phase in a web design process because it shapes the trajectory of your project. One of the best things you can do to make sure your website connects with your audience is to ask yourself who you’re doing business with.
What are their concerns? What makes you unique? Why should they do business with you (and not a competitor)?
We walk our clients through a guided open-ended questionnaire that helps us understand these questions.
Here are some of the questions we ask clients. These questions are an excellent starting point to begin to understand how to shape your content, pick imagery, and even make decisions on the layout of your website:
- Describe your business in a few sentences.
- Describe your clients in a few sentences.
- What are your clients’ primary concerns?
- Who, if any, is your competition?
- What makes you unique from your competition?
- Why should your clients do business with you and not your competition?
- How do you want your clients to feel when they’re on your website?
Maybe you can fly through these questions easily. If so, great! You probably really know your audience, yourself, and your competition. But what if you can’t?
No big deal.
You’re like a lot of our clients. You do better in a conversational setting. Being asked the questions, and being asked follow-up questions to elaborate will be how you can excel and get through this process. We’d invite you to give the questions to a friend or business associate and have them walk you through it while they record your responses. Give that a try.
So you have your answers, now what?
Describing your business in just a few sentences might be difficult, but think about when you’ve felt like you had time to listen to a specialist you’re hiring drone on and on about what they do and how they do it. You’re not interested in that, you’re interested in how they can solve your problem and what guarantees you have if they can’t. Focus on that. If you do, your clients will appreciate it.
Describing your clients in a few sentences will help you frame your mind when deciding what content to offer them, and what tone of voice that content should have.
Your client’s primary concerns will help you make decisions about what content to show on the home page. If you want to keep it simple you can narrow it down to the top three, or the most important concern of your clients.
Knowing your competition helps you figure out what makes you unique, and where their weaknesses are.
Knowing yourself is perhaps the most important of all of these questions. Knowing what makes you unique is referred to in marketing as your USP (unique selling proposal). This is something that your client’s can’t get anywhere else. As a positive feature, it’s the one thing your competition can’t reproduce, and that is something you should focus on.
Making a statement as to why your clients should do business with you and not your competition is a direct lead-in to what your call to action might be on your site. If they should do business with you because you’re the fastest – the call to action on your website should probably include phraseology that you’re the fastest compared to all competition (we’d highly recommend that, when you make claims like this, you back it up with a third party opinion or metric).
Knowing how you want your clients to feel when their on your website seems simple, but being clear on this will give you a lot of leverage to make actionable decisions. If you have a storefront, you’ve probably done this without thinking about it too much. The same applies to your website. Stating how you want your clients to feel clearly will help you make decisions about what content you should be focused on, how much of that content you should have, and where that content should go.
Spending time to discover the answers to questions like these will help you form a solid playbook with which to make decisions as you move forward to build your website, marketing strategies, and your brand (if you don’t already have one). We find these interviews to be really fun and engaging, and we hope this helps you understand the importance of spending time thinking about your business, your audience, and your competition in order make sure your website connects with your audience.