I don't do any consulting, but that doesn't stop people from asking me questions. The most common question people ask me when they want a new website is, "If you were in charge of this, who are the 2 or 3 people you’d want to be sure to talk to – to help think through the issues, help us figure out who should do the work, etc.?"
The second most common question people ask me, "In addition to Apple’s site, are there 2 or 3 that you think are really appealing and work well for their business?"
I think these are perhaps the tenth and eleventh questions you should ask, not the first two. Here's my list of difficult and important questions you have to answer before you spend a nickel:
- What is the goal of the site?
- In other words, when it's working great, what specific outcomes will occur?
- Who are we trying to please? If it's the boss, what does she want? Is impressing a certain kind of person important? Which kind?
- How many people on your team have to be involved? At what level?
- Who are we trying to reach? Is it everyone? Our customers? A certain kind of prospect?
- What are the sites that this group has demonstrated they enjoy interacting with?
- Are we trying to close sales?
- Are we telling a story?
- Are we earning permission to follow up?
- Are we hoping that people will watch or learn?
- Do we need people to spread the word using various social media tools?
- Are we building a tribe of people who will use the site to connect with each other?
- Do people find the site via word of mouth? Are they looking to answer a specific question?
- Is there ongoing news and updates that need to be presented to people?
- Is the site part of a larger suite of places online where people can find out about us, or is this our one sign post?
- Is that information high in bandwidth or just little bits of data?
- Do we want people to call us?
- How many times a month would we like people to come by? For how long?
- Who needs to update this site? How often?
- How often can we afford to overhaul this site?
- Does showing up in the search engines matter? If so, for what terms? At what cost? Will we be willing to compromise any of the things above in order to achieve this goal?
- Will the site need to be universally accessible? Do issues of disability or language or browser come into it?
- How much money do we have to spend? How much time?
- Does the organization understand that 'everything' is not an option?