The first step, or at least what should be the first step, of any website redesign is the discovery phase. It includes analysis, research, and many questions to guide both. You could even call it the most essential phase of the design process.
Sure, bringing the site to fruition is a must, but this first step ensures that the realized website also realizes its purpose: accomplishing your goals.
To handle the discovery phrase correctly, you must know the right questions to ask yourself. Not just any questions will do, and leading questions that prompt poor answers certainly won’t.
The right website discovery questions will identify all needs of your business and assess how your website can best serve your customers—and you.
They address things like:
- Your industry, products, and audiences.
- Your objectives, big and small.
- Problems with the existing site.
- The type of site and capabilities you need.
- The experience for every kind of user (i.e., prospective customers, returning customers, investors, press, internal teams, potential employees).
- Your marketing strategy and how it works with the site.
- And, of course, budget and timeline.
When you hire a great web design agency, they should already know what questions to ask when building a website. (Otherwise, beware.)
But as a business owner or marketer, it’s wise for you to review these questions, too.
One, to prepare what answers you can so they don’t break your stride. And two, to really get familiar with what you need in case they don’t ask the right questions.
Now, we’re thinking and hoping you picked this guide because of its comprehensiveness, but even so, we understand 237 is a lot of questions.
Is thinking through them all really worth it?
Want Need to Answer These Web Design Questions
As an ecommerce agency, we’ve built more websites than we can count for businesses from OpenHouse Home Insurance to Amazon.com. We pride ourselves on designing websites that increase online sales by 500% in two weeks (we really did that) or push homepage conversions from 2% to 17% (we really did that, too).
How do we do it?
That’s a big question, but we start by walking our clients through a website design questionnaire with questions like the ones we’re going to give you below.
Why does that lead to pure, effective awesomeness?
Well, there are seven reasons these questions will help you get the website of your big ‘ol marketing dreams.
- Prevent miscommunication. Actually get what you want. How many times have we heard stories about websites failing to meet expectations or having to redo work because there was a misunderstanding the first, second, or third time around? Too many!
- Get a website that works, a.k.a one that helps you meet business goals and helps your users accomplish tasks easily—not just a pretty website you have to somehow make work for you. Every design choice should have a reason—each animation, color, page, and how they’re connected.
- Remember the big picture. A not-so-secret secret? We despise websites with so much razzle-dazzle that they become harder to use. Answering these questions to create a brief ensures the obvious doesn’t get overlooked and what matters stays in focus.
- Keep the stars in alignment. Recording answers in one place to reference throughout the project keeps everyone working on the website on the same page. It also allows everyone to review the information and provide any project-shifting insight from the start.
- Prevent blockers down the road. Questions about functionality and user experience may feel like a lot now, but the best design decisions come from being informed. When these questions inevitably come up, they can hold the entire project back until answers come in.
- Receive an accurate estimate upfront—then stay on budget and on time. Sometimes inevitable, unknowable events occur, but with more knowledge upfront, your initial proposal is more likely to be correct. The most costly website projects for businesses occur when new decisions are made and features sporadically added throughout the website design and build.
- If you don’t have an internal web team, confirm that you’re a good match with the one you hire. The last thing you or an agency wants is to sign a contract only to find out the work isn’t actually a fit.
A Few Important Considerations Before You Begin
Questionnaires are meant to be customized. While many website redesign questions are relevant no matter your business, others may not apply at all or need tweaking. You may even think of others to add based on unique business factors, but these should inspire that line of thinking.
You may not know all the answers. Some website design questions are technical or may require deeper expertise or research. In many instances, answers may be up to the designer but are listed should you have input you wish to note. In others, some agencies like ours are happy to provide consultation.
A redesign may not be the answer. Everyone says don’t fix what isn’t broken. We say fixing the wrong thing is just as dangerous. Clients often come to us thinking their entire website is the problem. Sometimes it is, but sometimes it’s only one or two elements—or something outside the website altogether. It’s important to determine what exactly is going wrong and why before starting a redesign.
237 Questions to Ask When Designing Your Website
The moment you’ve been waiting for (if you didn’t skip down here): we present your complete, organized list of website redesign survey questions.
How do we expect you to remember all these questions later? Easy, we don’t. You can get the downloadable pdf version here.
1. What does our company do?
2. What’s our company’s story?
3. What’s our favorite thing about this business?
4. What’s our promise?
5. Do we want to share that we’re family-run or minority-run, if applicable?
6. Is or should anyone be “the face” of our company?
7. What are our core values, and what do they mean to us?
8. How long have we been in the market?
9. What are the biggest challenges facing our industry at the moment?
10. Who are our top competitors?
11. Why should people choose us over competitors, outside of being “friendly” and “likable”?
Products and Services
Remember, not all questions are applicable to all businesses. For example, some below only apply to ecommerce.
12. What are all the services/products we offer?
13. How are they categorized, if applicable?
14. What are the benefits and features of each?
15. What subscriptions or package plans do we have to account for, if applicable?
16. What are our most profitable products?
17. What are our most popular products?
18. Do we have a product we want to push the most?
19. Where do we offer services or sell products?
20. In what ways does locality affect selling points or customers?
21. Should we mention where we source products or how we create them?
22. If so, what sourcing details are important to customers and according to the law?
23. What changes seasonally, if anything?
24. Which seasonal changes are important to customers and our use of the site?
25. Do we offer customizable orders, and if so, what do customers need to know about customization?
26. If we offer customization, what features does the website need to account for, and how do we handle those orders?
27. In our industry, what do customers want or need to know before purchasing?
28. Do we have care instructions or use guides for our products, or should we have them?
29. What excites our customers (any details they love or things they compliment)?
30. What makes our customer service stand out?
31. How do we ensure quality products or services?
32. How do we handle product shipping and ensure products arrive in great condition?
33. What are all of our shipping options?
34. What are our return policies?
35. Do we have any other policies or programs worth noting?
36. Who is our perfect audience? If targeting multiple segments, list each.
37. Do we have buyer personas to provide?
38. If not, what are the demographics and characteristics we know?
39. What are their goals and motivations?
40. What is the exact problem they’re facing that we solve?
41. How aware are they of the problem we solve?
42. How aware are they of the solution we offer?
43. What industry jargon should we and should we not use?
44. What are their common hesitations to purchase?
45. How do they usually find our current website?
46. How do they usually engage with our business?
47. How do we want them to engage with us?
48. Would setting up conversion funnels for each persona be valuable?
49. Are we bringing in leads we don’t want, and what makes them undesirable leads?
Current Website Evaluation
50. Where is our current website hosted?
51. Where is our DNS hosted?
52. Why is the current website built the way it is?
53. When was the last time we audited the site?
54. What needs or business goals do we have that aren’t met by the current version?
55. Is the current website a good representation of our business? Why or why not?
56. What else do we think is working and not working for our current website?
57. What aspects of our website do we absolutely want to keep, remove, or change?
58. How do users currently navigate and interact with the website?
59. Are there any areas of the website where users have difficulty?
60. How long do people typically spend on our website?
61. How many pages are on our site?
62. How many of those pages are indexed?
63. Do our pages have a healthy load speed?
64. What pages do users stay on the longest?
65. Which site pages, if any, rank highest?
66. Which pages see the most traffic?
67. What percentage of site traffic comes from site referrals, organic searches, and other sources (like social media and email)?
68. What percentage of site traffic is on mobile, desktop, and tablet?
69. What is the average amount of sales our website makes each month?
70. What is our average order value on the website?
71. What marketing automation software do we use (if any), and do we like them?
72. Are we currently meeting web accessibility standards?
Redesign Purpose and Goals
73. What is the general purpose of our website?
74. What is the #1 thing we want people to do when they visit our website?
75. What other sub-goals do we want to achieve with the website?
76. Do we have a vision for the future of our business and website, and if so, what is it?
77. Why are we looking to redesign our website?
78. Do we want this redesign to be a complete overhaul with a new structure and features or simply a refreshed look?
79. How could the website improve to make our internal processes easier?
80. What metrics do we want to use to measure the redesign’s success?
81. Is there a platform we definitely want to use for the new site?
82. Do we know all the features we want, or do we need help deciding?
83. Do we have any localization or multilingual requirements, and if so, what are they?
84. What are all the user roles we need to account for (customer, employee, etc.)?
85. Do we want customers to have a login to our website?
86. Do we want to allow social login?
87. Do we want to allow guest checkout?
88. Do we want to give any input on how the website handles user authentication? If so, what?
89. Do we need different access or permissions levels?
90. Do we need membership features?
91. Do we want to give any input on how the website handles user profile preferences? If so, what?
92. Do we want to give any input on when and how the website handles user notifications? If so, what?
93. Do we need an ecommerce shopping cart system?
94. If we currently use a shopping cart system, do we need an upgrade?
95. Do we want customers to have the option to post product reviews?
96. Do we want to give any input on how the website handles newsletter signups or subscriptions? If so, what?
97. How do we want to manage user-submitted information (email, database, etc.)?
98. If we require a database, what functionality do we want it to have?
99. Do we want the website to include site search functionality, and do we have any input we want to give here? If so, what?
100. Do we want the website to include an events calendar?
101. Are we open to personalization so that content is targeted to each visitor?
102. Do we want to give any input on how the site handles user-generated content? If so, what?
103. Do we want to give any input on how the website handles user content verification or flagging? If so, what?
104. Do we want to give any input on how the website handles user comments? If so, what?
105. Do we want to give any input on how the website handles content sharing with third parties, like social platforms? If so, what?
106. Do we want to give any input on how the website handles internal company notifications? If so, what?
107. Which features are necessary versus nice to have?
Forms and Data Collection
108. What forms do we need, and what’s the purpose of each?
109. What fields do we want to include on each?
110. What form field information is necessary versus nice to have?
111. Do we want to give any input on how the website handles forms (like auto-save or autofill)? If so, what?
112. What third-party applications do we know we want to integrate, if any?
113. How important is integrating each of these?
114. Do we have preferred payment gateways?
115. Do we know if we need an inventory or stock management integration?
116. Do we know if we need an email marketing platform integration?
117. Do we know if we need a customer relationship management (CRM) integration?
118. Do we know if we need a live chat or chatbot?
119. Do we know if we need a customer survey tool?
120. Do we know if we need a customer reviews or ratings integration?
121. Do we know if we need a customer loyalty or rewards program integration?
122. Do we know if we need an event registration or booking integration?
123. Do we know if we need any learning management tools integrations?
124. Do we know if we need any webinar or online course integrations?
125. Do we know if we need a support ticketing integration?
126. Do we know if we need any integrations for HR or recruitment?
127. Do we know if we need any project management or collaboration tool integrations?
128. Do we know if we need a fundraising or donation platform integration?
129. Do we know if we need a document signing or contract management integration?
130. When was the last time we went through a rebranding?
131. How and why did we evolve then?
132. How do we describe our brand now?
133. Do we have a brand book to provide and know where to access it?
134. Are there any characteristics or personality traits we want to portray?
135. How about ones we definitely don’t want to portray?
136. What are the feelings we want to invoke?
137. Do we know the HEX or RGB values for our company colors?
138. Do we have any other materials that need to match the website (like brochures)?
Content and SEO
139. Do we know what pages we need on the new website, or do we want help deciding?
140. Do we plan to reuse our current website content, rewrite it, or a combination?
141. If rewriting it, do we have the time and expertise to do it in-house, or do we need copywriting services as well?
142. Who will be responsible for it if we do it ourselves, and when can we finish it by?
144. Who will be responsible for uploading and formatting our website content?
145. Do we want SEO optimization beyond the development scope?
146. Have we done keyword research or have keywords we want to use?
147. If so, what are our top-performing keywords currently?
148. If not, what searches do we think people would use to find our services or products?
149. Do we need a content management system (CMS)?
150. Do we need help selecting the best CMS for our needs?
151. What do we like and dislike about our current CMS, if applicable?
152. Do we need a CMS that can run multiple websites?
153. Do we need a content inventory or audit?
154. What’s our plan for transitioning our earned links, and do we need help with it?
155. Does our website need a blog, news section, or forum?
156. Do we have a content strategy or need to plan one?
157. What types of content do we publish or want to publish on the new website?
158. How frequently do we want to update our content?
159. Do we need help with our content marketing?
160. Do any of our current blog posts have information or calls to action that need to update with the new website?
161. Does any of our content need to be password-protected, and if so, which content?
162. Is any of our content gated behind a form, and if so, which content?
163. Do we have an existing design system?
164. What unique considerations do we have for users on mobile or tablet?
165. Generally, what types of things do we like experiencing on other websites?
166. Generally, what types of things do we hate experiencing on other websites?
167. What are three competitor websites we specifically like and why?
168. What information, pages, or features must always be visible to users on our website?
169. Will we want any custom illustrations?
171. What contact information do we want to include, if any?
172. Do we want to include team or staff profiles?
173. If so, what information do we want to include for each person, and when can we get it by?
174. Do we have customer support resources and any input on how they’re displayed? If so, what?
175. Do we have any job listings to include or any input on how they’re displayed? If so, what?
176. Do we want to give any input on how the website handles pricing information or product and service details? If so, what?
177. Do we want to give any input on how the website handles customer testimonials or reviews? If so, what?
178. Do we want to give any input on how the website handles product ratings? If so, what?
179. Do we want to give any input on how the website handles recommended content or products? If so, what?
180. Do we want to give any input on how the website handles confirmation or error messages? If so, what?
181. Do we have a logo we plan to use, or will one need to be created?
182. Do we have a list of all testimonials we can display on the website or know when we can get it by?
183. Do we have a list of all client logos or partner affiliations we want to display on the website (if applicable) or know when we can get it by?
184. Do we have a list of all case studies, success stories, or proof points we want to display on the website?
185. If we need to write new case studies, when can we complete them by?
186. If we need to outsource writing them, when can we provide the information to include in them by?
187. Do we have a list of all certifications, accreditations, and awards we want to display on the website (if applicable) or know when we can get it by?
188. Do we have a list of all press coverage we want to display on the website (if applicable) or know when we can get it by?
189. Do we plan to reuse any photo or video content from our website?
190. How many images, videos, or audio files will we need to create or outsource finding/creating?
191. Do we know if we prefer using a video hosting service or embedding from Vimeo or YouTube?
192. Do we have a list of all other media (like PDFs or ebooks) that need to be accounted for or created?
Technical and Security Considerations
193. Do we have full access to our website and login information we can provide?
194. Does our current web host meet all of our needs (space, bandwidth, etc.)?
195. How much traffic do we experience now?
196. How much traffic are we anticipating?
197. Are there traffic-spike potentials at certain times?
198. Do we plan to change domains for any reason, and if so, do we want help selecting a good domain?
199. Do we have or need an SSL certificate?
200. Do we collect sensitive user data like SSNs, medical data, or credit card data that we need to account for?
201. What legal or compliance requirements do we need to consider?
Analytics and Marketing
202. What analytics tools are we using?
203. How are we doing at tracking website conversions?
204. What metric(s) do we currently use to measure our blog’s success?
205. What metric(s) do we currently use to measure our website’s success?
206. What marketing channels are we using to reach our audience?
207. How many leads do we generate each month?
208. What tools do we use to track lead generation?
209. What are our lead scoring criteria, if any?
210. Should we start using a CRM to store sales and customer information?
211. If we already use a CRM, what does the process look like, can it improve, and how does it influence our website needs?
212. How do we plan to market the website when it launches?
213. Do we plan on using ads to drive traffic (search, native, display)?
214. If we send email marketing communications, how should this influence our website and how we use it?
215. If we use SMS marketing, how should this influence our website and how we use it?
216. What types of emails and/or SMS do we send, and can we pull examples of each?
217. Do we want certain actions on our website to trigger automated emails?
218. What sorts of analytics reports do we want to be able to review on a monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis?
219. Are we interested in performing A/B tests to increase clickthrough rates post-launch?
220. Who will be involved in this project, and what are their roles?
221. Who will review, provide feedback, and approve the website design?
222. Do we have a preferred system or communication method for providing feedback on wireframes, designs, and staging?
223. Do we have preferences for how involved we want to be and how often we want updates?
224. What are our preferred contact methods for updates, questions, and meetings?
225. What are all the blockers or setbacks we could foresee on our end?
226. Do we have any concerns we foresee to talk through with our web designer?
Timeline and Budget
227. When do we want to start work on the new website?
228. When do we want to launch the new website?
229. Can this be a singular launch, or should we launch in phases?
230. If a phased launch, what milestones do we want to meet?
231. If a phased launch, what’s the time frame for total project completion?
232. What’s our budget for this project?
233. What’s our yearly budget for site improvements?
234. Do we want to budget for user testing during design and development?
Training and Support
235. Who will manage the website after launch?
236. Will we need training on how to make website updates and publish content?
237. Will we need to outsource website maintenance, or can we handle that internally?
Approaching the Right Questions the Right Way
The abundant use of “right” is starting to feel a little dictator-ish, and we’ll amend that “the right way” can look a little different from business to business. But before we wrap up, we’ve gathered a few tips that carry across the board when it comes to answering your website redesign questions.
- Don’t rush—within reason. The more time you spend here, the more time you’ll save throughout the project and the more efficient it’ll be. That said, don’t move at the pace of a tortoise leaving a buffet at the DMV, if there were such a thing. Your website is too important to put on hold forever.
- Don’t do it alone. Answer these questions in a team, and meet with your designer to run through them. You’ll get more insight and go over follows up together for less back and forth later.
- Record Q&A sessions. Sometimes the most profound idea can slip by unnoted. With a recording, you capture everything and sift for the gold after.
If you want it done right, building a website is a big task.
But it’s the foundation of your business, and it’s worth building something great.