Signs Of Website Design Process Failure… and How To Stop Them

How To Take The Headache Out Of Website Design Process

“Is there a better way to writing a profitable web design proposal?”

“Does client work have to be so hard?”

“How can I do a better job winning new website design clients?”

These are just a few of the questions that I hear from new designers and developers trying to grow their business, but don’t know where to start.

These are all great questions. And it’s a good sign that you’re asking questions.

But are you asking the right questions?

It’s like I tell my daughter – “asking better questions leads to better answers”.

My daughter and I have this game where we’ll have these really off-the-wall discussions when we’re driving down the road.

She used to ask questions that didn’t make a lot of sense. I’d be thinking, “that sounded like English, but I’m not even sure what that meant.” So I’d respond by saying “ask a better question”.

She’d then think about it for a minute then come up with a better version of her question and then we’d be off on a tangent talking about all kinds of stuff like how trees “breathe” or why roads aren’t straight.

Fun discussions.

Asking the right questions that are actually better versions of simple questions is a smart thing to do.

Especially when you’re trying to design a new website.

And the time and place to ask your best questions is during the initial consultation where you’re trying to figure out if you even want this project, and if the client is the right fit for your business.

So after all the hand-shaking, introductions, and small talk, it’s time to get everything out on the table and talk about what this project is going to look like so we can all know whether or not we’re a good fit for the prospective client.

Here are a few things you need to uncover to get your new website design project started on the right path.

Things the web development team needs to know

We need to understand project scope, budget, timeline before we get too far down the road in discussions about features and functionality.

Sometimes these initial consultations can be pretty short if the project isn’t the right fit.

The goal of this initial discovery meeting is to uncover the key elements of design and functionality needed to be successful with the project so we can determine an internal timeline and start working on pricing for the proposal.

Big features and design requirements

At this point, I’m looking at the big picture. I’m trying to figure out what the key graphical and design elements are that need to be included and big pieces of functionality that we need to build.

That also includes what does not need to be included. Doesn’t make a lot of sense to spend the time and effort in creating a website design proposal and not have a good idea about what needs to be avoided or changed from their current site.

What’s working and what we need to stay away from

Here’s a list of questions I usually include for that discussion. I’m looking for answers to questions like:

  • Are there any cultural taboos, negative colors, things like that that are important that we may not know about at the moment?
  • What is the main goal of the website?
  • What is the secondary goal(s)?
  • What are your main calls to action?
  • What are your traffic goals?
  • What is working best on your site right now?
  • Are there any features you would you like to keep?
  • What needs to go?
  • What isn’t working but should be?
  • Who is the intended market? What are your site visitor personas?
  • Who are your competitors? What do they do better than you do on your site? What do you do better than them?
  • Are you using your website to generate leads? If not, why not?
  • Which products and site pages are most popular? Do you know why?
  • What are your site visitors/customers telling you about your website?
  • What do you want remembered? What impression do you want to leave with your website?
  • What don’t you want in terms of look and feel? (if you can’t stand a particular color, it’s good to know in advance.)
  • Which two or three brands NOT in your industry do you like and why?

What does success look like?

I learned to ask this question years ago and it’s become part of every new website consultation I do.

The first time I asked it during an initial consultation on a new web design project the client responded, “What a great question! I’m really glad you asked that because none of the other designers I’ve talked to did.”

She then outlined what her vision for the project was and it helped immensely with setting expectations and getting things right. We knew what she wanted and we knew what would make her feel like her investment was well-spent, and we nailed it.

Since then, it’s been a staple so we can paint a picture of what real success for the project looks like so we can make a plan to make that happen.

Next Steps

If you’re looking to start a new web design project then you really need to go into it having an idea of what’s involved.

I’ve got seven primary strategies and steps I use to build out new website projects, from big sites with custom post types, custom fields and fully bespoke custom themes, to small sites and personal blogs.

If you’d like to learn the strategies and steps I use to build a new WordPress site then you will definitely want to download the Ultimate WordPress Start-Up Guide here.

In this guide, I show you the behind-the-scenes things I use every day as a web developer so you can see all the things you need to start a new website project with WordPress right at your fingertips.

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