Whether building the first website for your new venture or redesigning an existing website, the task can often feel overwhelming. Just deciding what technology to use can make your head spin.

After meeting with new clients for almost ten years, I’ve found that the most challenging task for most clients is developing the content (images and text) that will make up your new website. While it’s important that it looks and performs well, the primary function of your new website is to help sell your products or services.

Here’s a list of questions to help get your creative juices flowing when planning for your new website. 

To sell a product or service? To provide information? Is your website your primary marketing tool? Will customers buy your products or services online? Or will they research on your website and then call or come into your store to buy? The answers to these questions will help determine the site’s focus and layout.

Will users be able to shop? Make purchases? Fill out forms? Print documents? View photos and/or other media? Register and log-in?

All business? All fun? Traditional? For example, some businesses, such as insurance agencies, want to be viewed as businesslike and reliable while others, such as flower shops or pet stores, generally seek a lighter more ‘fun’ look.

If so, should this work be incorporated into the new site? Do you have existing brand elements, color pallettes or logos? This is especially important when considering a redesign of a current website.

What type of content will you have on your website – text, images, video, audio, etc.? Where will this content come from? Does it already exist or need to be developed? If it needs to be developed, what is the time line for develpment? The answers to these questions are critical in the planning process as they greatly impact time lines and budget.

Does the deployment of the new website coincide with any other business events, such as grand opening, new product or service launches or special anniversaries?

What design elements do you like about these websites? Is there any functionality on these sites that you would definitely like to see on your website? Looking at what you like and don’t like will speed up the designing process. It’s particularly helpful to look at websites for businesses that are in the same industry. 

Are you planning to maintain your own website content or will you be looking for someone to do that for you? Believe it or not, this factors into how the website is built. If it’s so complex that only a developer can make changes and you plan to maintain it yourself, then there is a problem. 

Do you have plans to expand the features on your website in the next year? Will you eventually incorporate things such as shopping carts or blogs? It is helpful to keep this in mind as the website is being developed in order to avoid major changes when you are ready to make the enhancements.