September 23, 2009

Last week I discussed wireframeing, and its importance in the communication between developers and clients. It left me thinking about how you should get the information about the content for your website in the first place. Most often, what we do is go into a meeting with a client, with only a pen and some paper to take notes on what our clients want. The problem is that the vast majority of the time our clients have no idea what it is they want. It is our job to figure out what exactly it is that the clients needs and wants, and act upon that.

This is when I decided that we need to have a consistent method of getting this information from our clients. Theses are the initial questions you should ask before even giving your (potential) clients a quote, because they are integral for deciding what the project will cost you.

How many pages will your website have? What are they?

Although with the emergence of the CMS, pages have become easier and easier to add, it’s still important to understand how large the website will be. The amount of pages you have on a website effects both the design of the project, and the methods used to create the website.

How do you want this site to be built? CMS, blog, or Static

You’re going to have to explain this one to them. Make sure your client has an understanding before hand of what each of these options mean. If all your client needs in one page that they won’t edit, why take the extra steps which will cost them more?

What is your budget?

Some people like to avoid this because they can’t think of a good way to bring it up. That is not a good idea. Once you get an understanding of the clients situation you can better explain to them what features would be the most cost effective, and best for them. Your not helping either of you if you give them a quote before you know what type of budget they’re working with.

Are there any questions you have for us?

Sometimes clients forget to ask questions which could be very important for the designing process. You shouldn’t expect a client to understand your process as a web developer, there are things that they wont understand about how their webpage will be created.

Who will be providing content for this site?

Again, clients don’t always know the web development process. They may think that in agreeing to create a website for them, you are also agreeing to populate that website. While some web development companies offer this, it is always best to get content from professionals and those who know the information best.

What is your timeframe for this project?

Although important this question is often forgotten. Sometimes you might just have to much work on your hands to work with a new client who needs a website in two weeks. If you take too much work you’re doing a disservice to you and your client.

What other questions do you think are important to ask your clients during your first meeting?

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