Most business owners recognize the importance of having a website. Websites are a useful tool for gathering new customers and deepening relationships with existing customers. But, simply having a website may not be effective enough. Many are using their websites as an electronic business card. Think for a second about how people use business cards. Most of us use them as a networking tool, a simple reminder to the people we meet that we’d like to stay connected. If you’re using your website in a similar way, that’s okay, but there is so much more it should do for you.
Before you choose a web design agency, decide what you want your website to do for your business. Consider that your website is an investment with long and short term goals to achieve. Even if you want it to be an online bulletin board to keep customers in the know, think of ways to maximize its potential. Try putting yourself in your customers’ shoes so you can provide them with solutions they need. Also, start paying attention to what you enjoy most about websites you visit often. By doing these things, you will be closely aligned with the fore-thoughts of your new website design team. That’s because every custom website design plan begins with the most important step – the web design discovery phase.
What is the Website Design Discovery Phase?
The design discovery phase is where your web design team “discovers” all the information that is needed to create a website. They use that information to, at the very least, meet your expectations. At our Houston- area web design agency, we begin every new website with a discovery meeting in our Spring, TX office. It is possible to conduct this initial information gathering session by video or phone conference, but our team likes to get to know our clients in person.
Every good web design process should start with an in-depth discovery meeting. The discovery phase allows the design team to get to know the following about your business:
– Key stakeholders
– Business goals
– Target customers
– Your market
– Business processes – the way you operate
– Your website design vision
– Challenges you face
– Your needs
– Project budget
What are the goals for a web design discovery meeting?
The primary goal for the discovery meeting is to walk away with the beginnings of a strategic design plan that accomplishes your goals. By the end of your discovery meeting, your web design team and your key stakeholders should have a solid understanding of what to expect moving forward. At MSDS Entrepreneurs – a web design agency near Houston, our goal is to have all the information we need to create a strategic design plan for every aspect of your website. But, our mission is two-fold. We have a dual responsibility to serve 1. our clients and 2. their customers. For your website to be completely effective, a good web design agency will deliver a great design that meets both your needs and those of your customers. To do this, we dig deep to get to know your business as a brand.
Establishing your brand in the web discovery phase
Branding is a marketing process wherein we work with our clients to establish your business’s identity. Because branding has a major impact on your long term success, all involved parties must be diligent to ensure yours is clearly established. Your website design team has the critical job of making sure everything they design conveys your brand’s identity to your target audience. Our Houston-area web design team works with clients to understand their brand’s image, voice, personality and value. To build strong relationships with your target customers, they’ve got to get a sense of who you are (as a brand) and how you can make their lives better. It’s your website design team’s duty to create a website that communicates those very things.
Don’t worry. If you don’t feel you have a clear picture of how your company is branded or if you don’t think it’s effective, your design team should be able to help improve it by asking strategic questions.
What kinds of questions will I be asked in a discovery meeting for a new website design and how do I prepare?
In a good discovery meeting, the team will ask questions to determine key internal and external factors. This is necessary to develop an effective website design that works as a healthy two-way exchange between you and your customers. Here are some of the questions we ask our clients in discovery meetings near Houston and tips to prepare for your meeting.
– What are your business’s goals?
To be effective, professional web designers have to set benchmarks for your website design. You won’t know if your website is worth the investment unless you’re clear about the impact it should have on your business. And, your team can’t exceed your expectations without knowing what they are.
To prepare for questions about your business goals, start thinking about a S.M.A.R.T. goal plan. S.M.A.R.T. goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based.
– What are the must-haves on your website design want list?
If this is a new website, your team will want to know what things you’d like to include on your site. However, if you are revamping an existing site, they may want to know details about which elements you like on your website, which are working and which aren’t. Is your business product-based and you need to showcase your products and offer them for sale on your website? Or, is it service based and you want to inform and persuade customers to schedule time with you? Whatever your heart’s desire, here is the time to spill it.
To prepare for questions about your must-haves, visit competitor websites and find out what’s working for them. If you have an existing website, get access to your metrics to show your website design team how your pages are performing. Also, have an idea about the colors you want and any tools (widgets) that will be helpful for your customers when doing business with you. In your thought process, try to remember features your customers will enjoy for a good user experience.
– Who are your target customers?
To be successful in business you have to know how to connect with the people who support you. It’s important to know how to connect with them on an emotional level. But, your team will need an idea of how to reach them on a physical and digital level too. Essentially, we need to know which strategies will work to drive them to your website. Your web design team will need to grasp your target audience’s pain points.
As a part of our web design services, we offer our customers premium content writing. This is our way of not only impressing your website visitors with professional wording, but it’s a tool to drive them from a Google results page to your page.
To prepare, talk to or bring along your key stakeholders. Include your managers and members of your sales & marketing team.
Here’s a look at some of the questions we pose to our web design clients in the discovery meeting.
– Who are your biggest competitors?
You won’t be the only company online competing for your customers’ business, but you can be the best. Understanding who your competitors are and how they do business is a key part of the design discovery phase. Your web design team must know how to compete with your greatest competition. They’ll also wan to create your website with the flexibility to pivot strategies in the future. Eventually, you may want to make some adjustments to outpace your competitors. Therefore, you will need the ability to do it without the expense of creating a brand new website.
To prepare for questions about your competitors visit their websites and follow them on social media. It will help you to understand what they’re doing right and what’s not working for them. Take a look at their customer comments and reviews to understand their audience too.
– How much do you know about the technical aspects of having a website?
First, know that it’s okay if you know nothing! Your job is to be great at what you do and your web designers and developers are great at what they do. They will be able to guide you through this part of the discovery meeting questions. The team will use their expertise to determine which technologies will work best for your website.
To prepare for technical questions, find out who’s hosting your current website and if you have a registered domain name. If you’re starting from scratch, it’s great for you to decide if you or a member of your staff will manage your new website or if you want your web design company to do it for you.
– What is your budget?
We’re sure you can figure this out on your own. All you need to know is how much you have set aside to spend on your new website. Some companies like our web design agency near The Woodlands, TX offer flexible payment options that allow you to pay over time.
Preparing is easy, talk to your accountant or bookkeeper to find out how much you can safely afford to spend.
We hope you can see why the web discovery phase is the most important part of website designing. Your website’s success, failure and return on investment depend on its ability to meet your business’s and your customers’ needs. The old saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” holds true even in the world of website design.