Measure Twice, Cut Once!
Website planning is one of the key aspects of Web Development that is normally taken for granted. This is very true specially to people who want to build their own website. Its very easy for any business owner who wish to put up their own website to go to the first web developer that they have been referred to and ask them to design an “kick ass” website for them. The next thing you’ll know is that this guy starts building a website for them, without really understanding what the client wants and needs. There was no careful thought done in the objectives and goals why the client wants to put up a website. Sad to say, some of these web designers are just after the “buck”.
This is why I make it a point that I define with my clients that their overall objectives are in putting up their website. Funny thing is that most people don’t have a clue what their objectives are. This is where I step in.
There are several ways to do this. Some ask their clients to send a Request for Proposal or RFP. An RFP clearly outlines what the client wants for the website. It outlines everything that the client wants to have on their website and all their expectation. This might be a comprehensive approach, but I find method to be very tedious for the clients. Most clients have no time, it would take them forever to do this. This is normally leads to lost clients, unfortunately.
Another approach is to do a client survey in form of an interview. This I believe is what most contractors use. Not only does it give immediate first hand information from the clients, but also gives an opportunity to give an initial good impression and therefore establish a good relationship with the client.
But there is one other approach which is my favorite. It is using a Web Development Questionnaire. This approach is actually a cross between the first two methods that I had just mentioned. I like using questionnaires because not only does it help me gather the information I need in a more systematic and organized way, but it also always gives me an opportunity to educate my clients in helping they define what their overall objectives and needs.
There is really more to Website Planning than just asking the client to fill up a questionnaire. But this I believe is a very good start. A good start in measuring twice, before actually starting to build a website that will not only work, but is also in alignment to the goals of the client.