Working on your company's website is an important project. Websites have become the central hub of most business' marketing efforts and, for many companies, their website is their business. Below are 10 questions that you should answer before your design and development team gets to work. Having the answers to these questions clearly defined will save you a lot of time and money in the long run. It will also ensure that the information architecture, design and development of your website is what it needs to be in order to meet your business' goals.
1. What is the primary goal of your website? To provide information? To sell products? To drive them to a store?
2. Who is your target audience?
3. What functionality does your site need? Differentiate between "needs" and "wants". What does your website absolutely need to do in order to meet your goals?
4. Will your website need to be integrated with a database, application, etc. currently being used by your organization? For instance, will it need to tie into a CRM such as Salesforce® or a back office ERP system?
5. Who are your top 3 competitors?
6. Pick 3 sites that you love. What do you like about them?
7. Pick 3 sites that you don't like. Why don't you like them?
8. Will you want your site to be easily accessed by mobile devices? This means you probably want to stay away from Flash. It also means you should develop mobile versions.
9. What will your website need to do in the long run? Are there any additons that you know will be coming? If so, let your team know so that they can take these additions into account when building.
10. Who will be maintaining your website? Will it be you, your admin team, or will you be working with a vendor? Determine the technical skill level of the people who will be maintaining the site and what kind of updates will be made on a regular basis. If your site will require pretty regular updates, you may want to consider building the site in a content managment system in order to facilitate this process.