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What Questions Should I Ask Before Building a Website?

So, you’re ready to build a website. Congrats! This is a colossal milestone for your business. After all, a quality website can be the gateway to all of your wildest dreams: more readers, more clients, and (most importantly) more money.

But . . . where to start?

Believe it or not, we were once in your shoes. And heavens to Betsy, did we have questions.

From “what’s our purpose?” to “how often should we update our content?”—and even a few “what are we doing with our lives?!” for good measure—we asked it all.

And, lucky for you, we’ve learned from experience which questions actually matter. So we’ve provided a list of those questions below. (Plus, ya know, the answers.)

What Is the Purpose of My Website?

The purpose of your website determines the design and functionality of the site—so it’s important to start here. For example, a website that advertises a business will look totally different from a blog. And a blog will look different from a site that sells products or services.

If you’re not sure what your purpose is yet, hit pause on building your website until you have it figured out. Once you know what you want to do, the rest will come.

Who Is My Target Audience?

Figuring out your target audience is not easy. That’s why we’ve written about this very topic time and time and time . . . and time again. Fortunately, you don’t need to have the answer to this question written out in excruciating detail, yet.

But you do need a general idea of who you are writing (and selling) to. With a few broad strokes, you can establish some baseline ideas.

For example, are you selling to other businesses or to consumers? What kinds of people, generally speaking, will find their way to your website? Having some broad answers to these questions will help you make important design and marketing decisions as you build your site.

What Content Will My Website Include?

Once you have a general idea of your purpose and target audience, you can start to think about your content. Ask yourself, what do I want my visitors to see when they land on my homepage? A photo? A funny story? An introductory video?

There is no wrong answer, really. But be sure to think about the fact that most visitors will spend only 52 seconds on the page before moving on. What do you want them to know about you at first glance? Once you have that figured out, you can begin to brainstorm additional topics you want to cover down the road.

How Often Will I Need to Update My Website?

Some websites require more frequent updates than others, depending on the type of content. For example, if you are running a blog, you will probably need to make updates on a weekly basis. If you’re just advertising your business, updates may only be necessary every few months.

Knowing how often you need to update your site will also make an impact on the type of site-building platform you use, so make sure to answer this question before you get going.

If you are going to be making changes every week or every few days, then you want to use a platform that will allow you to manage the site yourself. WordPress or Concrete are the go-to platforms we recommend. If you are not interested in making updates yourself, or if you want a site that is lightning-fast, then you should go the hard-coded or headless CMS route.

A quality website can be the gateway to all of your wildest dreams: more readers, more clients, and (most importantly) more money.

What Features Does My Website Need?

There are a lot of features that can be included on a website. But not every website needs every feature.

To determine what your website needs, figure out what you need your website to do. Will you need a contact form? A blog section? A store? The more specific you are, the easier it will be to find a web developer who can build the site of your dreams.

As a starting point, ask yourself these questions:

  • What would a potential customer expect from a website like mine?
  • What do other websites within my industry have going on?
  • How can I make my website as streamlined and helpful as possible?

Having a great website is no longer a convenience for your customers, it’s an expectation. You might not operate on the same scale as Amazon, but if your business sells products, your website needs to be about as easy to use—otherwise, you can’t hope to compete.

The same is true of any industry; so it helps to start by mimicking what the heavy hitters in your league are doing.

As you do your research, you may find that industry trends differ from your own preferences. In this case, it’s a good idea to erase any ideas you have about what a website “should” look like. Sure, you might hate large banner images. But if that’s where people click the most convert, you should ignore your feelings and follow the data.

Am I Ready?

Above all, make sure that your website reflects your brand and meets the needs of your target audience. If you’re not sure what those two things are, then you aren’t ready to build a website. And that’s okay! When you finally are ready to build, you’ll be confident that the site you end up with is exactly what you need to achieve your goals.

We like to say that websites are like houses. There’s a lot to think about before you start building.

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