When we’re approached about beginning a new Web presence, ecommerce system, or online application, era//404 likes to pose 10 questions to our clients. This not only stirs up ideas to begin the process, it also allows all parties to fully explore what the process of Web development entails.

1. What are three words you would use to describe your business in terms of focus, pace and culture?
Oftentimes, the description of your business is identical to your Web site. If your business focus is technology, customer relations, politics or health, your site should have a similar feel. Is your pace is dynamic and fast-moving (like an online service or new product) or conservative and rock-solid (like a bank or a law firm)? Your businesss culture (fun, friendly, approachable, professional, formal, methodical, meticulous) should also be represented in your Web sites design.

2. What are the general purposes for your Web site?
Your site should have a primary and secondary purpose (and sometimes even a tertiary one). Purposes could be to increase sales and awareness, to assist in distribution of products or services, informational, educational, eCommerce, subscription-based marketing, customer feedback, ISO or employee intranet, employment postings, product support, entertainment or forums.

3. Will this site be part of an existing marketing strategy?
Does your business already have a marketing strategy in place with previous printed collateral material, web sites, or advertising campaigns? If it does, please send samples of these pieces to assist in ensuring the site works within the framework of your existing strategy. If it doesnt, or if youd like to deviate from your existing strategy, can you provide a description and/or examples of concepting for a new strategy? Would you be interested in working with era//404 to develop this new cross-media campaign?

[ ] Yes, this site is part of an existing strategy.
[ ] No, this site varies from our existing strategy.
[ ] We currently do not have a strategy.
[ ] We’re developing a strategy in-house and will provide samples and a description.
[ ] We’re interested in working with era//404 to develop a cross-media strategy.

4. What reactions (calls-to-action) are you hoping to achieve with this new Web site?
While this question hinges on #2 (general purpose), its important to outline your customers reaction to determine if the site is successful. If the site is information-based, this can be monitored with statistics. Other reactions could be: customer contact, online sales, forum/chat participation, increased customer retention, decreased phone, fax or email support calls, growth of marketing opportunities (mailing lists, newsletters, event participation and RSVPs), etc.

5. How do you plan on maintaining your site?
era//404 provides a number of maintenance opportunities including an online content management system (CMS), maintenance contracts and on-site/telephone tutorials for manual site updates. If you plan on updating your site at regular intervals, which opportunities interest you?

6. The Competition

a. Do you have direct competition?
Providing era//404 with links to competition sites enables us to gauge what your competition is doing, how theyve been successful, how theyve failed, and what makes your business different. Please list some links to competitor sites.

b. How are you different from competition?
If you have direct competition, please list why your business is different and what you do that makes your business unique. What do you do that is different from these other businesses?

7. Which existing site designs appeal to you?
Existing site designs do not have to be competition, nor do they have to even be in the same industry. List some sites that you feel satisfy your general purpose and embrace your companys focus, pace and culture.

8. Aside from your calls-to-action, what are your short-term and long-term goals for this site?
Do you expect this site to grow, to have new sections, to have new features? Will this site work in tandem with other sites that your business may have? Do you expect changes in offerings, strategy or functionality?
While era//404 designs all sites to be flexible, we believe pre-planning and preparation can assist in ensuring your site is cost effective and successful at attaining short- and long-term goals.

9. What additional materials do you have to assist us in providing you with an estimate and timeline?
Before beginning design and development, era//404 provides site Mechanicals (wireframes) and Information Architectures (IAs) to describe site layout, pages and functionality. Do these materials already exist? Can you provide us with sample page content, photography, identity pieces and artwork? What is your estimated budget and site launch target?

[ ] Mechanicals
[ ] Information Architecture
[ ] Design Storyboards (GUIs)
[ ] Digital Content
[ ] Digital Identity
[ ] Artwork/Photography*
[ ] Budget: _________________
[ ] Launch Target: __________
[ ] Copywriter*

* If you do not currently have a copywriter or photographer, would you be interested in working with era//404 to provide these services?

10. What are your expectations to deem this Web site a success?

For More Questions or Information
Contact era//404 for more questions to get you going or for design and development estimates by clicking here.

Download Questionnaire
Click the link below to download our “10 Questions” survey. The file is a PDF, so you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed to view it. You’re also able to fill-out the form using Acrobat by simply clicking a form blank and entering text or clicking checkboxes. When finished, email or fax the completed questionnaire to era//404 or print it for your records.