Back in 2010 we wrote our original website project checklist for the client. Now some time has passed and we felt it was time for an update. So here it is, the client website project checklist, 2015 edition.
No website runs without a domain name (www.example.com). Some even run with more than one.
- Do you have a list of all relevant domain names?
- Your company may have multiple, be sure to do some digging to make sure that if you are updating our website or moving to a new host that nothing gets left behind/off.
- Does your company own the domain(s) and have access to the domain registration info?
- Sometimes companies let other parties purchase a domain for them only to find out later they don't have access to the account that owns the domain.
- How many domains point to this website?
- You might be surprised to learn that it's not just www.example.com that points to your website. Someone else at your company may also have pointed www.example-example.com to the same spot.
- Would changing any of those domains impact other areas of your business such as company email?
- If a domain changes host and we don't pay attention to how other resources (like email) are configured, moving the website could have unintended consequences.
Many times a site should run with a secure connection, especially if you collecting any information from users. E-commerce, job applications, and even certain contact forms should run with an SSL certificate in place. Google is encouraging sites to run in secure mode by default, even if users aren't sharing information with it.
- Does your website require SSL (secure sockets layer)?
- An SSL certificate can be purchased from sites like Thawte or Verisign.
- Are there sections of the site that need to be password protected?
- Does the site have any e-commerce or transactional forms where users will be submitting information?
- Does the site need to be HIPAA compliant?
- Other reasons to encrypt the site?
Your website isn't for you, it's for your users. So knowing who is coming to use your website will help us build a better, more effective solution.
- Describe the people who might visit your site. What are their names, job titles, etc?
- Are they from different industries?
- What information are they looking for?
- What questions do they ask?
- What actions should they be taking?
- Is any usage or analytic data available for the web project team to review?
Search Engine Optimization
SEO will be important to your new site. Here is how you can help the team with your organic search performance.
- Compile a list of keywords and keyword phrases you think your website should be targeting.
- Don't just use single word keywords like "insurance", those are likely too broad and the competition may be too much.
- Try for more focused "long-tail" keyword phrases that are more specific and will deliver more relevant traffic.
- For the insurance example, maybe you'd try something like "car insurance near Boston"
- Are these words the same as what your audience might use to search for your products or services?
- Be sure to put yourself in your customer’s shoes.
- You may use a term or phrase inside your organization, but if your customer calls it by an alternate name, your search results will be disappointing.
- Be sure to consider this list when auditing and compiling your website content
- Make sure the keyword phrases are a part of the written content
Content - Audit existing content
Before you get too far in the website redesign process, be sure to perform an audit of your existing content so you know what you have to work with. If you are not sure how to go about this, consider hiring a content strategist to assist.
- How much content from the previous website is performing well, and will be staying/moving over to the new site?
- How much is being removed?
- How much needs just minor editing?
- Who (from within your organization is responsible for deciding?
- Don’t forget to include logos, images and videos in this process, those count as content!
Content - Creating new content
Now that you have completed your content audit, you should have a better idea about much new content needs to be created or just edited.
- Are you developing the content internally? If so, who is responsible for creating it?
- Do you need to enlist a copywriter for partial or full copywriting assistance?
Features and Functionality
- Is there any data, feature, or functionality that needs to be carried over?
- If data, what kind of database is it in?
- Do you already have a web analytics solution in place that should be retained?
- Google Analytics is the most common, but you may have other website tracking code in place.
- Is there any functionality the new site should be capable of?
- Does the site need to communicate with any backend systems such as an ERP or CRM system?
- How will e-commerce transactions be handled and processed?
- Do you need to pre-authorize and process credit cards?
- Who with your organization should receive web form submissions and notifications?
- You may want different people to be notified depending on which form was submitted, or how a particular question was answered.
Your site will likely have a content management system (CMS). In order for our team to build it the way you need, we'll need to understand the type of content and how it will be managed.
- How much of the site’s content will you need to edit on a regular basis?
- What kind of content changes will you be making?
- Product data updates
- Simple text updates
- Adding/removing whole pages
- Adding images to a gallery, etc.?
- Who within your organization will be responsible for these updates?
- Should different people have limited access to the CMS?
- Does content need to be approved by other people in your organization before it goes live?
- Do you have an existing blog or similar section that needs to be imported to a new platform?
- What social media properties does your organization maintain?
- Keep a list of all the official social media properties for your organization.
- How will social media be integrated into the new website?
- This answer can vary from simple links, to social sharing on the pages, to feeds embedded on the pages, and so on.
- Will you be updating your social media templates to match the look of the new site?
- Do you own and have control over all the usernames and passwords for those accounts?
- Do you need to create any new social media accounts from scratch?
Hosting is often overlooked in a website project, but it's very important that we know where the new site is going to live.
- Where will the site be hosted?
- If you want to stay with your current host, our team will need access to the server to configure the server properly.
- If switching to a new host, does the new host support the technology the new site will use?
- Are there any files or assets on the old web server that need to come over when the new site goes live (orphaned files, downloads, vanity URLs, etc.)?
- Who will be the main point of contact during the project for your organization?
- Who has the power to make decisions and approve project milestones?
- Have you assigned tasks to other team members from your organization to assist with the project?
- Do they understand their roles and responsibilities?
- How will you promote the site to your existing users and customers?
- We recommend budgeting for a sustained digital marketing effort after your site launches.
- Are you currently running any paid advertising campaigns?
- Do you currently have any landing pages for existing digital marketing campaigns that should be kept or converted?
- What is your average order value?
- We use this to help measure the effectiveness and ROI of our digital marketing efforts.
That is by no means everything, but it should give you a good foundation to begin your project on. And it will help you understand what you should consider before your next website project.
Did we forget anything? Let us know in the comments!