What To Include In Your Website Discovery Questionnaire

Use a client intake form or discovery questionnaire to gather information from clients and get a list of questions to ask in your website discovery questionnaire.

Occasionally, you’ll hear business owners and freelancers refer to the discovery questionnaire as a tool to gather information from a prospective client before a sales call. It stems from the popularity of calling a free consultation a discovery session. Web designers and web developers often use discovery questionnaires to gather information from clients about their business, brand, customers, and objectives, as well as preferences, features, and details about their project. I do the same thing… but I do it a little differently.

This may sound harsh, but I don’t care about a prospective client’s mission statement, why, brand colors and typefaces, ideal clients, or specific type of opt-in offer when they haven’t yet hired me. None of that matters BEFORE they sign a contract. What matters before they sign a contract is determining the scope of work and gathering project details like budget, timeline, and requirements. I gather those details on my website in an inquiry form.

After a prospect has signed a contract and invested in my time, they become a priority. That’s when I dig into their business and brand. That’s when I need to do discovery to fully understand the business the brand and website I create will represent and embody. During discovery, I use a discovery questionnaire, also called a client intake form. While this form doesn’t replace the need to do brand research or market research, it gathers important information from the perspective of the client, helps them gain clarity about the project, and delves into their thoughts, beliefs, and desires, and often uncovers things they may not have told you or said out loud.

Two Parts Of A Discovery Questionnaire

My typical discovery questionnaire is divided in two parts:

  1. Brand Discovery
  2. Website Discovery

Brand discovery is focused on the heart and emotions of the business and is more personal. It requires the client to open up about their mission, vision, big why, the work they do, the clients and customers they serve, and their reputation and values, as well as more tangible items like their color palette, typography, and sites they love.

Website discovery is focused on the logical part of the business and the destination the client wants to reach. It asks the client about their business operations, website feature requirements, how they want things to work, and what actions they want visitors to take, and asks for examples of sites that have similar features.

Not sure what to include in the discovery questionnaire for your web design business? No problem! I’ve got you covered with examples of basic questions you should be asking clients before you get started.

Brand Discovery Questions

Here is a list of things to include and questions to ask in the discovery questionnaire that are specific to the client’s brand and business:

  • Client’s complete contact information
  • Contact information for other team members you’ll be interacting with
  • Should anyone be CC’d on the emails?
  • What type of business do you own? What do you do?
  • Why did you start your business? How did you get to where you are? What is your story?
  • What is your purpose and mission?
  • Who do you serve? Describe your ideal client. What are they like? What are they passionate about? What do they dream of or what to achieve?
  • What are the top three pain points, challenges, frustrations, struggles your ideal client has?
  • What do you offer that addresses/solves the pain points, challenges, frustrations, struggles listed above?
  • How are you different from anyone else who does what you do? What is unique about you, your business, your services, products, and programs, your background, or even the way you work?
  • What is the one thing you want to be known for? What reputation are you building?
  • What are your top five core values? And the top values of your ideal clients?
  • What type of experience do you want people to have when they interact with your brand? What do you want others to say about your brand when telling friends about you?
  • Who are your main competitors, or people who are doing what you want to do, and in your eyes, doing it right? Please provide names and websites.
  • Are there any brand materials already in existence that we need to match or coordinate with? Any colors, typefaces we must use? Do you have any requirements for your visual brand design?
  • Are there any sensitivities we should be aware of about your brand, industry, market, or audience? (Things to avoid or be careful of, colors that are frowned upon, imagery that is taboo or overused, etc.)
  • Is there anything specific you want in terms of how your brand is presented visually?
  • Is there anything you dislike, can’t stand, or definitely don’t want in terms of the design?
  • Are there any special requirements we need to know about?

Website Discovery Questions

Here is a list of questions to ask in the discovery questionnaire specific to the client’s website:

  • What is the overall goal of your website? Why are we doing this project together? What do you want to see happen as a result of creating your new website?
  • If you have a current website, what do you like about it, what’s working?
  • If you have a current website, what do you NOT LIKE about it, What’s NOT working?
  • How do you want visitors to feel when they discover/visit your site for the first time?
  • Are there specific pages you already know must be included in the navigation menu?
  • What actions do you want visitors to take on your site? Subscribe? Register? Signup? Buy? Is there more than one? Which is the most important?
  • Are you including an email marketing opt-in? If so, will you be providing a free gift or opt-in offer? Do you know what the free gift or offer will be?
  • How will you be using the site for your business and marketing?
  • Will you be blogging on the site?
  • Is there anything specific that you know must be included in your website?
  • Will you be including any forms on your website (contact form, intake form, booking form, speaking form, etc.)?
  • What are your hopes for the website in the future? When you think about your business in 3-5 years, what will your website need to do to support your business?
  • Please provide links to websites that you love, not just in design and look and feel, but in flow and layout. They do not have to be in your industry or for similar businesses.
  • Please provide links to websites that have features similar to those that you’re looking for or want to implement on your website.
  • Do you have any questions for us?

Want More Resources Like This?

If you love done-for-you scripts, templates, tools, and emails, and you want to skip years of trial and error and accelerate your success, check out my business course for designers and developers called Profitable Project Plan.

Profitable Project Plan provides everything you need to to communicate with, educate, and manage your website clients from initial sales call to the post launch follow up. It includes live training and Q&A on getting paid on time every time, generating a consistent stream of lucrative leads, boosting recurring revenue, and helping clients navigate the development of their brand. What’s even better is that every training comes with detailed handbooks and resources you can customize and use in your own business right away.

Some links used on this site are “affiliate links.” If you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

About Jennifer Bourn

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Bourn is founding partner at Bourn Creative, a full service design and development company specializing in WordPress. With twenty years in the industry under her belt, she is an award-winning designer who consults on branding, website strategy, and content strategy. Jennifer speaks often, delivering workshops and keynote presentations, blogs about food and travel at Inspired Imperfection, co-organizes the Sacramento WordPress Meetup and WordCamp Sacramento, and writes often for other websites on freelancing, client services, blogging, marketing, websites, and branding.

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