Your website design is an extension of you and your business

When a potential client approaches me about working together, the first thing I do is send out a questionnaire to get a sense of what the vision is for the website. The questionnaire includes practical questions about which features are needed, such as a blog, a calendar, a newsletter, and so on. But it also includes questions that elicit more thoughtful responses about what the personality of the business is and how the website will support that.

An image from my own website, kerryathompson.com, that incorporates the personality I wanted to convey for my business: Friendly, Informative, Approachable

An image from my own website, kerryathompson.com, that incorporates the personality I wanted to convey for my business: Friendly, Informative, Approachable

These three questions on my questionnaire help a client define the business mission and brand and also help me get a sense of how the design of the website – with its typefaces, images, colors, and layout – will support that definition:

  1. Choose three or four words that you want your customers to associate with you and your business.

    Professional • Reliable • Creative • Trustworthy • Economical • Qualified • No-nonsense • Dependable • Experienced • Friendly • Relaxed • Knowledgable • Fast • Thorough • Down-to-earth • Discreet • Careful • Specialist • Innovative • Authoritative • Flexible • Healing • Complete • Restful •  Educational • Mystical • Artistic • Spiritual • Restorative • Fun • Busy • Rustic • Vibrant • Active • Environmental • Scenic • Social • Organic • Natural • Thoughtful • Collaborative • Musical • Luxurious • Urban • Minimalist • Safe • Transformative • Indulgent • Pragmatic • Inspirational • Other words not on the list _______

  2. Choose three or four words that describe how you want customers to feel after they visit your website.
    Enthusiastic • Reassured • Informed • Decisive • Relaxed • Determined • Excited • Prepared •  Confident • Secure • Other words not on the list _____________

  3. Choose three or four words that describe the "personality" you want for your website.
    Elegant • Sharp • Calming • Colorful • Interactive • Professional • Artistic • Bustling • Smooth • Friendly • Restful • Educational • Fun • Informative • Musical • Experienced • Detailed • Approachable • Reassuring • Sweet • Quiet • Intellectual • Down-to-earth • Youthful •  Spiritual • Other words not on the list _____________

The answers to those three questions give me a pretty good idea of what kind of design, content, images, and colors will support the client's ideas. As the design work progresses, I check back to those answers to make sure we're still in alignment with the original intentions.

This blog post from Weebly, "Create a Website with Brand Values in Mind," goes into even more detail about how words, typefaces, colors, and images used in your website and other social media and online marketing affect how customers see your business. I've picked up a few more pointers that I'll be thinking about as I get started with new clients.