For the final three parts of this ten part series, you get my client Revelation Worksheet.  Developed over years of building sites for clients, this list helps turn end-of-project surprises into meaningful discussion to catch issues at the beginning.

The checklist comes in four parts:

  1. Branding and Purpose
  2. Website Logistics
  3. Presentation
  4. Project Management

We’ll start with #1: Branding and Purpose as it drives almost everything else

Here’s the intro speaking to the client as “you”:

A web site works late at night, early in the morning and all alone. You can’t be there to explain to a user where to look or what things mean, so the site itself must communicate all of that on its own. While “brand” is often seen as just logos and advertising, it really suffuses everything from those two items to what product or service you offer; how you talk about yourself, how the site moves to the user’s touch and the imagery you pair with all of that. Meditate on the following questions before answering.

If you are just starting your business, provide answers according to what you believe. For established business, include “I know this because…” with each response.  In an email or other document, simply place the number of the question in front of your answer. If it feels like you’ll to need write a book to answer a question, just place some notes to remind us of what you were thinking. (Typically, then, you (the site developer/designer) will want to address those notes in an in-person conversation.)

Let’s begin:

  1. The target market is the group of people or companies that – if you can find them and properly communicate your message to them – they have the money and the desire or need to purchase your product and consume it with satisfaction more than once at the most profit to you. The next circle out may fail one of those tests (not as much profit, for instance), but is still likely to be a customer. You may have two different markets – Who is your Target Market?
  2. Do you have a secondary target market(s)?
  3. Do markets exist commonly associated with your product or service that are not productive (profitable) to service?
  4. People use a language unique to each product or service they buy with satisfaction. These key words or phrases tell you they are happy with the product or service they bought from you and usually come from repeat customers. Example for a pool cleaning service: “reliable”; “takes the worry out”; “hardly know you’re here.” Example for a restaurant: “my connection”; “best place for my family”; “easy to make a reservation”; “made me want to visit.” List four keywords or phrases that your happy customers use.
  5. List the top three complaints that dissatisfied customers have registered with you. Avoid unclear statements like “Not Happy” or “This is bad.”
  6. What is the one sentence statement you make when asked to describe your business. No dependent clauses, please.
  7. What is the most typical misconception people form when they hear your one sentence description of your business?
  8. How often per year does your target market purchase from you? How often do those in the secondary markets purchase? How do you compare in that measure with your nearest competitors?
  9. List your top three competitors, including “doing nothing” if that outranks your fourth competitor.
  10. What do you admire about each company above?
  11. What is/are your unique competitive edge(s) within your sphere of competitors? (In order if you have more than one.)
  12. How would you describe the industry you’re in? (Include NAICS or SIC code if you know them.)
  13. How are you positioned for price within your industry? (lowest, highest, etc.)
  14. Reputation is the residual thought image and sense that a person retains upon exposure to your business. How would you describe the reputation of your company? What would you like it to be?
  15. There are angry old men, party animals, formal and shy persons. How would you describe the personality of your company? This is much different than reputation or of any one person in the firm. How is it now and what if anything would you change about it?
  16. Are there any images or words that you know you do not want associated with your brand? Think “Madmen” and the struggle the cigarette advertisers went through when they could no longer make claims of improved health from smoking but didn’t want to go with “Everybody dies, might as well enjoy your Lucky Strikes while you can.”
  17. The McDonald’s burger chain is in the service business; the railroads lost business because they thought of themselves as in the railroad business instead of the transportation business. What business are you really in?
  18. What’s your favorite and least favorite color?
  19. When the company connects to customers, what’s the biggest disadvantage you must manage to make the contact successful?
  20. Should your brand be a “household” term or a “boardroom” term? Why?

Spend some quality due diligence on these questions to start and everything gets easier downstream.