What to ask a prospective client

Just curious what people think are the key questions you would ask a prospective client to get the best sense of what they’re looking for.
In particular, I’m thinking about those who know they want a site but might not know exactly what they want (i.e. features and functions, etc).

  1. Ask them to find websites they like, then use ideas from those sites.
  2. Find out the colors they want.
  3. Get a logo digitally (will help with colors)
  4. Ask them if they want you to do all of the updating or want to do some themselves (CMS). If they want a CMS, work in a higher price.
  5. Ask them the number of pages and what the content of each should be like (text, graphics, images etc.)
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I’ve used a good old fashion questionnaire type sheet in the past. Has helped with some clients.

Agree with the points @zeebe mentioned earlier, but would also add these points also.

  • What does a BAD site look like in their mind? Think one mans music is another mans noise.

  • What do they want the site to do? Do they want to sell something or be a showcase for something else etc etc?
    What social integration do they want? If they haven’t thought about that at this stage that could be another opportunity for you to sell them a social media service also.

  • What are there plans for the site over the next 1yr 3yrs 5yrs?

  • Do they have a physical location e.g. shop/club/restaurant, coffee shop etc and if so how will the site work with it and how will their physical location work with the site?

  • Who is providing the written and image content? Is it from a supplier or an existing site? Or will you have to write it, find it yourself?

There is more to ask but for now that could be enough to get a second round of conversations going.

If you need something more shout up happy to help.


Thanks @zeebe and @Chrisfrench, those are all very useful!

Very good comments. I can also add: Do not reference your great work with sites that are not complete or do not work properly.
If the prospective client has a site,
– ask: what they like and what they would change if they could.
– ask if there is a reason for things you think you could improve (improvement in your mind, testing their idea of the word)
– Don’t say “I can make it more professional”
– Ask why they have flash or automatic music
– Ask what they think of different ideas
– Ask they to look at your own site and tell you what they think
– as mentioned, ask how often they need to update

I’ve been writing my own sites for 16 years because no one has satisfied me with their thoughts, proposals, or answers to questions like these. We’ve never even gotten close enough to get a quote.


Some questions to ask about forms and carts