Website Design and Development: 100 Questions to Ask Before Building a Website is a new book by George Plumley. It’s one of those books that I’d like to offer to clients.
Since I have, this morning, had several people tell me that I was making them feel as though their head was about to explode, I’m not going to offer this to anyone in the physical world. However, I’d like to recommend it to you. You can get it for your Kindle, but I’d suggest the physical book so you can have the DVD as well.
When we build websites for clients, we ask them some very basic questions: “What do you want people to do when they come to your website?” “Can you tell us about some websites that you like or dislike?” “Do you own your domain name?” Stuff like that. Then we do research and make suggestions.
But Plumley has collected 100 questions that bear thinking about before you have your site built, and reading through them will give you a lot more information and ideas than most of our clients have when we first meet them.
Some of the questions are definitely things you should think about if you’re getting online for the first time:
- Will you be selling online?
- Will you be collecting sensitive visitor information on your site?
- Do you need an e-mail account?
Some of them are questions for the designer, or preferably questions that your designer will be able to answer very quickly, often with “Heck, no!”
- Will your HTML be bloated?
- Will your site use a splash page?
or, of course, “Heck, yes!”
- Will the HTML code for your site be search engine friendly?
- Will your nontext files use the proper file types?
- Will your site load quickly?
Some questions are clearly rhetorical, more an introduction to the info than something you should mull over:
- How much should you be paying for web hosting?
- Will the design of your site support your content or distract from it?
But many more may be things that you feel concerned about and don’t know how to ask, things you need to contemplate for a while before you choose a designer, or things you’ve heard about and think you might need to know.
Each question has a clear, non-technical answer, screen shots illustrating the points, and tips on two or three well-organized pages. Many have even more explanation and screen shots on the accompanying DVD, which is pleasant to watch and clear.
This book is not intended to teach you to build, to host, or to write your own website. The assumption is that you’re working with professionals, which is the smart choice for a business site. It will, however, help you determine what you can do for yourself, what kinds of professionals you need, and what they should be able to do for you. It will help you clarify for yourself what sort of site you want and give you the terminology you need to discuss that with your web pros.It will also give you a starting point for your ongoing site maintenance.
Sometimes when we talk with new clients, it feels as though they think making a website is essentially the same as uploading a picture at Facebook. That’s not a problem for us, but you might feel more comfortable if you have a bit more of an idea of what’s involved.
Overall, this is a useful book, and an enjoyable read. You can learn what you want to learn, and skip any parts that make your head feel as though it’s about to explode.