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Briefing a web dude, Part 1 - My Marketing ThingMy Marketing Thing

My Marketing Thing

Briefing a web dude, Part 1

web builder web developer web designer cartoon

Warning: I’m partial to calling website builders, website developers and website designers ‘web dudes’ (or ‘web dudettes’). I know they are different from each other…maybe it’s the hair? 

Apologies to any web specialists who happen to be reading this and find the term ‘web dude’ offensive. It is important to acknowledge that some web specialists have a very different sense of humour from normal people.


Why brief a web dude?

It’s the first step to getting a decent quote for a new website. The more information you give them, the less ambiguity the web dude suffers, the greater chance that the sun will shine, the birds will sing, and you’ll get the website you expect within the quoted amount and agreed timeframe.

You are also likely to receive better web support after the new site is launched – principally, because you’ll be one of the few clients who don’t have their photo displayed on the staff room dart board during the web building process.


Being half-baked means a sticky start

Too many people go to a web dude with a half-baked idea of what their business is. I’m not even talking about the website. I’m talking about what the website is supposed to be promoting.

You might have a name and an idea of a topic. Great. Do you have a logo? Do you have a tagline? Do you know who you want to reach? Do you know what you are actually selling????

And about that business name…are you sure about it? Have you tested it on those you want to reach?

Warning: A web dude doesn’t always make a good logo designer.
Also many web dudes are unlikely to grill you about the marketplace effectiveness of your core branding and product ideas.


If you need some extra info about core branding:

If you’re in the half-baked zone, consider first writing a marketing plan (I’ll be posting about that soon – so subscribe to ‘My Marketing Thing’ if you haven’t already and you’ll be in the loop!).

Then look at briefing a graphic designer to create your branding (someone who specialises in these things).

Then, by all means, trot off to the web dudes.

With all this said, some web dudes do have experienced logo/graphic designers on their team. Make sure you check out their logo portfolio before launching in, however.

Note: when wanting a quote for a new website, approach a few web dudes and compare quote results.


Okay, below are some lists of questions.

No, not just one list but…err…10 lists.

They are small lists. And each has a word like ‘stuff’ and ‘thingys’ in the sub-heading so they look less daunting (actually, you will find most of it pretty straightforward).

If you have a friend who is also looking to brief a web dude you can have a race to see who finishes the 10 lists of questions first. The person who comes second buys the winner a free ice cream. Scandinavian ice cream. No messing about here, the stakes are high.


1. About your business stuff

  1. What is your business name, tagline/slogan (if you have one) and logo (if you haven’t sorted this, stop and read the first part of this post again…off you go…)
  2. Where does your business operate from? (i.e. location of business, not surgical procedures)
  3. What products/services do you sell from this business? (serious tail between legs if you don’t know the answer to this one)
  4. How long has this business been in operation?
  5. What is the business structure (company, sole trader, how many employees, etc.)?
  6.  What is the vision for the future regarding this business (2/5/10 years)?
  7. Any significant affiliations / alliances with other businesses / associations / etc.?


2. About your target market thingys

  1. Who is your existing target market? (i.e. the people you want to reach regarding your services/products)
  2. Where are they (local, national, global – any particular geographic areas)?
  3. Do you want to change/add to your target market? If so, give details.


3. About your competition thingos

  1. Who are your competitors?
  2. What do you like about their websites?
  3. What don’t you like about their websites?


And don’t tell me you don’t ‘believe’ in competition – it’s just a word, not a negative fear-based state of mind. Knowing your competition is about finding out what other people in your field are up to so you can be clear that you WILL look as different and special as you are.

What’s the point in looking the same if you do different things?

You don’t have to be against your competition. You can even refer some of your business their way. You will be able to do this because you will KNOW what makes you different to them. Why? Because you’ve done a competition analysis as part of your marketing plan (yes, I’ll write a post about that soon!).

Contrary to popular opinion: knowing your competition can be a real love-in.


4. Your current website status hoopla

  1. Is this the first website for this business or a re-vamp?
  2. If a re-vamp – what’s right/wrong with the current site?


5. Content thing-a-me-jigs

  1. Do you want the web dude to also write content for you? (i.e. the text that appears on the pages on your site)
  2. Do you have any images that you think would work on the site? (if so, give details and the images)
  3. Do you want your web dude to find images/graphics for you via a photo library? (if so, give details)
  4. Do you have a business brochure (or any other existing promotional material) that you would like to work in sync with the website?
  5. What key descriptive words best describe your business (you might remember this from the post: Briefing your graphic designer) – e.g.: nurturing, secure, reliable, feminine, lush, hygienic, fun, creative, practical, resourceful, friendly, etc.
  6. What are the key messages of your business? (i.e. what do you do differently from your competition – there’s that word again – that will benefit the website visitor? How do they benefit?)


6. Some basic technical guff

  1. Do you want the ability to change your website content anytime? (of course you do – say ‘yes’! You’ll be saying yes to what is called a ‘CMS site’ – that means ‘content management system’)
  2. Do you want a XML sitemap? (say ‘yes’! – good for SEO/Google ranking – this is a page that shows the structure of the site and has each page heading as a hyperlink to the actual page, usually the link to ‘site map’ is found on the bar at the bottom of the home page)
  3. Do you want a contact form on your ‘contact page’ (say ‘yes’! – best not to have your email address on the site as it tends to attract spam), and request to have a spam code to go with the form
  4. Do you want Google Maps on your contact page (showing where you are located via Google Maps, helpful to visitor if you want them to visit you – and good for SEO to be on Google Maps, even if it doesn’t appear on your site)
  5. Do you want a video or audio introduction on your home page?
  6. Do you want to sell online? (if so give some details about what you want to sell), request a secure system
  7. Do you want a search facility? (visitor can type in a key word and the site will search for matches)
  8. Do you want drop down menus?
  9. Do you want a ‘hover state’ for for links, buttons, menu items (this is when your mouse is over a particular section, the section changes colour to indicate a hyperlink)
  10. Do you want the ability to add downloadable PDF documents to your pages? (I would say a ‘yes’ to this one)

7. Advertising hoo-haa

  1. Do you want to have a banner advertisements facility (put ads up on your site in header/down the right hand side, etc.)
  2. Do you want Google Adsense ad lists and/or Google Search Bar on your site? (income generation opportunity c/o Google)


8. Visitor subscription & membership low-down

  1. Do you want an e-newsletter subscription opt-in (where visitors can give their name, email address to subscribe to your e-newsletter)
  2. Do you want an RSS feed subscription button? (here is an explanation of RSS from About.com)
  3. Do you want membership creation and log-in option? (i.e. do you want members as part of your business?)

Note: Having technical gizmos like showing current date and time are usually reserved for large public sites. And visitor counters seem to be a thing of the past (though an auto-count for RSS subscription numbers are very, very ‘in’).


9. Visitor interaction hob-nob tools

  1. Do you want your site visitors to be able to comment on the content? (your ‘content’ meaning the images, text, videos, etc. that appear on your pages)
  2. Do you want a blog as part of your website?
  3. Do you want to create a forum on the site?
  4. Do you want a chat facility on the site?
  5. Do you want a visitor poll facility (voting)?


10. Some spiffy technical doo-wackies

The gizmos below might be of interest to you. You can ask for your web dude to quote them separately if you wish.

  1. Do you want a ‘print this page’ option for your site’s pages?
  2. Do you want an ‘Email this page’ option for your site’s pages?
  3. Do you want an option for the visitor to increase/decrease size of text on page?
  4. Do you want a favicon? (a tiny round icon – generally inspired by your logo – that appears next to your domain name in the browser bar)
  5. Do you want error handling? (an extra program that anticipates and/or codes technical errors when they happen – ask your web dude about how she/he approaches this)
  6. Do you want a breadcrumb trail (i.e. showing the path the visitor has gone through your site, found at the top of the page – e.g: home / about / about Megan – useful for larger sites)


About search engine optimisation (SEO) services

Ask the web dude – nicely – if he/she could possibly:

  • pop into your site a XML site map (as mentioned in #6.2)
  • add Google Analytics Statistical Reporting (so you know who’s visiting your site and when)
  • submit your site (once done) to the key search engines, like Google and Yahoo, etc.


Additional services web dudes tend to offer:

  1. Domain name registration
    That’s your actual website address – e.g. www.mymarketingthing.com. No one can ‘buy’ a domain name. We can only rent them, so to speak. You can rent your domain name from plenty of people out there, not just your web dude. Do some window shopping first.
  2. Website hosting
    That’s the thing that keeps your website ‘live’ – usually a monthly fee, some have yearly packages. Speed, size and security are all important in the hosting game. Reliability is vital – ensure your host has a multiple back-up service in case anything goes wrong with the main servers. Downtime should be kept to a minimum.

Hourly rate & support packages

The web dude will give you a quote for building the site, but it’s handy to also know the standard hourly rate if you need any extras done afterwards.

Also ask if they have any technical support packages (usually an amount charged per month or year covering a standard amount of hours).


When do you want the site?

Of course it’s important to also indicate to your web dude the preferred launch date of your new site.

Give your web dude your site map

In order to clarify and speed up the quoting/building process, you will also want to offer your web dude a site map of your proposed site.

‘What’s a site map?’ you ask.

I’ve already mentioned site map above in #6.2. Don’t you remember??? Actually, what I’m suggesting here is slightly different.

‘How different?’ you ask.

Well, to find out, you’re just going to have ‘tune in’ to the next post!


Oh, and I’ll tell you about placeholders (‘we are under construction’ pages) and why a ‘splash’ page is making less of a splash these days. 

And later, I’m going to give you a few key tips to website design that will also make life easier for web dudes – well, ones that are worth their salt.

And some more simple SEO bibs and bobs.

So many fabulous tips to come…your new site is going to be soooo great!

This post was written by Megan Hills.  Megan is a writer, cartoonist, marketing consultant and website dude Tinkerbell.  Find out more about Megan.



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