Web Design Questionnaires, Project Sheets and Work Sheets

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It’s nearly impossible to provide an accurate quote to a prospective Web design client without first gathering information about what that particular client needs. Some designers do this in either a face-to-face meeting or over the phone, but more often, they have a questionnaire that prospective clients fill out. This is preferable for a couple of reasons; the most important, is probably that this document then becomes an integral part of the design process and is available to refer back to.

So the question is, whether you should put that questionnaire up on your website or only send it to prospective clients once they’ve contacted you. There are a couple of reasons you may want to make it available online, but the obvious one is that clients are often eager to get started with their projects; providing the questionnaire online eliminates a step in the pre-contract part of the process.

Here, we’ve collected questionnaires and worksheets used by actual Web design companies, including some of the leaders in the industry. Both online and downloadable forms are included, as well as the pros and cons for each format.

Downloadable Questionnaires

While online forms are certainly popular, so are downloadable questionnaires. These are generally either PDFs or DOC format, though some firms also include versions in RTF or for Pages. The downloadable questionnaires are sometimes longer than their online counterparts, and are usually the choice for agencies that only take on longer and more complex projects.

We Are Pixel8

1

We Are Pixel82 has a planner in PDF format that they ask their prospective clients to download and fill out, and then upload to their website along with their contact form. It’s a great way to gather client information without requiring them to just fill out a Web form, which presumably lets them take more time with their answers. The instructions on the site are very clear as to how the process works.

Great Example Question: Please provide some information about the look and feel you would like for your website. You may also provide examples.

Happy Cog

3

Happy Cog4 also offers a downloadable project planner, which includes instructions for submission. It’s a good system, especially since Happy Cog projects are generally large projects with a wider scope than many other design firms handle.

Great Example Question: Are you familiar with the concept of Web standards?

Clearleft Ltd

5

Clearleft Ltd6 offers a Client Ideas Sheet that prospects can download and fill out in order to get a quote. It’s a simple RTF document, focused entirely on the content. It’s also quite extensive, with a few dozen questions included.

Great Example Question: What is your measure for success, and what are you hoping to achieve?

Lunamedia

7

Lunamedia8 has a client worksheet that includes sections asking about the company requesting the quote—about their customers and competition, and the scope, features, design ideas and requirements of the proposed project. The questionnaire can be downloaded from the Lunamedia website and then sent via e-mail when completed.

Great Example Question: Why do you believe website visitors should do business with you rather than with a competitor?

45royale Inc.

9

45royale Inc.10 offers a downloadable project planner that includes questions about the project goals, the look and feel of the proposed website, and general information. It also includes a section specifically for website redesigns.

Great Example Question: What action(s) should the user perform when visiting your website (search for information, sign up for an account, purchase a product/service)?

Erskine Design

Screenshot11

Erskine Design12 has a detailed project sheet that stretches over five, A4-pages. The questions cover the current website; reasons for redesign; audience, perception, content, technology and marketing. A more convenient (and shorter) Web form is available as well.

Great Example Question: How is your company currently perceived offline? Do you want to carry the same kind of message through your website?

DistinctionHQ

Screenshot13

DistinctionHQ14 has one of the shorter project briefs; it clearly states that all answers will be treated with completely confidentiality. The sheet also contains e-mail and phone details of the company and its logo, which can turn out to be useful in case the sheet gets lost in the shuffle.

Great Example Question: Are you providing all text/images for this project, or do you require copywriting and photography services?

Strawberrysoup

Screenshot15

Strawberrysoup16 allows customers to request a callback, but also has a project sheet and a design questionnaire that clients are asked to fill out. The agency gives customers a number of choices: they can send an e-mail, call the agency or submit the documents online.

Great Example Question: If you need a content management system, please describe the features you would like, e.g. updatable news, multiple authors, stock control, user moderation, etc.

Stuff and Nonsense

Screenshot17

Andy Clarke’s Stuff and Nonsense18 provides quite a lengthy work requisition sheet which is available in MS Word and in PDF. The tone of writing is very informal (“Go make a cuppa, read this through again to make sure you’ve covered everything you need, then e-mail it”) but inviting. All questions are broken down into nine categories: apart from general information about the proposed website, the questions cover the current website and its performance, reasons for the project, audience, perception, new content, technical staff and marketing. If the clients aren’t sure about something in the sheet, they are encouraged to call Andy Clarke directly.

Great Example Question: Which areas of your current website work well? Why is that?

Mark Boulton Design

Screenshot19

In the project planner on Mark Boulton Design20, potential clients are asked 15 questions. Notice the inviting tone and examples mentioned in the sheet; the agency does a good job of explaining why the questions are asked, and what kinds of answers are expected. Apart from general information, questions are asked regarding branding and design, as well as content and website management.

Great Example Question: When we design a brand, or website, it’s often more successful if we can place it within the current market. With that in mind, can you list your competitors? Please provide URL’s, or contact details for us to begin our research.

Duoh!

21

Duoh!22, the design firm of Veerle Pieters and Geert Leyseele, has a downloadable client questionnaire that asks about things like brand, audience, and the look and feel of the website. The questionnaire is available in both English and Dutch, and is one of the better visually designed questionnaires out there.

Great Example Question: How does this website figure into your business model?

Pros and Cons of Downloadable Questionnaires

Pros:

  • Often more user-friendly, especially for very large projects or projects where a team is involved.
  • The client will have a record of their answers for later reference.
  • The client can take their time in filling out the form.

Cons:

  • There’s potential that the formatting will be affected by different software versions.
  • Clients may skip parts of the form, leaving out vital information.
  • It’s adding an extra step, and making it possible that the client won’t ever come back to your website after downloading the form.

Online Questionnaires

A lot of Web design agencies have online questionnaires for prospective clients to fill out. Here are some nice examples of firms that use online forms to gather information about prospective clients and their projects. Be sure to click through, and take a look at what their questionnaires include.

Emtwo

23

Emtwo24 has an extensive questionnaire right on their website. What sets it apart is that each section collapses, making the form feel shorter than it actually is. This kind of design helps keep clients from feeling overwhelmed by an overly-long form.

Great Example Question: Why does your target audience need this website?

Studio 7 Designs

25

Studio 7 Designs26 has a short questionnaire on their website, including questions about the project timeline; why you want to work with Studio 7 Designs; and what your website competition is. A short form like this is often more likely to be filled out, though it’s also possible that prospective clients won’t take as much time with their responses as they might with a longer or downloadable form.

Great Example Question: Why do you want to work with Studio 7 Designs?

The Lab Studios

27

The Lab Studios28 has an interactive project planner on their website, consisting of nine steps—an interesting way of breaking up what would otherwise be a very long Web form.

Great Example Question: The Web can be a lot of things; some you may apply to your industry and requirements, others you may not. Tell us what you want to achieve with this website (increased sales, brand recognition) so we can suggest the best possible solutions.

Brian Hoff

29

The graphic design worksheet from Brian Hoff30 is simple and straightforward, and asks only the most pertinent questions—including asking for websites the client likes; what they like about their current website; and information about the target client base.

Great Example Question: What are your top three frustrations with your current website?

You Know Who

31

You Know Who32 has a Request for Proposal form directly on the website. The form is quite in-depth, and is necessary for the client to fill out in order to receive a full proposal. The form is then uploaded within the on-site questionnaire Web form. Clients can also upload any other documents they feel would be useful to the agency.

Great Example Question: Do you feel your current website promotes a favorable user experience?

Pros and Cons of Online Questionnaires

Pros:

  • Immediacy. Prospects can fill it out right then and there, reducing the risk that they won’t follow through.
  • Makes collecting answers easier.
  • Allows designers to require answers to certain questions that clients might otherwise leave unanswered (of course, there is no guarantee of the usefulness of those answers).

Cons:

  • Can be harder for a team to collaboratively fill out an online questionnaire.
  • Long Web forms can be a psychological turn-off to many people.
  • Risks that something will go wrong upon submission. Most clients won’t save their answers elsewhere, and may not bother to fill out the form again if anything goes wrong.

Improve Your Worksheet!

Now that you’ve had a look at real world examples of Web design questionnaires, it’s time to take a look at your own questionnaire. Look at the questions other designers are asking, and think about how they might improve your own process.

This doesn’t mean you need to ask all the questions other designers are asking; if you don’t see the point in a question, then you probably won’t find the answer helpful. But looking at these questionnaires will get you thinking in a new direction, and help you serve your clients better.

Further Resources

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Footnotes

  1. 1 http://www.wearepixel8.com/contact/request-quote/
  2. 2 http://www.wearepixel8.com/contact/request-quote/
  3. 3 http://happycog.com/contact/
  4. 4 http://happycog.com/contact/
  5. 5 http://clearleft.com/canhelp/
  6. 6 http://clearleft.com/canhelp/
  7. 7 http://www.lunamedia.co.uk/
  8. 8 http://www.lunamedia.co.uk/
  9. 9 http://www.45royale.com/contact/rfp/
  10. 10 http://www.45royale.com/contact/rfp/
  11. 11 http://erskinedesign.com/contact/
  12. 12 http://erskinedesign.com/contact/
  13. 13 http://www.distinctionhq.com/Contact
  14. 14 http://www.distinctionhq.com/Contact
  15. 15 http://www.strawberrysoup.co.uk/contact/
  16. 16 http://www.strawberrysoup.co.uk/contact/
  17. 17 http://stuffandnonsense.co.uk/company/contact
  18. 18 http://stuffandnonsense.co.uk/company/contact
  19. 19 http://www.markboultondesign.com/contact
  20. 20 http://www.markboultondesign.com/contact
  21. 21 http://www.duoh.com/contact
  22. 22 http://www.duoh.com/contact
  23. 23 http://www.emtwowebstudios.com/contact/worksheet
  24. 24 http://www.emtwowebstudios.com/contact/worksheet
  25. 25 http://www.studio7designs.com/contact-quote/
  26. 26 http://www.studio7designs.com/contact-quote/
  27. 27 http://www.thelab.net.au/projectplanner
  28. 28 http://www.thelab.net.au/projectplanner
  29. 29 http://bhoff.wufoo.com/forms/graphic-design-worksheet/
  30. 30 http://www.thedesigncubicle.com/
  31. 31 http://www.youknowwhodesign.com/rfp
  32. 32 http://www.youknowwhodesign.com/rfp
  33. 33 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/06/29/45-incredibly-useful-web-design-checklists-and-questionnaires/
  34. 34 http://garmahis.com/tips/web-design-questionnaire/
  35. 35 http://sixrevisions.com/productivity/create_web_design_questions/
  36. 36 http://freelanceswitch.com/finding/web-design-client-questionnaires/
  37. 37 http://www.1stwebdesigner.com/development/web-design-checklists/

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Cameron Chapman is a professional Web and graphic designer with over 6 years of experience. She writes for a number of blogs, including her own, Cameron Chapman On Writing. She’s also the author of The Smashing Idea Book: From Inspiration to Application.

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  1. 1

    Thank you for this article. I think such questionnaires and worksheet can help to get a first idea (order of magnitude) of what a client wants or serves as basis for a detail analysis. The other question is: Is it really what he needs? I’m working as a project manager in a large company and have to make sure the business units get the tools they need to do their job. In almost every project the “internal” client is having an idea of how it should looks like but after the first face to face meeting with him some of his ideas look not that beneficial any more but others become more important and new requirements are added. Personally I never would agree to a project just based on an on-line questionnaire unless you have a huge safety margin or the service you provide leaves little room for interpretation (scope creep).

    3
    • 2

      I agree with your comments. Although on the face of things these questionnaires appear to be useful I find that almost all of the time the customer really doesn’t know what they want or even understand what they’re being asked. It’s our job as IT Professionals to educate them and help them work that out and also to point out when they’re wrong, no matter how adamant they are!

      1
      • 3

        That is fine and dandy when the client WANTS to learn.”It’s our job as IT Professionals”…really? I beg to differ, it is their job to lean if they want to take their business online.
        Doctors are “health professionals” but there is still a country worth of obese people walking around despite being educated about health risks associated. So there you go, an educated client that is still failing.

        Reality is that most higher level mgt. thinks that Their ideas are the best and “they got there only due to their guts and business know-how”…and if they only knew “that code thingy” they would not even need you.
        They simply do NOT want to learn they just want their ideas realized “online” and you are their tool in doing so and more often an obstacle. This is 85% of old corporate and structured market.

        What these questionnaires are good at is the fact that they jar a potential client to think about their site and, hopefully, give you an idea if they gave any thought about their own business presence on the web. In short, they are an ice breaker but not a deal maker.

        6
  2. 4

    These type of questionnaires are absolutely essential to creating an accurate quote for your clients. I would also suggest that they should be constantly tweaked and updated, after all only a few short years ago Everybody wanted a flash header now the new it is JavaScript.
    We have just implemented a new form version of our questionnaire, people are welcome to scan it for ideas . http://cheekymonkeymedia.ca/get_started

    5
  3. 5

    Interesting to see that The Lab studios even used the same button style as our proposal planner ..guess we should be flattered!

    In all honesty we get a lot of people using the form but there is rarely enough to get started on a project – you would need a lot of further discussion or a full brief. It is useful to get chatting though. A combination of online and downloadable works best in my experience.

    1
  4. 6

    Thanks for this article. It’s very useful to see what other agencies and other freelancers do. I wonder if these questionnaires or design briefs work effectively.

    0
  5. 7

    Thank you so much for this article! I found this more helpful than any other article I’ve read on Smashing Magazine (not that the other articles aren’t good). I added so many questions to my client worksheet that I had no idea was missing.

    1
  6. 8

    I love how The Lab Studios has the step by step numbers at the top of the page. I like the idea of a questionnaire being web based rather than a downloadable worksheet

    -2
  7. 9

    Was just waiting for this…Thank you for this article!!!

    -6
  8. 10

    I’m not to sure about this… its nice to see what others do, but isn’t this a little to much into trade or even company secrets… Okay so yes they put them out on the internet, so technically its the fault of the agencies… but I think we are starting to loose the trade secrets that set one agency apart from another. I’m sorta disappointed in you smashing, I thought you where better then this.

    -32
  9. 11

    It really interesting becuase I have always puched against a pre-downloadable form becuase I think it removes a little bit of the personal touch that I like to give. I always like to face-to-face the first meeting to get a real ‘feel’ of a client. That said, it would be a good way to sort the ‘wheat from the chaff’ client wise.

    0
  10. 12

    I think these “worksheets” are as Steve McGrath said really just a sorting tool. If you have ever read any of them especially those from the really big companies (Happy Cog) they also state that our projects usually start at $xx dollars. I guess they can be used as a subliminal way to say “If you fill out this really really long form and have $30,000 handy you might be serious.”

    7
  11. 13

    All my clients come from Google, so meeting with them face to face is out of the question. They order through my site, receive a login, and fill out an online web form there.

    I deal with so many clients that the idea of having to sift through a hand-written user-uploaded form is a nightmare. I’m sure there would be a percentage of clients with terrible writing. I also think for most clients it would also be a pain having to print/scan/upload, or fax etc.. Perhaps if you’re dealing with higher end / higher paying clients, providing the *option* of completing a downloadable form would be fine, but I would still say never require it.

    Also, a few sites refer to it as a “Worksheet”? Haha, probably not a good term to use when you’re trying to recruit a potential client. Clients want an easy process, not a reminder of elementary school. ;-)

    5
  12. 14

    Think about the process. After takes few hour for visitor to fill this long form, ideally designer have to read and learn for several hours even days to make a custom proposal.
    After submit the proposal, possibility to get the project is below 50%. Imagine how many hours or days waste for this form. How many proposal we can submit for every month, how many project we got from these proposal and how many days we can work as a designer instead replying proposal.
    Should go find better and efficient way.

    2
  13. 15

    Thanks for including my site at Lunamedia!

    I can only speak from experience, and since asking potential clients to fill out a worksheet, I manage to get a much better idea of requirements in advance of providing an estimate for a site. If you are used to receiving one sentence, “How much is a website?” emails, you’ll know what I mean.

    I do believe it’s helpful for the client also – of course these people have their own businesses to run, and they need our expertise in providing focus for their web project – by suggesting the kind of questions they should be asking about their requirements anyway, I think this ultimately saves them time rather than being a chore. If I was about to hand over my hard-earned cash for a new website, I’d personally be happy the person building it wanted to know as much about my business as possible.

    It’s not a complete fact-gathering solution – I spend plenty of time on the phone and on writing emails – but I’ve found it really helps me get onto the same wavelength as the client as quickly as possible.

    2
  14. 16

    Just a comment about CSS.
    I work in this agency where they don’t care about css, or webstandards, my boss even asked today to make a website with tables rather than with “styles” because “old school web” is much better. I just feel really frustrated right now… Any comments?

    1
    • 17

      Adam Beizsley-Pycroft

      November 27, 2010 3:22 am

      Suggest your boss views sites in something other than IE6 and research whether your work violates disability laws in your country.

      Alternatively ignore him and do it in CSS anyway. If it takes longer, you’re doing it wrong!

      -1
    • 18

      Surely you’re using inline styles to format the content on the page? Try explaining to him that keeping all styles on a separate page is easier to manage, it’s quicker to make sitewide changes if a client changes their mind. After all, it’s all about giving the client what they want. A happy client is a client for life.

      It sounds like your boss isn’t a creative. Explain to him that by following standards, he can charge his clients more money for a premium/polished product. By all means, have a cheaper option with a quick dirty build, but make sure the option is there for an upsell to a nice standards compliant, seo friendly website; you’d be suprised how many people will spend that little bit extra for something that only takes a couple of extra hours to do. I’ve worked with people in the past who haven’t a clue about the processes behind creating a website, if you talk to them in money terms, they suddenly start paying attention. Something that was a pain suddenly becomes a ‘feature’ that they can then charge for.

      4
  15. 19

    Thanks for including our site, The Lab Studios.

    We have found that we can sort out the wheat from the chaff based solely on the responses received from our Project Planner. Users who put an answer in as many of the boxes show that they have really thought about why they need our services while some who just fill in their names let us know that these might be clients who could be potentially difficult to work with by not letting us know exactly what we want.

    We contact every person who uses our planner but its much easier to continue a dialogue started with our planner than to write back and say we need more information and asking the same questions over again to be able to give them a quote.

    1
    • 20

      The Lab Studios Project Planner is my favourite! I would be very happy if you could share with me how you created it!

      Thanks a million in advance.

      Sammet

      1
  16. 21

    Thanks for another great piece of information. Personally I just send out the Planner after a customer requests a quote. The planner has similar questions to examples in the article and it’s a good way to understand what a customer needs, why he needs it and what’s their goals. I’ve seen growing quality in our work and customer response after we created our first planner.

    0
  17. 22

    Mike Maddaloni - @thehotiron

    November 27, 2010 7:51 am

    We created a downloadable PDF checklist called “The State of Your Web Site” which is available for free, without having to submit any contact information, and is available here:

    http://www.thestateofyourwebsite.com/

    We chose a PDF document format so that all questions could be presented all at once, and that it could be held in hand while looking at your Web site. We chose to make it available for free without contact information as we often are asking these very same questions to prospects all the time, whether it leads to a project or not. As well, it gives us the ability to use the checklist in print or online format.

    Often people say, “my Web site sucks” but they have a hard time quantifying why, and such a checklist – plus the others presented – are helpful to the client to better understand what they need.

    mp/m

    3
  18. 23

    Great article but alors you are french ?

    -6
  19. 24

    I think these are great resources — they really give an idea of what kind of questions you need to be asking your potential clients right off the bat. You don’t have to make someone download them first, before contacting you, but this is all information you will need from them eventually. When I freelance (which isn’t often as it’s just something I do on the side at random times), I often try to remember what questions I need to be asking the client, so this helps.

    Though, for the Pixel8 questionnaire, you marked the “great example question” as “Please provide some information about the look and feel you would like for your website. You may also provide examples.” I actually think this is a really bad question to ask — this gives the client the impression that they are going to guide the look and feel of the site instead of the designer — I believe it sets the wrong tone for the relationship. The client is coming to you for the design, you need to put yourself in the position of authority regarding look and feel. You are the expert here, not the client.

    3
  20. 25

    Thanks for this informative article!
    I would also add w3-markup order form, which is divided to 3 clear sections – organizing usability and user experience.
    https://w3-markup.com/order

    0
  21. 26

    WOW !! A helpful article. Thanks.

    1
  22. 27

    I encouraged a small potential client to complete my company’s questionnaire, which I’ll be frank and admit to say was ‘based on’ Happy Cog’s.

    They ran a mile.

    0
    • 28

      If your client ran a mile when he saw the questionnaire, I think you have been saved from a potentially difficult client.

      It’s not down to Happy Cog’s questionnaire. :P

      0
  23. 29

    Nice article.

    I think that if you’re going to set up an online questionnaire, a good practice is to make it so that the client receives a copy of the answers as well to his/her email. That way, they can always go back to check out, what they actually asked for.

    Or at least provide an option to choose whether they wish to get a copy or not.

    2
  24. 30

    Cameron please can you change this picture showing you as if you have a neck problem.

    1
  25. 31

    Whether it’s an online form or a PDF form that you can download, I think it really makes a designers work much easier while also helping the client figure out exactly what they are looking for. It’s always great to have a brief to work to but I do remember numerous occasions where I was simply handed a business card and told to “be creative”! LOL! ;-)

    0
  26. 32

    This is exactly what I’ve been banging my head against the wall on for the last few months. Done a bunch of googling around for project sheets for web design and this article just got insta-bookmarked. Thanks for sharing guys!

    0
  27. 33

    I made my own client questionnaire with Illustrator and acrobat. It was pretty easy to make with form fields and works really well for clients. Even though it’s long (4 pages) they like having something to begin the project with.

    Here is the copy I use Client questionnaire 3pddesign: http://tinyurl.com/3462qgq

    2
  28. 34

    Here is our Client Briefing Document: http://dvize.com/website-brief/

    -1
  29. 35

    Excellent resources. I’m also sharing my Brand Profile questionnaire. Designers, feel free to use. Please at least remove my logo and contact formation. Cheers.

    0
  30. 36

    fantastic post — thanks so much for all this information!

    0
  31. 37

    Great post. I definitely plan on incorporating some these concepts into my own site. Also, there’s a way to have the client print out whatever they entered in an online form, before finally submitting, which they may find useful to keep handy and refer back to. Just a thought.

    2
  32. 38

    Great resource. Thanks!

    0
  33. 39

    Great, this is a really huge list. Any idea on which one is the best or at least closest for a website redesign project? Thanks!

    -1
  34. 40

    Great resource.

    However, you need to be careful not to ask too many questions, otherwise you’ll find yourself restricted to the answers provided without any room for creative freedom. Certain design related questions should be avoided for this very reason.

    Example: Do you have any color preferences?

    So it goes…

    -dp

    2
  35. 41

    thanks…

    1
  36. 42

    Wonderful resource. Thank you.

    0
  37. 43

    As a design firm we prefer to get as much information via a contact form rather than have PDF or DOC file the potential client would download. We find this helps us see how potential clients can communicate online since this is how 90% of communication will happen during the project.

    Example here: http://creativeslice.com/contact/rfp/

    1
  38. 44

    Years ago I started with a questionnaire and ended up with a whole website. You can check it out: http://www.webkalkulator.com/kostenrechner.asp. 40 Questions with 180 Answer should cover the main topics of a website production. The questionnaire is now part of our Benchmark System and it’s working: Every 4th visitor is doing it, so we have gathered so far over 30’000 Projects.

    0
  39. 45

    There is no doubt that the information gained through surveys and questionnaires can be extremely useful for a multitude of reasons. The trick is to create a survey that gets peoples attention and makes them actually want to fill it out. Check out a good survey at http://www.colibrisdesign.com/blog

    0
  40. 46

    Thank you for this list. It’ll help me a lot with my own project sheet for future clients.

    1
  41. 47

    Willem Shepherd

    June 23, 2013 5:11 pm

    Found this online form and survey creator recently, it’s amazing! We’ve started using it for all of our questionnaires, briefs, and pre/post project surveys.

    http://www.typeform.com/

    0
  42. 48

    Arndt von Lucadou

    July 8, 2013 7:44 pm

    Interesting that most of the downloadable questionnaires and also some of the online questionnaires have been removed form the sites featured in this article. Wonder why!

    0

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