August 23, 2013
A Few Hard Questions and Why We Ask Them
By DineEngine

As professional designers, we ask our clients some hard questions. These are just a few of them.

Let’s start with the biggest one.

1. What is your budget?

When we receive an RFP (Request for Proposal) from a potential client, it will frequently include a budget range. These are usually from established companies with established departmental and project-based budgets. Startups and other small companies don’t always have that luxury, or even an expectation for what the budget for their project will be.

Once we understand the project requirements, we can usually come up with a ballpark estimate. Unfortunately, “anywhere between $10,000 and $100,000” isn’t very helpful for most clients, so we like to get an idea of how much the client has to spend up front.

Knowing our client’s budget helps us determine the best solutions for their project. The solutions for each price point look very different, and frequently even have different feature sets. Sometimes the market won’t settle for less than the $100,000 solution, but frequently the $10,000 solution creates the app that brings in the revenue to create the full solution.

For startups with little more than a great idea, we can use our planning process to define a small budget project, a large budget project, and the roadmap to grow between the two. It will just take a little longer than a project with a pre-defined budget.

2. Who is your target audience?

As tempting as it is to say, your target audience can’t be “everyone”. Your potential audience could be “everyone”, but you can’t focus on meeting everyone’s needs.

Choosing a target audience provides much needed focus for a project. It doesn’t mean you turn away users who aren’t in your target audience. It just means you focus on who needs your product or service and who is most likely to pay for it. Then, we design solutions to meet that audience’s needs.

Some early stage apps only define their audience after they launch. It takes a little longer, but we can implement the analytics required to help narrow the target audience after the launch.

3. What are your goals?

For many clients, this is an easy question. They have goals and a few good ideas about how to achieve them. For many others, the conversation goes a little like this:

“We’d like a new website.”

“What do you hope to accomplish with your new website?”


At this point, we can slap a fresh coat of paint on the website and collect our payment, but then we start feeling more like stylists than designers and the client starts wondering why their beautiful new site isn’t helping their business.

We love our clients. We want to be partners in their continued success for many years to come, so the work we do has to be meaningful. Once we understand their goals, we can design solutions that meet those goals.

A few common goals for a startup’s website:

  • Lead Generation
  • Increase Product Sales or Service Registrations
  • Increase App Downloads
  • Brand Building
  • Etc.

Goals are not exclusive. Most sites have more than one. If you know what your goals are, we can help design a solution to meet those goals. If you’re unclear about what your goals are, we can help you define them.
To be continued…


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