Website Discovery Brief


Before you begin building your website, take a step back to answer some fundamental questions, and develop a strategy to guide the process. To help you answer these questions and develop a strategic approach, we encourage you to use this website discovery brief.

The brief includes a series of prompts to help you think through the website planning process. Completing the Web Discovery Brief will result in a strategic framework you can use as a guide while working on your website.

Website Goals

  1. What are the reasons for considering a website or redesign of your website?
  2. What are your top five objectives for the new website?
  3. How does the website fit in with your communication goals? How do you think you can leverage the website to achieve these goals? (For example, how will the site help enroll new students, encourage donors, etc).     

Website Audience

  1. Who are your current primary and secondary audiences? Can you rank them in size and importance to you?
  2. Are there any external audiences that should be part of this communication channel? (For example, parents, alumni). If so, what information do you want to provide to them?
  3. What are the top three things you want each key audience to do or find on the website? For instance, get informed, find a list services or offerings, support operational activities, enable/support community activities, add or view events, sign up for email newsletters.

Branding and Design

  1. Are you familiar with the branding guidelines for your organization as defined by Institute Communications? Review the Brand Guide now.
  2. How does your audience currently perceive you? 
  3. How do you wish for audiences to perceive you in future? 
  4. What is the single most important message you want to get across to your audience?
  5. List any five peer websites you like in terms of visual design and that you would like to use as a benchmark.
    1. __________________
    2. __________________
    3. __________________
    4. __________________
    5. __________________

Content and Functionality

  1. List any five sites that you like in terms of content and functionality. Which functionality or content do you like, and why?
    1. __________________
    2. __________________
    3. __________________
    4. __________________
    5. __________________
  2. What content/functionality has been successful in your current website? Why is it considered successful?  
  3. What content/functionality has NOT been successful in your current website? Why?  
  4. What content would you like on the website?
  5. What features and functionality would you like on the site?     


  1. Where is your site currently hosted? What type of hosting do you have? Is this the hosting you would like to use in the future?
  2. Does your site connect to a database? Please describe the type of database, stored information, and requirements.
  3. Is there any technology (software, content management, site analytics/metrics tools, other) on your current site that must be retained? Please describe in detail.
  4. Does your site require any external sites, systems, or software to operate? For instance, does it connect to a database, interact with an external e-commerce system, pull in content from an external RSS feed? Please describe.

Ongoing Maintenance

  1. Who is responsible for the site’s strategic direction, producing its content, and updating it after launch?
  2. How frequently do you plan to or want to update your website's content?
  3. Who is responsible for applying updates to your website's security and modules on an ongoing basis?

Website Marketing and Analytics

  1. Do you currently have site metrics or analytics detailing how many visitors come to the site, what pages they visit, etc? 
  2. How do you currently market the website? What are your plans to market the site in the future?
  3. How do you currently conduct outreach to your audiences that would drive them to the website?
  4. Do you maintain or participate in any other external sites that will drive traffic to or interact with this website?