Before building a website we advise you to think about why you need a site, who your audience is, and what goals you want to achieve. We developed this website optimizer to help us understand your goals and wishes for your new website and to manage expectations.

Please fill out this optimizer for your project and take it to our first meeting! You will receive a copy of this information in your inbox.

*we will only use the (personal) information you fill out in this form to write a quote for your offer . We do not share this information with others, see for more information about how we handle your data our privacy statement.

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To tell us all your needs, wishes, and dreams for your brand-new website! You can fill it out in English or Dutch!

But first, tell us about you!  


Before starting to build your website, it’s important to think about why you would want a website in the first place and what to put on it. The following questions help you to think about these topics and serve as a solid foundation for the contents and design of your website.

Why do you want a website?

What do you want to achieve with your website? 

What is the primary purpose of the website?

Examples: facilitating collaboration between researchers, providing information for students / journalists, describing your expertise, reporting on a subsidized project, show the results of an investigation, inspire people to change their behavior.

Can you briefly describe the contents of the new website?

What do you need to be described on the website? When you do that, think about what will make it unique – what will set it apart? Tell us a bit more about your research or initiative, so we can help you reach your goals.

If there is an old website, what was good / bad about it?


Understanding your audience makes it much easier to make certain decisions about the content and the design and makes your website much more effective.

Who is your target audience (or audiences)?

For example: the general public, other scientists, funding bodies, decision makers. Be as specific as possible: where are they from, how old are they, and what is their education level?

What is the frustration or need of your audience that you will solve with your website?

A quick reminder: you're not making a website for yourself, you're making it for your audience! How can you help your audience reach their goals?

For example: they cannot find good credible information online about a certain topic, getting an overview of someone’s publications and books, they need to get in touch with a specific researcher, they are looking for specific research skills.

Call to action: what do you want a visitor to do when they visit your site?

For example: they should contact me for information, leave their email address for a newsletter, sign up for a conference, be convinced of my expertise, hire me.

DESIGN: look & feel of the website

We would love to know what you like and don't like so we can make you a design that you are proud to show to others.

Give three examples of websites that have a similar goal or content to your website?

For example the websites of your main competitors or collaborators. These do not need to be pretty, we just want to see what your peers or competitors do.

Can you give three (new) examples of websites that have a design you like? 

Websites that have a similar goal are not always the most beautiful examples (and you do not want to look anything like the competition)! We suggest looking at commercial websites for inspiration, search for "web design inspiration"on Google or see our collection on Pinterest. Explain for each web site what you like and dislike about it:

How adventurous are you?

Do you want a basic boring website, or are you excited about the development of a unique design that makes you stand out from the crowd? We love to work with researchers that understand our mission to make science sexy!

Is there a corporate identity that we must use for the website?

We can use any style guides, or design something in the general look and feel of your institution. 

Is there a corporate identity?


Let’s get building! Even though you might have no idea yet about what you need exactly, take a look at some features of typical websites and see whether you think you could use it on your site. Thinking about this early in the process helps you define a scope of work from which we can build a custom quote.

Be aware that that having more features on your website costs more money to build, so consider if it's a must-have or a nice-to-have!

Which pages do you need on your website?

Apart from standard pages with static information such as the homepage, about page, contact page, and privacy policy page.

We would like the following pages on our website:
What features should each profile page have?See for inspiration:
What features should each event page have?See for inspiration:
Who will be writing the blog?See for inspiration:

We know this is a long form to fill out!

So have a cup of coffee or tea before moving on. Just know that it's important to think about all these things before making a website, so there are no surprises afterwards. It also helps us to advise you in your choices.

How many pages do you think the website will have?

These are the number of main pages such as the homepage or about page which will each have a unique design. Blog or news pages don't count here.

The website will have this many pages:

Which features should the website have?

The website should have these features:

Do you have any other specific technical requirements?

For example, privacy or security requirements, or plugins/websites/tools that you already use and that you want to keep or integrate

Which (design) elements do you want us to develop?

We can build you a range of products to complement your website, but also teach you how to write better, design presentations, posters or infographics. So have a look at our workshops on science communication.

We would like The Online Scientist to develop the following design elements:

Do you have materials that can be used by us for the design?

What have you prepared that we can use to build the website?

We already have these materials:

When it comes to content and structure, which answer characterizes your situation?

About the content and structure of the site:

Regarding texts, how would you like to handle that?

About the texts:

Language of the website:

The main language of the website:

In the case of a multilingual site, do you provide the content yourself, or do you want to have the content translated professionally?

Providing translations:

How will people find your website?

How will people find your website?

If you want to be found easily, the right keywords are important. Do you already have a list of SEO terms?

Do you have a list of SEO terms?

Would you like social media integration for your website?

Would you like social media integration for your website?

Would you like to link an email address to the domain name?

Examples are or

Would you like to have an email address with your domain name?


A website is never finished. After you publish a website you have to update the software and plugins regularly to avoid security problems and crashes. The content also needs maintenance: is the team directory correct and are the addresses current? Is the content still up-to-date? Running a website takes time, planning ahead helps to prevent websites that have unnoticed technical problems, outdated content, and confusion about who does what.

Where do you want to host your website?

Where do you want to host your website?

Who is going to maintain the website, technically and in terms of content?

Think about changes to the website, technical updates, fixing of technical issues or crashes and updates to design and functionality.

Who is going to maintain the website, technically and in terms of content?


It’s good to know in advance what you can/want to spend on a website, as there are restrictions to what can be done for a certain budget. If the budget is a limiting factor, it’s good to know in advance so we can work out how we can make the best of the budget available.

Do you have a specific budget for this project?

A website does not have a fixed cost, the price depends on how many hours we need to help you achieve your goals. The larger the budget, the more effort we put into making it a unique experience. However, we understand that sometimes academic budgets are tight. We can work with a range of budgets and create a quote within your budget.

We can always work things out if you choose to work with us. However, if your choice for a (web) designer is based solely on the price, we're probably not the right partner for you. 

Do you have a specific budget for this project?We can advise you what is possible within your budget.

Costs for hosting and maintenance

Having a website costs money, starting at the basics like a domain name and hosting, but don’t forget the maintenance of the site and upkeep of the contents. We offer full-service hosting and maintenance packages if you do not want to worry about your website.

Does your budget account for the maintenance of the website?

How do you want to manage the website?

We always give you full rights to the website, so you can update texts and change the content yourself. This is EASY! We have a front-end editor in WordPress, so you see exactly what's being changed and even beginners can change texts without ever having to work with HTML or other code. This way you're flexible in maintaining the website without additional costs. However, if you don't feel comfortable with this, we can also deliver a fool-proof website, that's almost impossible to break. Let us know what your preference is (we can also give you different user roles for each team member). 

How comfortable are you with maintaining your own website?


How quickly (or when) should the website be finished?

We always meet our deadlines, but cannot guarantee we  do when there is a delay in your feedback or your input for the finalizing steps of the website.

Do you already have a website or domain name?

Website or domain

This is our (envisioned) domain name:

And finally ... When do you consider the website a success?

You will receive a copy of your answers via e-mail.
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About the Author: Liesbeth Smit

Liesbeth combines her knowledge of science communication, technology and design to explain difficult topics to a wide audience. You can use her practical tips immediately in your (poster) presentations to create a bigger impact. She developed dozens of websites, infographics and animated videos, and regularly gives workshops about design at The Online Scientist.

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