Building a website without a plan is like building a house without a blueprint. Planning a website is just as important as creating one, if not, things will end up getting mismatched or you might end up having a website you don’t like or one that is useless.
Planning your website ahead of time will give you a clear direction as well as save you time in getting what you want. What then is website planning?
This is a strategic phase that allows web teams to uncover the needs, brand information, audience demographics and the core purpose of a site in order to build a solid foundation upon which the site’s “look and feel” (colors and fonts) can be applied.
As much as it is important to have a site, it is much more important to have one that communicates the idea and purpose of the website. To get these ideas and purpose in place, planning before building is necessary and very important.
1. Identify Your Purpose and Goals
It’s important to identify your website’s purpose. Is it to gain publicity for your company or business? Is it to sell your goods or service? It is also very important to identify your goals for the site. What do you want to achieve through the website? How many visitors do you expect per month? How much in sales do you expect to make? Set measurable, specific goals for your website.
Additionally, identify your target audience. Creating user personas is an invaluable exercise that will help you see things through your customers’ eyes, and ensure that you are addressing their needs effectively.
2. Choose a Suitable Brand
Brand is the visual identity of your business. A brand is a symbol, mark, logo, name, word, and/or sentence that companies use to distinguish their product from others. The value of an established visual identity or brand in the creation of a quality website cannot be over emphasized. At minimum, a brand should include (professional) logo and color palette.
3. Choose a Domain Name
Domain name is the address of your website that people type in the browser URL bar to visit your website. The time to choose your domain name is during the planning stage, not after the site has been built.
Choose the shortest, most easily pronounceable name you can find. Also bear in mind the keywords related to your business or the services you are providing. Endeavor to integrate these keywords into your domain name or better still on the pages of your site. This will help boost your SEO ranking.
4. Set a Budget.
These include funds for web design, programming, and web hosting as well as marketing. Research the market and consult with professionals. Don’t just compare prices alone, it’s better to choose team members based on experience, insightfulness, references, and examples of work.
5. Identify and assign roles
There is a need to identify and assign specific roles to everyone on your team, ensuring that everyone knows their roles and keep to deadlines.
- Company stakeholders (owner, marketing manager)
- Web developer
- Content writer/editor
- HTML/CSS professional
- Web and graphic designer
6. Web Content
Web content is anything that is encountered as part of the user experience on websites. You have to plan a strategy on the content your users will see on your website. These includes but not limited to;
- Blog posts (List Posts, Quizzes, “Why” Posts, “How to” Posts)
- Embedded social media feeds
Bear in mind that content will either keep your user or send them away. It is important to have topnotch contents on a website. Bring in help if you need it, hire a writer who is experienced with writing for the web, and invest in some professional looking pictures of your storefront and employees.
7. Develop a Sitemap
A site map is a list of pages of a web site within a domain. As you start to determine what kind of content you want on the site, you can start to plan how you want the website to be laid out. What kind and how many web pages the website would have. The pages do not have to be plenty, what is important is how relevant they are to your objectives and to your users.
8. Concepts of Usability
An ugly website can drive away visitors, so can a website that is difficult to navigate. It is important to keep in mind some basic concept of usability.
- Make your navigation easy to understand and easy to find.
- Use an easy-to-read font for blocks of text as well as a background color and text color that contrast well
- Don’t use heavy sized content on your site for it to load quickly.
- Make the logo and tagline standout on each page
- Build with the future in mind. You might need to add more pages in the future
9. Build and Test
As you start building your site, testing is very important to take out bugs and to catch details that you might have missed. Before you put all the elements together and publish your new website, ask team members and other employees to access the site to make sure all the links work, the page elements sit on the page correctly when the browser is resized, check for typographical errors and overall functionality.
10. Launch and Maintain your Site
Once the site is launched, the building process is over but it’s very important to maintain the site. Make sure you get analytic software installed such as Semrush Analytics or Google Analytics that will show you the progress of the web site, how your website is performing with the public.
You should also get someone who is responsible for posting new content or monitoring site security. Get feedback from your users as well. Feedback is a valuable tool for improvement.
Taking the time to plan your website is of great importance, but a lot of people tend to overlook this stage. Planning a website before building will better you chances of having a finished product that serves you well and guaranty the satisfaction that you so desire.