Building a website without a plan is like constructing a building without blueprints. Planning your website ahead of time will give it clear direction as well as prevent missed deadlines and backtracking. If you are a business owner or employee of an organization, then this guide will help lay the groundwork for your coming website.
- Set your purpose and goals
It’s important to identify your website’s purpose, as well as your target audience. Set measurable, specific goals for your website that are in line with your marketing goals. An analytics tool like Google Analytics will allow you to monitor your website’s performance over time.
- Make a budget plan
Whether or not you’re an established, mid-sized organization or a fledgling start-up, you should always set a budget for your website expenses. This will probably include funds for web design, programming, and web hosting (though other expenses may apply). It’s better to choose team members based on experience, insightfulness, references, and examples of work.
- Appoint functions
Company stakeholders (owner, marketing manager, or whoever else offers a primary function of business)
Content writer and/or editor
Web and graphic designer
Make sure everyone on your team understands their role and what is expected of them, and they stay abreast of deadlines and new advancements.
- Create a content strategy
What sort of content will you be displaying on your website? Content is basically anything that gives your site visitors information. It can include but is not limited to:
Pictures (such as in a gallery)
Embedded social media sites feed (for example, your Twitter stream or Facebook page updates).
Your content strategy is the means that you intend to show your content over time. Since content is such a vital aspect of a website, bring in help if you need it.
- Structure your website
Choose what web pages you’ll be applying and what elements will be on each. Most websites have an About and Contact page, however, the pages you use should meet your business’ requirements.
- Produce a mock-up
A page mock-up, also know as a wireframe, is essentially the outline of your website (with the initial design being the initial draft). Generally created in Photoshop or Fireworks, you do not need to put a lot of detail into your mock-up. Use placeholder text to fill pages, and don’t worry about details. This is merely to give everybody a concept of what the website will appear like.
If you don’t have a design software, you can also outline it out with pen and paper! When you have a general feel of what you ‘d like, you can send it to a designer to build or do this yourself.
- Kickoff designing
Good website design includes both usability and aesthetics. An ugly website will drive away visitors, as will a website that’s difficult to navigate.
Make your navigation user-friendly and easy to discover. A study shows that most consumers expect website navigation to be vertical and centered at the top of the page.
Choose an easy-to-read font for blocks of text. Decide on a background color and text shade that contrast well (Hint: No red text on a hot pink background).
Make sure your site fits the screen. Use responsive design (or an equally effective approach) to make your website one that adjusts to all screen sizes.
Keep your website light to ensure that it loads promptly.
Make the company logo and tag line prominent on the page.
Keep styles and colors constant across the website.
Craft content clear and to the point, and put necessary information and elements (e.g., your newsletter sign-up form) above the fold.
Make notes about what to include in the style sheet as you design, because you need to keep style and function distinct. This is very important, not only to abide by web standards but to make it easier to change something later on if you have to.
You should really also design with the future in mind. For example, your website may only have a few blog posts now, but what about when you have two hundred?
- Analyze it out
Testing is important for getting out bugs out and catching details that you might have missed. Ensure your website shows up the way you wish it to in every browser, including Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, and mobile web browsers like Safari and Opera Mini. Test it on your mobile phone, your tablet, and your colleague’s mobile and tablets too. You want your site to have a consistent look no matter what screen it shows up on. Ensure each one of the links work, that the images are appropriately sized, and you’ve switched out all of the placeholders with actual content. Ensure that all of the forms and other keys in fields are functioning.
- Manage your site
Once your site is released, the work isn’t over. A website is an ongoing body that constantly stands for your organization, so maintenance is very important. Monitor your analytics software to see how your website is performing with consumers. Watch on metrics like your number of unique visitors, bounce rate, and what pages are most popular on your website. You might find those specific metrics are better to you than others, but that is information you’ll find out in time.
You should also have a plan for maintaining the website, including who is accountable for posting new content or monitoring site protection. And of course, get feedback from your users. Feedback is an important tool for improvement.
Planning a website ahead of time is just as important as planning anything else in business, yet this step often gets overlooked by those anxious to claim their piece of internet real estate. Making the effort to plan your website is a great investment, and it will more effectively your chances of having a completed product that serves you well for as long as you need it.
As soon as you are ready to plan your website, it’s time to get launched!