If you’re building a new website for your business you can save yourself some time and hassle by doing a bit of planning first. Don’t just dive straight in and start building.
Instead, there are some important aspects that you need to consider. And don’t worry this part of the process doesn’t have to be long or labour intensive. Even the simplest of plans can help you to get your website off to a good start.
In this guide, we’re going to take a look at 8 steps you can take when planning your new website to ensure you create a site that delivers.
Create an audience persona
It’s a good idea to start by creating an audience persona (sometimes known as a buyer persona). This can help you to think about the wants and needs of your visitors rather than your own and tailor your website accordingly. This will help to offer the best possible experience for your target audience.
Do some competitor research
Checking out what your competitors are doing can be a great source of inspiration. It can help you to see what they’re doing well and what they’re not so good at, so you can apply this to your website.
You can also navigate your way through their website to see what the user journey is like and if there’s anything you want to do differently.
Just be careful not to get sucked in by their design. Remember, just because something looks great, if it’s not very functional or user friendly it’s still no good!
Think about your SEO strategy
It might seem very early to be thinking about search engine optimisation but it’s important to consider this in the planning stage of your website. Trying to incorporate good SEO into a site that hasn’t been built for it can make things much trickier down the line.
You should also do some keyword research. This will help you when planning the structure of your website and deciding what content you’re going to need to create early on.
Working with SEO in mind right from the start will help you (or your team) to build your website in a Google-friendly way.
Plan the structure
When it comes to planning your structure, you don’t have to spend ages getting this perfect. That being said, the more thorough you are at the planning stage, the easier life will be for you later on in the process.
Whether you simply jot down some notes or you choose to draw out a diagram, your structural plan must contain a list of the main categories that will go in your header and any sub-categories that will lead on from them.
Just make sure that you keep user experience in mind at all times and don’t make your structure too complicated. You should try to avoid choosing any more than seven categories as this can become overwhelming.
Remember, the simpler the better.
And this is also your chance to implement your keyword research to start making your website as SEO-friendly as possible.
Think about your budget
It’s important to consider your budget during the planning stage as this may have an impact on how you build your website.
There are several costs associated with starting up a new website but not all of these will apply depending on the services you use. Some of the key costs you might need to consider are:
- Domain name
- Web hosting
- Content and SEO – if you’re paying people to write/do this research for you
- Web design
- Testing tools
It’s worth doing your research during the planning stage to get a better idea of what these costs will be and whether you want to outsource some of these tasks (such as content creation) or do them yourself.
Consider what content you’ll need
Next up, you need to think about what content you want to go on your website. This might be page descriptions, your ‘about’ page, blog posts, product descriptions, etc.
This is your chance to put together a quick list of how much content needs to be created and to consider what keywords you’re going to be targeting with this.
Depending on the nature of your website, you might have relatively little content or you might have a lot to create before you can officially launch. So carefully consider the time you’re going to need to dedicate towards writing this.
If you’re writing this yourself that is.
Decide what other assets you’ll need
However, it’s not just about content and pages when building a website. You also need to think about the other aspects that make your site great. For example:
- Are you going to need to create a logo?
- What colours and fonts will represent your brand?
- What photos will you use?
- Will you include links to social media accounts?
- Do you need a sign-up form?
All of these additional aspects are important and although you can think about these and even change these later on, it’s helpful to create a full plan of what you want your site to look like and any must-have features you want to include.
Choose a suitable CMS
Finally, you have almost completed the planning stage of your website build but there is one final thing you need to do. You need to choose a content management system (CMS) to build your site on.
In a nutshell, this is the framework that your website is built upon. So for example it could be WordPress, Wix, Magneto or Squarespace.
The CMS you choose will depend on which you’re most familiar with, most comfortable with and what features you want on your website, so do a bit of research into this before settling on your final choice.
If you’re considering a website project and would like a little help or advice feel free to get in touch.