If you’re considering a new website or a facelift for your current site, you’ll need a solid plan to keep you on target and gain the ROI you want. Proper planning is essential to your online success. After all, a poor quality site is often worse than no online presence at all. If you do it right, your website will add to your overall success and profitability by keeping current clients engaged and consistently attracting new ones.
Planning for a new website or updates to an existing one needn’t be overwhelming. Follow these eleven simple steps and save headaches down the road by taking time to consider your needs and resources upfront.
Define the objective of your site. Is it to…
• Generate income
• Sell products to consumers or wholesalers
• Develop name recognition or enhance company image
• Develop a national or global market for your business
• Display a portfolio
Define your target audience. Ask… who, besides you, will visit your site and what will they expect to find? Think expansively. Are you…
• Selling products to the public
• Providing business-to-business services
• Offering expertise to other professionals in the field
What is your specialty, what makes your product or service unique?
• Competitive angle: price, quality, service, and uniqueness of product or service
• Primary point of differentiation
What advantage do you offer your customers? Why should they choose you? Do you have special products, knowledge, contacts, and sources?
Research similar sites. It’s helpful to know what appeals to you and turns you off about other sites.
• Look at similar organizations or businesses, sites dealing with similar services, products or even your supplier’s websites.
• Make lists of content, features, and design elements you like and don’t like.
Make a list of the features and functionality you might want. This could include…
• Photo gallery, image sliders, video gallery, etc.
• Special forms to gather leads, quote requests, general contact, questionnaires, etc.
• Ecommerce shopping cart or order forms
• Audio, video, blogs or other Social Media integration
• Dynamic navigation menus
• Special graphics, tabbed navigation or content sliders
• Email marketing integration
• Event calendar
• Google Maps
Arrange and prioritize your content. After you have brainstormed content, ask yourself, what areas are most important in supporting your ultimate site goals and objectives? Or better yet, how does your website goals map to your department’s business goals? When you find that connection, you’ll know which content to prioritize.
What will be most important to your reader? Is this content something you’d like accessed from every page? Think about how you want the reader to navigate your site content. Your goal at this stage is to begin visualizing how the site will navigate. Consider content organization from your audience’s perspective, not your perspective.
Make a visual flow chart. Your main navigation buttons may need to have subcategories. Make a quick drawing of how you imagine a user to flow through the site. Keep your site objectives and goals in mind as you prioritize information.
Register a domain name. You’ll need to find a domain name that is available and pay the annual fee.
Questions to keep in mind are:
• Is it easy to spell and remember?
• Does it reflect your company name or product line?
• Does the domain name match what your customers will be searching for online? The closer, the better.
• Will it show up well when used in print advertising?
Get a free domain name with the purchase of any web design package! Get a free no-obligation quote by click here.
Make a budget for the site. A website will have start-up costs and ongoing maintenance fees. After all, you will need it to continue to run smoothly and be protected as you move forward. Integrate your website costs into your existing and long-term business goals. Budget for the initial cost of site design and development, but also keep in mind that you’ll need to update your site regularly to keep up with marketing goals and changing technology.
Some things to consider for ongoing website costs are…
• Domain name registration
• Web hosting
• Who will take care of the website content management?
• Website security
• The cost associated with using third-party features
• Updates and maintenance
Consider your overall marketing strategy. How does your website dovetail with your print marketing? Coordinate your online and print media design plans. Budget for additional services like search engine optimization, Internet marketing, email newsletters, as well as offline marketing like brochures, postcards or other print media.
Create a proposed schedule. Set up a schedule of when you plan to review, write or provide site content, who you have to meet with to make decisions and a target date of when you want the site to be up and running.
Even if you’re not able to spend time on each element outlined here, any legwork you do up front will help your team and web developer to more quickly understand your goals and result in a smoother and more cost-effective project.
We hope our FREE Website Planning Checklist has helped you. We are passionate about what we do and eager to help you succeed. If you hire us, we guarantee that we will deliver your project within budget, on-time and most importantly, that you will be happy with.
We cost much less than you might think.