How do you plan a website project?
What things should you be thinking about when you plan your website? It’s important to have some idea of what you’ll need but if you don’t know what you need to consider, it’s a little tricky.
We get lots of calls from people who say, “I need a website but I don’t know how to go about it.” If you don’t know, you don’t know. This is fine, because we do and that’s why you’re ringing. So, how do you plan a website project? It all starts with some kind of brief, or a plan, of what’s required. This is a lengthy blog but it gives a list of lovely things to think about before you approach a web designer. If you contact a designer after you’ve put a brief together, they will love you forever! Promise.
It’s important that your website has a reason for being in existence. What is your website actually for? What do you want it to achieve? What are the specific purposes and outcomes for the website project so you know what it is you’re looking to achieve? Without goals, you won’t hit them. Whatever money you spend on a website has to be earned back and recouped. It should be an investment, not a cost.
Who are the people that will be using your website? These people are your target users, the ones you need to ‘speak to’ and the ones that will help make the site a success. Think about your customers, clients and service users. From a certain point of view, this is their website not yours.
It’s important to have a brand identity. Branding includes things like your physical logo and colour scheme as well as your brand messages, e.g. quality, honesty, integrity, as well as slogans, such as Nike’s Just Do It. Your brand should say something about the ethos of your company.
This involves thoroughly researching the marketplace that exists already to ensure your company occupies as much a gap in the online market as possible. This is an important exercise because it informs you about how other companies are marketing themselves and enables you to suss out the competition!
The design of your site is very important as first impressions count. However, after a few seconds, visual impact becomes less important and it becomes more about the user-experience (UX), written content, how people move through the site, and how easy the site is to navigate. It’s not just about it being pretty.
Written content is an important part of the site as it’s the key element that gives people the information they are looking for. It’s also important that it’s well-written and gives clear, targeted info. Content is also the most difficult and time-consuming part of any website project. Are your potential customers getting the message?
Calls-to-action, or CTAs, are buttons or links that you want your visitors to click. They should be designed to guide users down a pathway, or ‘sales funnel’, so they end up taking the actions you want them to, which could be filling in an enquiry form or making a phone call.
A simple and effective navigation and menu system is needed in order for visitors to find the information they are looking for. Navigation should be easy, logical and lucid, with clear page titles, and the exact pages you’ll need should be thought about at the beginning of the project.
Website functionality it what will make the site interesting for users and engaging. It’s important to have a clear idea of all functionality at the beginning of the project in order to make the development smooth and straightforward – adding new ideas halfway through a project can cause problems for your web designer and increase costs for you. Make sure you’ve thought about everything at the beginning.
Will it be a website that will be regularly updated? Will the site need to be built to be scalable to enable new content to be added over time? The platform used (e.g. WordPress, Magento, etc.) will need to be chosen carefully to make sure it is easy to update and you have room to expand in the future.
What happens after the site has been launched? Will you be maintaining it or will you want your web designer to do it? It’s important that you think about how the site will be updated and have the conversation at the beginning of the project.
The domain name is your website address, e.g. www.davethebuilder.com. Domain names usually contain a company name and typically cost around £10 a year to register. Will you register this yourself and have you checked the one you want is available? Do you need to think of alternatives?
Your website will need a hosting package to get it online. Hosting is essentially rental space on the internet where your website is uploaded to. Will you be sorting out your own hosting or will you need your designer to do it for you?
Free planning help
This blog gives you an idea of some the main things to think about when you’re planning your website. It’s important that you know what you’re trying to do, as well as your web designer. A good brief is key to helping everyone and getting things straight in your own head. What you have read here not exhaustive and your chosen web designer should talk about these things with you, as well as some things not included here. If you need any help planning your website, please do get in touch. We’re always happy to have a chat and our advice is free.
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