So, you’re considering building a website? That’s a good thing. The biggest input in creating your website is your time, and if you are going to invest your time and energy, I would like to help you get it right, it is important that you plan the user experience first
The reason to do this is so you end up with a website that’s effective and is designed to GROW your business.
So let’s get started… Here are the Planning steps that you need to take to create an effective website.
STEP 1: BE CLEAR ON YOUR BUSINESS AND THE BIG PICTURE
Being clear means knowing exactly who you are as a business.
- What is your big Vision
- Who do you serve?
- What is your Unique offering
- Your core values
It’s important that you document these so that you can create a website that communicates what your business is all about.
STEP 2: YOUR IDEAL CLIENT
Before you proceed with your build or anything for that matter you need to know who your target audience is? Sounds obvious, right? But have you actually spent the time to work out exactly who your ideal customer is?
You need to be very clear on this because it helps you get really focused on who your product or service offering is for and how you communicate to them.
In creating your Ideal customer there are 6 key questions you need answers to
You can read more about creating your ideal customer here
STEP 3: YOUR VISUAL STORY
Once you are clear about your business and you know who your ideal customer is you should begin to map out your visual storyBy this is mean you should begin to think about the visual elements that will represent your brand. Note that these visual design elements are only a part of what makes up your brand
The design elements include
- Your logo,
- The colours,
These elements help you connect with your audience and define your brand style.
STEP 4: DEFINE THE PURPOSE OF YOUR WEBSITE
The next step now is to decide what you want your website to do for your business? Do you want more sales, lead generation, build awareness or just a catalogue.
Regardless of what your reason is, it is important that you are clear on the purpose of your website.
Knowing this will guide you as you make design/layout choices and as you start to create your content.
STEP 5: YOUR CUSTOMER JOURNEY
Making sales online is not a simple as putting up your products and services.
Once you’ve identified your ideal client, it is important that you think about their journey and the actions you want them to take on your website that gets them to the ultimate goal of buying from your business.
What’s going to happen once they decide to buy – where will they go?
Make sure you document this journey map, you will want to input it in your design and layout choices.
Because increasing sales is a big part of why you’re creating a website, you’ll want to think through all of your customers’ interactions with your website.
So you can create a website that guides your customer through the process, professional and helps you make the sale!
STEP 6: YOUR SITE NAVIGATION
Once you have defined your ideal customer’s interaction you can now map out your website layout needs.
What pages will you have on your website, and which ones are important to have on the main navigation menu?
What pages link to each other? How will people interact with your website and find their way around?
My suggestion is to write up all your pages on individual sticky notes and then start arranging them until you come up with a plan that is easiest to navigate for your web visitors. Make it easy and simple for your visitors to find what they need.
Draw out the map of your website and have it to hand when you are designing or you can hand it over to your website designer.
STEP 7: DESIGN RESEARCH AND INSPIRATION
Before you go ahead and build anything, it is important that you carry out some research on your competitor both on content and website layouts. So that you can compare this with your layout
Look at top performers in your industry, identify trends. There are TONS of well-designed websites – so grab your friend – google and begin your research.
If necessary register on their websites to see how things work and to help you understand the sequence of activities.
-Look at how their website organised, review their structure and test their functionality?
Write down what you like and what you don’t like about the websites you have visited so you can make YOUR website way better.
It is your opportunity to “borrow” from what others are doing that really works.
STEP 8: YOUR SITE CONTENT
This step requires a lot of thinking. You now know what pages your website needs, and you know what your competitors are doing within your industry
You should begin to put down content ideas for each of the pages on your website
Don’t worry, you don’t have to write up all the pages yet, but putting your content ideas gives you a starting point.
And if you’re going to hire a designer to build your website, they’ll want to know this information . One key page on your website that you need to take particular note of is your home page. But don’t forget you need to put in as much effort for the other pages too.
Here are a few tips to start you off on your web pages
- Be clear about the purpose of each page – why it’s there and what results you want it to produce.
- Map out and plan the layout of each page.
- Write up all the content keeping your layout in mind and if you have chosen to go with a designer, they will be able to advise if it is a layout that will work
Your homepage is where you make the first impression, it is where you let people know who you are, what you do and who you do it for.
Remember, your homepage should not be full of text that’s overwhelming to read.
Think of your homepage more as your customer service adviser, guiding people to where you want them to go.
The most important information on your homepage should be above the fold and must be clear,
This determines whether a web visitor will continue or drop off your website.
STEP 9: CHOOSE A PLATFORM
Here is where you decide what content management system you want to build your website on.
You have a number of options depending on whether you would like to host it yourself or have it hosted for you. YOur options include Squarespace, Wix, WordPress.
My preference is WordPress, and it’s the platform I would recommend that you build your website on because of its easy user interface.
Do your research, ask questions and make sure whatever platform you choose will give you the website that works best for your business.
The next step is to decide if you’re going to build your website yourself or hire someone to do it for you. There are pros and cons either way you go – just do what is best for your business!
Once you’ve pulled everything together as a first draft, ask review everything again and make sure it all works for you especially the layout and content and they support the goal(s) of your website. If they don’t then, by all means, keep tweaking till you get it right
We made it! Well done for getting all the way to the end. I know there’s a whole lot to take in, but take your time and work your way through it. Then when you’re ready to tackle that website build, you’ll have done a big part of the work.
It will certainly make the whole process so much easier for you! And don’t forget to grab the free Website Planning Workbook. It’s going to help you plan an amazing website for your business.