How to plan a website

Planning a website

Why Plan a Website ?

Planning a web site is essential for business. Generally many businesses fail to plan their websites. More often than not the complexities of running a business can be the reason behind this and there are many demands on time which do not allow for proper time attention to be allocated for projects. This happens because people seem to fail to recognise that planning a website is as important as anything else in business, a website is a business’s window to the world and failing to understand this can be the difference between having a successful online presence or not.

Usual Results of Failing to Plan a Website

  • Designer or developer is compelled to make guesses, which may or may not be right, about how certain content should appear on the website and sometimes the content itself.
  • Increased amount of back-and-forth communication about inconsequential matters can be multiplied unnecessarily.
  • Backpedalling and constant changes cause delays, misunderstanding and lapsed deadlines.
  • Work that falls outside the original scope of the project creates additional cost and communication issues.
  • Increased confusion and client dissatisfaction are by products of not planning.

Important things to remember:

  • The website is not for you, it must meet the expectations and needs of your customer/client.
  • A website is a flexible, extensible communications instrument that reflects, positively or negatively, on the business.

Web Design Planning Checklist

  1. Website Design Objectives
    • What is your primary objective?
      • To establish and promote your businesses credibility.
      • To increase exposure.
      • To describe your products or services.
      • To offer online transactions, purchasing (ecommerce) or information on how to buy products and services.
      • To provide customer service and/or support.
      • To communicate business identity or branding.
      • To decrease print and sending costs.
      • To compete with competitors.
    • Your secondary objectives are?
      • To make your website search engine friendly.
      • To generate repeat visitors and/or custom.
      • To encourage visitors to recommend the website to others.
      • To create an online community.
      • To offer a newsletter or members section.
      • To encourage visitors to stay and visit parts of the site.
  2. Your Websites Target Audience
    • Who is your target audience?
    • What is your target audience looking for?
    • Will people find you by search engines or will you provide them with your domain name via printed material and/or emails and/or social networks?
    • What questions are your customers and/or clients always asking you?
    • What can you offer your customers and/or clients that would save them time?
  3. Web Site Design Look and Feel
    • Look at other websites to gather ideas of what you would like on your website.
    • Which features and layout styles do you like best and feel that your business will benefit from, from the websites you have come across?
    • Do you need to decide on a colour scheme or overall theme, or would you like to our expertise?
    • What kind of image do you want your website to portray for your business?
    • Navigation and Menus – Single, Multiple, Dropdowns?
    • Graphics and Photographs –   Do you have electronic or favoured choices or are you looking to us to provide you with royalty free stock or custom photos?
    • Are you interested in animation graphics or videos for the website?
    • Do we need to take photos of you, your staff, your services, or your products?
    • Do you have any vendor supplied photos or graphics you are authorized to use?
  4. Logo and Branding
    • Do you have a logo for your business?  Do you have a high resolution digital copy of it?
    • Do you need a logo or would a stylized text of your business name be sufficient?
    • Do you need us to design and develop a brand image and logo for your business?
    • If yes, how would you describe your business in one sentence? Do you have an idea for the logo in mind?
  5. Content
    • Do you have existing written material which can be used? If not, please ensure that you either put together the content required or at least have a good indication to what you require so that you may either request copywriting services or use the content management facility to insert the content on to your website upon completion of the website design and development.
    • Do you have information in electronic format which can be used? For example,
      • Brochures
      • Presentations
      • Flyers
      • Case studies
      • Testimonials
      • Business timeline history
      • Previous or current website (if any)
  6. Which pages would you like your website to consist of? below are some commonly used web page names:
    • Home
    • Our Services
    • Our Products
    • About Us
    • Why Choose Us
    • Testimonials
    • Frequently Asked Questions (also known as FAQ’s)
    • Discussion Forum
    • Documents / Downloads
    • Our Blog
    • Members Area
    • Links or resources
    • Make a booking
    • Contact us
    • Other (specific to your business)
  7. Search Engine Optimisation & Promotion
    • How will people find you: by name, keywords, products, services, etc.
    • Resource linking:  if you don’t offer it, who does? Would you like to link to them?
    • Keyword orientated content and web page names
    • Ensure you inform us of your keywords and/or request keyword research to ensure the best use of keywords in accordance to your specific industry and competitor analysis.
    • Monitor your websites ranking in the various major search engines frequently and modify your website as often as possible based on your discoveries.
  8. Web Site Technical Details
    • Have you registered a domain name?  If not, we can take care of that for you.
    • Hosting Plans:  do you already have adequate hosting? If not, we can take care of that for you.
    • Do you have your control panel access information for domains and hosting if already acquired?
    • Do you have the expertise to carry out maintenance on your website should your website face any technical difficulty? If not, we can take care of that for you.
  9. Project Timeline
    • What is your deadline for the website? Beginning when and finishing when?
    • Is your launch date tied to a product or service that you are introducing?
    • Is your business dependant on seasonal, social or financial timeframes?
  10. Unanswered Questions
    • If you are left with questions after going through the checklist, have you made a note of them so that you can discuss them with us? If not, you should do so as it may prove vital in obtaining a website designed and developed with the right content & features for your target audience.

We have the experience and knowledge to provide your Business with all the information you need to get you started.  Contact us for a free consultation and quote.