Pre-Planning for your next website
A smart website starts with a solid strategy
How to plan effectively for a successful website? Here are some tips to get started before you contact a designer or a web agency for your new website design.
Many times I had clients contacting me to create a website for their business, without having spent time to think about its objective. A smart website should be the result of a well-thought strategy with clear goals, and communicate authentically with your audience.
Whether you need a website refresh or you just started your company and are ready to invest in a solid website, you need to plan and gather some material first. You will find the process itself is a journey to find clarity and will help you getting a stronger sense of purpose for your business. It may seem like you already know exactly what you’re offering, but there might be some blind spots that you will discover as you go through the following steps.
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1. What is the purpose of your website?
Before to start on thinking about content and design, the first thing to ask yourself is: “What do I want my website do for me?”
Identifying your website objectives prior to building is an important step to focus on what matters the most. Is it brand awareness, providing information, selling products, or getting bookings for an event?
You may have several goals you want to achieve that you can order by priority. Classifying will allow to structure your website in a logical way and guide your visitors effectively.
“Web design is not just about creating pretty layouts. It’s about understanding the marketing challenge behind your business.”
― Mohamed Saad
2. What are you providing?
Make a list of all the products or services that your company offers. Then sort them in different categories and write a short description of each of these categories. Users will be able to quickly access to what they are after.
If you provide services, it’s best to create packages in order to avoid single option aversion which can lead people shopping around to search for competitors alternatives. A good approach is to present them under a “basic/midrange/premium” model as you don’t want to overwhelm them either.
3. Who is your audience?
Make sure that you are talking to the right people. Keeping the right audience in mind will help you with choosing the appropriate tone of voice and look & feel of your website. This is also a fundamental step to rank high in Google search, as you will define the keywords that the potential customers might use when searching for your services or products.
Who are you talking to?
4. Implementing your branding
If you haven’t done it before, you need to have your branding up and ready. Branding consists of being clear about your brand mission and its personality. It also includes all the graphic material such as your company logo, colour palette, typography, imagery, tone of voice etc.
Your website represents your business, so you need to keep it consistent with the rest of your collaterals, this is why respecting your brand guidelines is essential.
5. Creating content
Now that you have a clear purpose for your website, a list of products or services and your branding set, you are ready to create the copy and imagery. Communicate clearly with your audience and make sure that you have good quality pictures and videos that represent authentically your brand.
When you write your content, think about your customer first. It is not about how great your business is, it is about how can you help solve your client’s problems. So make the copy customer-centred to engage with them and sparkle interest.
Think about writing enticing CTAs (Call to Action), such as “Try for free” or “Show me how” to grab attention.
If you are not sure about writing the perfect copy, hire a copywriter. It’s the best way to get a persuasive copy tailored to get great SEO results.
Consider hiring a professional photographer to make sure that your products or services look amazing. Resist the temptation to overuse pictures from bank images: it is unauthentic and it has been proven that nobody pays attention to it.
Videos are the go-to media to understand how things work. It makes it easy to explain what your business is about and it also establishes a bond with your customers. If you appear in the video, they will have a better feel of who they are dealing with, creating a trusting relationship.
You can also have animated video with a voice-over to explain your app functionalities or the benefits of a physical product. The great thing about videos is that it also helps your website to rank higher in Google. So, don’t be shy and get yourself in front of the camera!
Think ahead and start describing every single product and service. You may also want to research shipping methods, payment gateways, terms and conditions and return policy.
Use the power of testimonials to build your credibility. Contact your past and current happy customers and gather as many as you can. Don’t forget to ask them a headshot that you will place next to their comments. You can also ask them to copy-paste their review on Google to help with your SEO and social proof.
6. Technical setup
Domain and hosting
Talk with your web designer about their preferences regarding hosting platforms, as their services can vary. Your designer or web agency can also provide hosting saving you the headache to search for it and deal with the technical issues.
Sign up with Google Analytics to track your website traffic and use insights to shape the success strategy of your business.
If you are selling products or services online, you will need to use a payment gateway. You need to register your business account on Paypal if you wish to use this platform, or on Stripe if you also want to allow your customers to pay directly by credit card. Stripe is commonly used for e-commerce websites.
7. Get inspired!
Now, the fun part. Look at what your competitors are up to online and make sure you don’t look like them. You want to stand out and look better.
Save their URLs and report what you like and dislike about them. This will help with designing a website that you will love.
8. Consider time, budget and maintenance
As you can see, building a website takes time: research, creation and development are all part of a journey that requires preparation, trial and errors, amends and fine-tuning. It’s easy to underestimate the time needed for it, so allow enough buffer for the whole thing to happen, and don’t rush the process.
You can have your website made by one of the cheap platforms, however, if you are serious about your business, I highly recommend to hire a professional designer that understands both design and strategy. She/he will be able to guide you through the process and help you get a website that is set for success from the first round, saving you time and money (and headaches!). A website is a business investment, not a cost!
If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design.
— RALF SPETH
And finally, take into account that a website is more than an online brochure, it is a living organism! It needs maintenance (back up, security etc), technical issues fixing, content update.
Conclusion: Get clear on your website’s objectives, set up a solid branding, identify your audience, gather images and copy for a powerful content, register to all the necessary platforms, assess the scope for time and budget and get inspired!
Are you ready to brainstorm? If you need any help with your website pre-planning, get in touch.
Start planning your next project with our Free Website Planning Guide
An interactive manual that makes the process easy.