This Website Planning Guide is aimed at helping those who want or need a new website but have no idea where or how to start. More often than not, when the glow of realising it’s time to get a website wears off and you understand the actual task at hand, the whole idea ends up in the “too hard basket”.
Using this Guide
Using this Website Planning Guide will help you work through the process step by step so when you are ready to engage in a web design team (like, oh I dunno…Kevin Oliver Web Design perhaps?), then you will now more or less what you want but more importantly, what you need to help grow your business.
You will most likely get to a section, question or concept that you think to yourself “I have no idea!” Just hang in there and take your time. This Website Planning Guide is designed to make you really think about what you need to know. ALSO, just email me if you need help. Purely no obligation, we won’t hold you to our services. We just aim to help.
1. Define the objective of your website
Why are you considering a website? Is the objective to generate leads for your existing business, offer information to your customers, are you starting a new business, do you want to sell your products or services on the World Wide Web? Defining your objective for your website is most important as it will help shape the type of design, functionality, optimisation and Internet marketing needs.
What type of website do you need?
A Basic Website
An excellent option if you just need something simple to tell people what you do? A basic website might be what you need.
An eCommerce Site
Want to sell products and take payments in an online shop? An eCommerce website is what you need.
A Bookings Site
Perfect for accepting bookings with or without payments? A booking and scheduling website is just what you need.
A Catalogue Site
Have products to display but don’t need online payments? This style site is right for you.
A Blog Site
Just want to update your visitors with news and articles? A blog website is what you need.
2. Define who you are targeting
Will you be selling products to the public, providing business-to-business services or offering your expertise to other professionals? Who might view or use your website? Competitors, suppliers or the general public? Design your website from the perspective of your audience; not your organisation. Jot down scenarios in which different types of visitors come to your website and try to think about how you would address each of their needs
3. Define your businesses uniqueness
What’s your websites competitive edge? How is your company different to others on the web? Do you plan to compete on price, quality or service or the uniqueness of your products, services or ideas? Will you do a better job of marketing than your competition? Can you bring to the table special products, knowledge, contacts, sources? Think about this and plan your website with that in mind
4. Research similar websites
Spend some time on the web and see what’s out there. Look at similar organisations or businesses, websites dealing with similar services, products or even your supplier’s websites. Make lists of content, features, and design elements that you like and don’t like. This information is crucial as it helps your website designer to price your project and provides inspiration for where the website should be heading.
5. Consider website features
This could include special contact or feedback forms, a shopping cart, a content management system, special graphic elements, slideshow or image gallery, customer login area, blog, directory or even a ratings and review feature. These features should be based on your business and customer needs and should not be based on what everyone else is doing with their website.
6. Make a budget for your website
A website should be integrated into your existing and long-term business goals and not considered a one-time marketing expense. Budget for the initial cost of website design and development, but also keep in mind that you’ll want to update your website just like you make changes and updates to your business direction. A website that isn’t maintained and updated doesn’t do much for your image.
It is thought that 7 to 8% of your business turnover should go towards marketing / advertising. And it makes sense providing you do this in a thoughtful, planned manner. The ROI on your marketing investment needs to make sense.
7. Consider your marketing strategy
Will you be using print advertising to advertise your website, sending targeted emails or newsletters to your customers or just relying on traffic from search engines and directories? A website without any marketing strategy is doomed to fail before the project begins. If you are on a tight budget possibly consider publishing your website and then investing in some form of online marketing 6 -12 months down the track.
8. Decide on and register a domain name
You’ll need to find a domain name that is available and pay the annual fee (around $25 a year.) Questions to keep in mind are: is it easy to spell? Does it fit with your company product, service or name? If it’s a long name, will it show up well when used in printed advertising? You may also want to consider buying 2 or 3 domains for later use. I highly recommend using NameCheap when researching or buying domain names, mostly because their integration with a multitude of host providers is seamless.
9. Assemble your website content
Gather the content you already have in printed brochures, flyer’s or newsletters. Collect graphics or photos you have for logos, signs, posters, products, staff or personnel. Get your product database or other materials that you want on your website. If you don’t have this content your website designer will help you. Website copy is a specialise service so it will usually come at an extra cost.
10. Set a target date
Finally, any website planning guide would not be complete without advising to set up a schedule of when you plan to review, write or provide your website content. You will need to meet with your website designer to make these decisions and schedule a target date of when you want your website up and running. Setting a target date helps your website designer to plan ahead and develop within the required time-frame. Keep in mind that writing content and gathering the right images may take some time.