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5 practical steps to planning a website

5 practical steps to planning a website

Whatever business sector you’re in, the basics of putting a website together are exactly the same, so here are my five key things to think about when planning your website.

1. What’s it for?
What is the purpose of your website?  Until you think about why your website exists and what you want people to do when they get there, it’s very difficult to plan it effectively.  Here are some ideas to get you started.

 

Your website could be for:

  • People to buy products – an online shop
  • Demonstrating your product or service
  • Providing information
  • Creating a community
  • Providing evidence of your skills and knowledge
  • Entertainment

2. What will it say?
Think about what your visitors will need to know. For example it could contain:

  • An overview of who you are, what you do and who you do it for
  • A description of your product or service – this may be broken down into sections
  • About you, your team – establishing your credibility
  • Some examples of your work, case studies, pictures, testimonials
  • A shopping area
  • A newsletter or blog area*
  • Your social media feed*
  • How to get in touch

My top tip for this part is to get a pad of sticky notes, and imagine each one is a page on your website.  Write down the heading of each page on each one, laying them out on a handy table, wall or window so you can visualise your website as pages. It is then easy to re-organise and re-structure them as you go.

*Only include news and social media if you are going to keep them up to date. If the last update is 2 years ago, that looks worse than not having anything at all.

3. What functionality does it need?
This is important when briefing a website developer as the cost will be determined by the functions that you need.  For example, do you need:

  • A gallery of images
  • An online shopping facility
  • A blogging area
  • The ability to update it yourself
  • A newsletter sign-up option and/or integration with your email newsletters
  • Social media feed
  • An online booking facility

4. How should it look?
You may already have a company colour-scheme or brand image.  Whether you have or not, your website should reflect your company style in terms of colour-scheme, typeface and design. Use your logo for inspiration.

  • Informal
  • Contemporary and stylish
  • Traditional
  • Business-like

You can also think about more emotional words like “friendly”, “approachable”, “professional”.

5. What “tone of voice” will it have?
How will you talk to your website visitors?  Perhaps you will adopt an informal tone, or you could prefer a professional, business-like voice.  Imagine who your website visitors are likely to be – I mean literally picture them!  Give them a name, an occupation, a personality.  It makes it much easier to write your content in a language and tone that they will relate to.

Giving these 5 areas some serious thought will help pave the way to a successful website.

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