Planning Your Website – Part 1
At The Web Shack, we believe that the web development process should NOT be stressful or painful. It should be exciting – a time of planning, dreaming, and new ideas. We realize, though, that it can be a daunting task – like climbing that mountain that seems insurmountable, or the anxious expectations of first-time parents.
So, where do you begin? How do you possibly organize everything that needs to be done into an easy-to-follow process?
THAT’S WHERE WE COME IN!
Welcome to “Planning Your Website” – a 3-part series that will break the web development process down into “bite-sized” chunks that are easier to swallow. Don’t worry, we’re here to be your guide – to hold your hand and help you navigate the intimidating world of website development!
Ready? Let’s jump into STAGE ONE: EFFECTIVE PLANNING
1. DEFINE THE PURPOSE
What do you want your site to do?
Defining a clear purpose is important because it creates a FOCUS for your project.
- What are your objectives for your site – what is the main purpose?
- How does it complement your business plan and/or mission?
- What are your goals?
2. DEFINE THE AUDIENCE
WHO are you building your site for? Who do you WANT to visit your site?
Clearly defining your existing or potential visitors helps you promote your product, service, mission or vision more effectively. It will also serve as the guiding force in building your site content.
- Who currently visits your site and why?
- Who do you WISH visited your site?
- How will users interact with your site (devices, social media, technology)?
3. PLAN THE CONTENT
What TYPES of content will get your message across effectively?
Keep your objectives and your audience in mind when determining what types of content to include in your site.
- Well-written, concise, and keyword-rich text content is vital for usability and search engines
- Combining different types of media (audio, video, graphics) will enhance the user experience and expand audience reach
- Video is becoming an increasingly popular form of advertising and communication
4. PLAN THE STRUCTURE
How do you want to ORGANIZE your information?
Understanding your objectives and target audience will help you determine how your site should be structured, and what makes the most sense for you and your visitors.
- If you currently have a website, you can use it as a starting point. Determine what currently works and what doesn’t.
- Some pages, content, or terminology may need to be re-named for clarity or consistency.
- A detailed site map is helpful not only in organizing content, but also for search engines.
5. PLAN THE PAGES
What pages do you need? Consider both content and quantity.
Constructing your pages effectively enhances usability and allows you to drive your visitors to the information YOU want them to see.
- Content should be easy for your users to find and navigate – consider accessibility and usability.
- Avoid pages full of long text paragraphs. Break content into smaller sections or multiple pages.
- Create pages that are easy to link to and share on social media.
- Ensure all content on a page is relevant to the topic of that page, and fits the site objectives.
6. PLAN THE NAVIGATION
How quickly can your users FIND what they are looking for?
Your site’s navigation structure has a significant impact on your site traffic, user retention, and search engine rankings.
- Navigation menus should be obvious and easy to locate. Don’t make your users hunt for the roadmap.
- The sequence of items in your navigation is important. Consider your objectives and put your primary pages first.
- Use landing pages for primary content and have sub-menus and breadcrumbs for navigation within topics.
- Be clear and specific. Users shouldn’t have to guess what might be on a page – the menu should tell them.