Planning a website is very critical, as is the case with the development of virtually every other product or structure. Imagine starting the construction of a mega building without a blueprint.
That’s quite daring of the contractor. The likelihood of successfully putting up an impressive structure is very low.
Likewise, starting a website without a solid plan is simply a game of chance. The probability of success is quite slim.
To ensure your online venture turns out prosperous, consider the following six practical steps for planning a website:
1. Detail Your Site’s Goals
First and foremost, what are you trying to achieve? Are you putting up a website simply to philanthropically educate the public? Or is it your intention to sell products online?
Perhaps your goal is gaining popularity as a means of securing an elective post. Or better still, to propagate some beliefs.
Whatever your objectives are, it’s important to have a definite list of them. Remember to define aspects such as:
- Expected number of visitors per day, week, year, or month
- Target audience
- Approximate sales volume
- A rough estimate of expected monthly signups
- List of competitors
- Product differentiation strategy
- Typical customer personas
Every subsequent activity in relation to developing your website should be tied to these goals. Try not to veer off into anything that doesn’t help in achieving the set objectives.
2. Gather Content
You now have a clear-cut ambition for your website.
The next step is to assemble some of the actual content you intend to have on your website.
You understand that content is the king when it comes to website visibility. Visitors coming to your website want to read an article, watch a video, view images, participate in a discussion, and so forth.
Remember, it’s not enough to simply visualize in your mind the kind of content you want to have on your website.
When you get to designing your website, you won’t have a precise picture of what element goes where. And so, the design process may prove to be bothersome.
Therefore, write some 10 or 20 articles that line up with your website’s goals. Shoot and edit about 5 professional videos if you want such to be part of your site’s content.
Take a good number of photographs that you want to be included in your website, perhaps, a picture of your company’s team members or products.
And this is but a tiny percentage of what content gathering involves. For more professional insight into this aspect of website planning, read more here.
3. Structure Your Web Pages
Your website needs a variety of pages to pass different sets of information. Here’s a list of some of the web pages you may need for your site:
- Frequently asked questions
- Terms and conditions
- Careers section
- Services offered
- Affiliate link disclosure
Once you decide on the pages that your website should have, start planning on website navigation.
This refers to how users move around your website. The easier it is for them, the better for your business.
Web users usually don’t like it when they find it difficult to look for information on your website. They can simply head off to one of your competitors whose website is navigable.
Keep the homepage as simple as possible, without overly limiting the information you present to your web visitors. It’d look untidy to place links to all the above-mentioned pages on the primary menu bar of your site.
You may want to bundle common pages under a particular parent category to achieve a neat look.
4. Generate A Mock-up
A website mockup is a non-functional representation of the final design elements of a website. In other words, a mockup allows you to see the layout of different components of your web pages and their relation to each other.
You see how article snippets, videos, images, and social media feeds will be displayed on the different pages.
It’s in this phase that you can seek the opinion of your team members and make the necessary changes in the layout, color, image display, border styles, and the like.
You can also test the look of your web pages with different color schemes and settle on the perfect appearance.
While you can create mockups by sketching on a piece of paper, a better approach is to use online mockup software. These are more realistic and versatile as they allow you to test hundreds of layouts and color schemes.
Another alternative is to use a pre-designed website theme. There are thousands of these on the market, some are for free and others are for sale.
Once you pick the theme of your liking, all you’ll need to do is to populate the different pages with your content to replace the default placeholder content.
5. Design The Website
Having the final mockup in place, it’s now time for your web designer to start working on the actual website design.
If your web designer is experienced in coding or you have the money to hire gurus in this field, go ahead and code from scratch.
Otherwise, you may want to use website builders. These require little to no coding knowledge.
Some have simple-to-use drag-and-drop features that allow you to play around with the website layout by moving web page components around the screen using your mouse.
6. Test The Functionality
So far, your website design is complete and all the content you gathered is uploaded. Next, you have to test whether all the links and features are functioning as intended.
Try loading the site in different web browsers and confirm that the appearance is the same in all. Also, use different computers, smartphones, iPads, and laptops to see how your site looks.
If anything seems amiss in any of the devices or web browsers, go back to the drawing board and perfect the design.
Go Live Launch your website once you’re fully pleased with the design and functionality. But that’s not the end yet.
You’ll need to periodically carry out maintenance for your website and also provide content in line with your SEO strategy. It’s surely a long journey, but the rewards are worth the sweat.