Tips for planning your new website
You have decided you need a new website or that your current one needs an update. However, you might be putting the task off if you are not sure where to start or the aspects to consider before hiring a web designer.
Here are some tips on how you can effectively plan the design and features of your website in the most productive way.
Look for inspiration
Try finding similar websites to the one you would like to have, especially if you are unsure about the look and features that might be appropriate for your website. Some options are sites that you find compelling, your colleagues’ websites, or sites that reflect success in your industry. Take note of what you like and don’t like about them.
We are not trying to reproduce another website but to get an idea of the standards, design style and features that work well for your industry.
Looking for inspiration could give you a notion of what you want on your website and start shaping your ideas.
Define clear goals
Just assuming you need a website because everyone else has one is not clear enough to create a good plan.
Defining your goals can be tricky at the start, but a good way of doing it is to think about the purpose of your website by answering the following questions:
- Why do you need a website?
- Why do you want people to visit your website?
- Who is your target audience?
- How do you want your audience to feel when visiting your website?
- What is the primary action they should take on the website?
For example, a yoga studio director could answer these questions as below:
Why do you need a website? Answer: Because we want to promote our yoga classes.
Why do you want people to visit your website? Answer: So they can learn about our teaching style and the classes timetable.
Who is your target audience? Answer: We teach all yoga levels, so our target audience would be anyone in our town interested in yoga, from absolute beginners to regular practitioners.
How do you want your audience to feel when visiting your website? Answer: We want our website visitors to feel excited about learning yoga with us, that they will be well received at our classes and that they can trust our yoga teachers’ qualifications.
- What is the primary action they should take on the website? Answer: We want visitors to book yoga classes with us.
Defining the purpose and goals for your website at an early stage is important as they influence every step beyond this point: writing the content, choosing features, the website layout design, etc.
Make a list of website features and sections
Once you have clear goals and ideas for your website, make a list of the sections and features you would like to have. Perhaps you need a contact form, an event calendar, or a photo gallery.
On our yoga studio example, a list of pages and features could be:
- An about us section.
- A classes description section.
- A contact section with a contact form.
- A booking section with the option to book classes online.
With a list of sections and features, your web designer can give you good estimates on price and completion time.
Start gathering content, logos, images and other digital assets
Think about all the information, images, logos, icons, videos and other digital assets you want to use on your website. If you already have some of them you could start saving them on a cloud-based platform like Dropbox or Google Drive.
Always make sure you own or have permission to use the digital assets and that only the people you want to share your files with have access to your cloud folders.
Having all your website content in one place will make it easy for you to share them with others to get feedback and share them with your web designer, who might even be able to start working on your website if you have enough content to start.
Your plan won’t be set in stone and changes can always be made, but bear in mind that having a solid plan from the beginning of a website (re)design project will make the whole process faster and smoother.
Now I bet you can’t wait to start planning your website!