7 Practical Steps to Effective Website Planning

Published January 6, 2020 by Laura Magee

It’s easy to throw together a website. If you want an effective, revenue-building website, though, you’ll need an effective plan.

At EMKTG, building effective websites is what we do for our clients. When you stick to these 7 website planning basics, you’ll end up with a website that will help you get the edge over your competitors.

1. Choose Your Team

Unless your organization is a sole proprietorship, your staff has a variety of areas of expertise: marketing, sales, office support staff, information technology (IT), human resources (HR), and even engineering, medical, or other specialized employees. Too often, website creation falls only into the domain of the IT and marketing teams.

Ditch the silos; get someone from all your teams involved in the website creation process, and make your website reflect every aspect of your business. (1)

2. Define Your Goals

When you meet with your website creation team, look to your company’s mission, as well as what type of business you do to determine what you want to accomplish with your website. (2) A company whose business is primarily e-commerce will have vastly different goals than a psychotherapist’s practice, whose goal it is to encourage clients to seek help.

Once you’ve settled on your overall goals, you’ll need to set some measurable goals for outreach, conversions or subscriptions, and sales. Narrow down your target audience to help you identify the types of people most likely to need what you offer.

3. Decide on Which Pages You Need

To tailor your website to your business’s specific needs, you need to decide on the main pages that should go on the main menu. In addition to your home page, about page, and content page, you might need pages such as the following:

  • Gallery, portfolio or repertoire: For those businesses that specialize in visual impact, such as art galleries, architects or builders, or even plastic surgery practices, a gallery is a must. Musicians, of course, should post their most popular pieces (or links to their YouTube videos), while writers and marketing agencies need portfolios to showcase their work.
  • Blog: Most businesses and non-profit organizations need a blog to help them build authority in their area of expertise as well as customer trust. Make blog posts informational rather than promotional, always focused on helping your target customers solve problems and reach their goals.
  • Catalog: Businesses who offer products for sale should have a searchable online catalog that helps their customers find what they need quickly.
  • Mission: Social services and other non-profit agencies often have a mission page on which they state their mission, how they intend to accomplish it, and who they intend to help.

Once you have an idea of the pages you want, create a wireframe with the assistance of your design team. No worries if it’s not perfect. A wireframe is only a rough draft.

4. Identify What Teams Handle Which Tasks

If you plan to handle your website planning completely in-house, you’ll need to define which teams handle which tasks. Your web development team can take care of the backend tasks, while your graphic design team can work on the design.

For web content, your marketing team can write copy, while your specialists—such as doctors, lawyers, or other professionals—can lend a hand in providing writers with at least rough drafts of more technical content for blog posts, video, and other content. If you don’t have teams with expertise in specific areas, it’s always best to outsource these tasks to a full-service digital agency.

5. Create a Final Design

One of the most important elements of designing a website that will provide users with a seamless experience across all devices is responsive web design. (3) Responsive design means that your website will resize and optimize itself to conform to whatever device the user has at the moment.

With today’s customers increasingly accessing information on mobile devices, having a mobile-optimized website is of the utmost importance. That means that every element that allows users to interact with the site must be easy to use both with touch (mobile devices) and mouse.

Integrate your brand logo and colors into the design. Make every element understandable and easy to see.

6. Integrate Your Sales and Marketing Software into Your Website

To know how well your website is achieving your goals, you need to integrate your marketing and sales software into your website. Analytics software can track your total reach, time spent on your site, as well as conversions.

Your email automation software, too, can help keep the lines of communication open. Whether it’s a potential customer who wants more information or a new subscriber to your newsletter, it’s important to have everything you need available right on your website.

Also, plan to include links to your social media profiles on your website, as well as links from your social media to your website. Make it as easy as possible for customers to find you from wherever they are.

7. Test, Go Back to the Drawing Board, and Test Again until It’s Right. Rinse and Repeat

Once you have a great design and all the content ready to go, it’s time to test it with typical users to see how easily they can find what they need. Usability testing, therefore, is crucial to the success of your website.

If people become frustrated, they’ll click away to the next website selling what you offer. Fast loading speeds for each page are essential to your website’s success.

Test your design to make sure it appears properly on all the major browsers on all devices. Check all the links to make sure they work properly, as well as contact and other forms.

Keep testing until your website is ready to go. Then, pat yourself on your back and watch the audience roll in.

No matter how awesome you think your website is, it won’t stay that way unless you constantly test, analyze its performance in all your important metrics, and optimize its performance in search engine results.

If you need some help with planning your website—or if you want to turn the whole process over to a quality digital agency while you do what you love best, we’re here to help. Whether you need help in only one area or an entire website, our experience can help you get your website off on the right foot. Get in touch with our website design team to discover more.

Sources:

1) https://www.fastcompany.com/1703962/seven-practical-steps-planning-website
2) https://www.hostgator.com/blog/9-practical-steps-planning-website/
3) https://smallbiztrends.com/2013/05/what-is-responsive-web-design.html

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