A Guide to Website Planning

A Guide to Website Planning

In this digitized age, businesses are buoyed by a successful websites. There’s no skirting the necessity for digital advertising as more consumers prioritize online products and services, so building a website is a natural step for any business owner. What some fail to recognize is that websites take a large amount of planning–slapping down some HTML and losing .png files and calling it a day sadly doesn’t make the cut. A little technical TLC can go a long way in elevating revenue, but where do you start?

Any website development guide begins with putting your business into perspective. Asking many “what” and “how” questions concerning your business purpose will lead to the answers a website can emphasize, from selling products to conveying information. Whether you’re doing this yourself or you’ve hired a professional web designer, outlining a clear goal of what you want your site to do will create a better understanding of what the final product needs to look like.

The primary thing to consider when developing a goal is the user base. Marketing is highly competitive and can quickly shift depending on consumer needs and behavior. A business succeeds by being responsive to a demographic, which comes from monitoring customer motivations. People typically buy what they hear about, plain and simple. When designing and developing a website, your target audience’s needs and interests need to be front and center.

A key way of snagging an audience is utilizing marketing strategies. There are many website fish in the sea, so it’s important to make yours stand out. Tools that operate on meta descriptions and keywords – like SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and social media – are helpful for singling out trends and “buzz words” related to your market. Use them to see how your competitors are organizing website elements that make the information not only relevant to search engines but also attractive.

No one wants to stay on a home page that looks like a ransom letter with links to more ransom letters. Like any brick-and-mortar business that has a welcoming storefront, appealing visuals play a decent role in retaining consumer attention when online. Even if your content is interesting, people won’t stay long if it isn’t streamlined for easy viewing. This is where site mapping comes in handy. It’s a creative process that essentially storyboards a framework of web pages that will inform the structure of the entire site. In layman’s terms: a brainstorming chart for a web layout. Everything – from product descriptions to page links – has a place. Nudging the desired content for your business into an ideal location will affect usability and interest, so it’s important to plot out what goes where in an order that benefits your company mission.

Equally important as flow and placement are – drumroll – design elements! These are the exciting bits that will outline your brand personality by way of colors, fonts, and images. Just like with marketing keywords, your competitors are fantastic resources of inspiration. Study how they use typography and photos to represent their brand and maintain intrigue. Creating a mood board, like a digital collage, is great for collecting these design elements in one place and displaying how everything comes together. The look and feel of a site greatly impact use, so even though this step is arguably the most fun, time and thought should be paid to make sure it represents your business accurately and aesthetically.

There’s clearly more to website development than most people expect. If you aren’t sure what you’re doing, it can be overwhelming, even with the many websites hosting programs that shoulder some of the work. Following a step-by-step process is helpful, but without fully understanding the planning process, it’s easy to miss crucial details in maintaining online success.

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