Website planning is essential
When you start a business, you need to have an effective business plan that sets out all of your strategy intentions and your goals. While most companies plan for their organisation, they often fail to do the same for the website. Website Planning is very key to your success.
Whether you are running a business or simply hoping to start a successful website, website planning is essential. Without it, you are setting up your website to fail, and you may also be building up a poor user experience for anyone visiting your web pages. By learning how to plan your site, you can start to be more effective in your website design and user experience.
Take a look around at other Websites
Before you start to plan your website, it is a good idea to have an idea of what your website will need. The best way to set out a framework that you can build your website plan upon is to perform research on both your customers and your competitors. This study may be described by engineers as a competitive analysis. What it means is that you are looking at how your competitors conduct their website, how they generate traffic and how they keep traffic from bouncing, turning it into long-term customer relationships.
As well as a competitor analysis, you should also look at customer needs. Is there any area in which customer needs are plainly not being met by your competitors? This should form a significant part of your analysis, and can give you an idea of what sort of website plan you will need.
Assess your Website Content
One of the most important things that you can do when building your website is to conduct a content audit. These evaluate the current performance of content against your website strategy, assessing whether the content meets your users’ needs, business goals, performance requirements and standards of presentation. It will look at factors such as web analytics, content use and search engine.
By conducting this website content audit, you can add value to your website at the planning stage, and assess whether you have created content which follows your overall brand strategy goals. You can also help to prepare existing website content for movement to a new website, including assessing whether it will need to be revised before migration.
The audit will also act as a content inventory, which is one of the most essential parts of any website plan. If you have a large website or are building a website which will have several different pages, then you need to have a full and thorough content inventory performed. For both content audit and inventories, it is a good idea to employ an independent web consultant, who can view your website through fresh eyes.
Building a Website Map
Although you might think that creating a site map before you have designed your website might be an odd idea, it can be the best way to help you kick-start the creation process. The site map can be more than just a user’s guide to your web pages. Instead, it can be a useful planning tool for anyone designing website. By building the website, you can start to strategize about the webpages that you need to include on the site, and it can also help you to start constructing a website goal.
Websites that have no overall purpose can often be unfocused and will have a poor UX. Essentially, a site map will help you to clarify what your website needs, and what it is trying to present. By creating a site map before you start designing your website, you will have a better idea of where to put each page, what connections it needs, and how the overall flow of your website should feel.
Creating a wireframe for your Website Development
One aspect of website development which is best left to the experts is the creation of the wireframe. If you have not had any experience in website design, then you may never have heard of this term before. Essentially, a wireframe is like the blueprints provided for a copyright application, where the entire content of the website is laid out in a document, with each page described in full, complete with all of the content for that site. Each page depiction will include the layout for that page, any navigation elements, and other interface or interaction portals. It is a visual representation of how your entire website will appear, and in website planning is used to create visual plans for the site which can then be used to adjust each page so that it meets your website strategy.
While the wireframe is a guide to how your finished webpage will look, it is a very skeletal representation, with most wireframes lacking colour, graphics or finished type fonts. It is mostly concerned with the finished function of your webpage. If you are building a website after having followed the steps described here, then the wireframe will help you to ensure that each page is laid out according to your website plan or strategy.
Planning a Website User’s Journey
The purpose of all of this website planning and design is to take the customer or user on a journey around your website. The end goal of any website planning strategy should be to produce the best possible users’ journey. This is the term used to describe how your user will move from your homepage onto your content pages and then onto your sales pages. The flow of the user through your digital pages, rather like a visitor walking through a home, can be instrumental to the way that your customers view your website.
Designing and planning your own website is extremely difficult, and most website owners will benefit from asking a professional web developer to assist them in building a plan for their website, and ensuring that they get the best results from the steps in this process.