How To Plan A Website
A new website can be great asset for any company, essentially working 24/7 in order to generate business, whether it’s advertising your services or directly selling to your customers. With this in mind, it’s important that you take the time to plan your website out. It can really be the difference between the success and failure of your website. It really goes back to the old saying:
“Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.”
Continue reading in order to find out some of the processes we use when planning a new website. If you’d like to discuss our processes further or would like to work with us, then please get in touch.
Why Do You Want A Website?
This has got to be one of the first questions you have to ask yourself when you think about getting a new site. For most companies this will be fairly easy initial answer, to generate business. However it will be useful if you can dig a bit deeper and write a few aims for your website. Some ideas include:
- Generate business
- Improve brand awareness
- Provide help and information to existing customers
- Streamline processes
After you’ve done this you will then need to think about how you plan on achieving these. Please remember that your website will only be a platform to achieve some of these aims, further work after the development of the site may need to be completed, but by planning your website you can make sure that your website is ready for any further work.
At this stage it may also be a good idea to consult with your staff/agencies as they may have further ideas in order to help meet your targets. From doing this you should be able to get a good understanding of what your website needs to do and the requirements of everyone who will be working on it.
Remember, your website can affect all areas of your business, don’t just think about the people directly involved. Your accounts department may benefit by having your website linked with their accounting software, or your warehouse staff may find use of it being linked to their software. It’s little things like this that can make a big difference to your business and can therefore save your company money in the long run.
Once you’ve done this you should have a good idea of what functionalities your website will need. Bare in mind this is the list for an ideal world, if you’re limited on budget you may not be able to get all the functionality you require straight away.
Make An Initial Sitemap
Now is a good time to make your initial sitemap. This way you will get an idea of what page templates and bespoke pages your website will need. Some of the initial pages you will need to consider include:
- Service Pages
- Product Categories
- Contact Page
We would also recommend discussing this with your marketing team, especially whoever will be handling your SEO or PPC campaigns. They will be able to give you some insight, based upon data, as to what pages would be useful to have. Your SEO consultant should also be able to advise on the best way in which each page should link to each other.
We’d also recommend you ask what they might want to do in the future, this can be a very open ended question, but might allow you to plan for the future and have a more seamless integration with your website rather than extra parts being hacked in at a later date.
Wireframing allows you to set out the template of your website. We would recommend that you complete wireframing in two stages, once before you discuss budget and then secondly after you discuss budget. This way you designers will be able to adjust the design in order to be expanded to your ‘ideal’ site in the future.
There are two things that you will need before you start wireframing:
- Front end functionalities – these are the functionalities and features that your websites users will actually see.
- Page Templates Required – this will allow you to know which wireframes you need to make.
Once you have these you can start the wireframing process. You do this by laying each section out using a tool such Wireframe.cc, which is also a free. During this process it’s important that you think about how people will use your site. With that in mind, we would recommend consulting with experts in both User Experience (UX) and Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO). These will be able to point you in the right direction as to where different things should be located on your website using their previous experience, industry best practises and data.
Budget The Design & Build
At this point you should have an exact idea of what you’d like your website to do. There may have been consulting costs previous to this, but your design and build costs are going to be the bulk of the project costs. So it’s at this point, when you want to find out what you can get for your money.
Our recommendation here would be to first sit down with your development agency and discuss the functionalities and the budget you have in mind. They should be able to tell you what’s realistic within the budget, but we wouldn’t recommend that you stop there. We would recommend that you go through your requirements and create a phased plan. This will give you a good idea of what could be achieved if you put further investment into your website in the future. It’s worth noting that these prices may rise if you wait too long between phases at certain companies.
So now you have an idea of what can be achieved, you may want to go through your wireframes again and make adjustments with these in mind.
By now you should have everything together and should be ready to get your website designed. This would be fairly straight forward and the designer should just need to take your wireframes and turn them into mock-ups of your website. Essentially taking everything you’ve got so far and making it look good.
There’s likely going to be amends during this process and we would recommend going back to your UX and CRO experts during this process in order to get further advice. After all, you want a website that not only looks good, but works well too.
Please note – sometimes Web Design can refer to front end development, here we are talking about the initial design process. This may need to be cleared up when looking for this service to avoid confusion.
Once your website has been designed you can send it to your development team in order to be become a functioning website. This will likely be built upon a developer server.
Once your website has been built and content entered you’ll have to look at putting your website live. Before the website is put live it’s worth having a final check over to go live, but also put to your different departments in order to make sure that everything’s working from their point of view. Each department is likely to have a “go-live” of different things to check. Once they’ve been completed and everyone’s happy the website can then go live, it’s also worth getting it checked over a second time once the website is live just to make sure it’s moved over correctly and as expected.
When checking the live site it’s important to ensure that search engines aren’t blocked in the robots.txt or meta robots. Developers usually put these in place to stop the development site being indexed, but it at times these can be accidentally transferred to the live site and could harm your traffic from search engines.
This guide should give a good idea of what needs to be go into planning a new website. Here at Pinnacle we can manage your new website projects from start to finish, if this is something you’d be interested in then please get in touch today. We’d be more than happy to discuss your needs and answer any questions you may have.