So you’ve decided it’s time for a new website, that’s great! No matter if you’re building the site yourself or having a professional, like NEXTFLY, build it for you, you’ll need a plan. To help you develop this plan, we’ve compiled a checklist of information that you’re going to need throughout the development of your site. This information will not only help you make a better site but will keep you focused throughout the project.
This isn’t a complete list, just a guideline for the basic information you’ll need to start building your new website. If you want a complete rundown of the planning process, give us a call and we’ll schedule a meeting to discuss everything that goes into designing a website.
Who are you and what are you trying to do? You don’t need to get philosophical, but make sure you have an idea of how you want to be portrayed on your website and anywhere else you have a digital presence.
Your goal of the site is its purpose, your reason for making the site. Defining the goal of your website will help focus your design and content to help meet this goal. You will want to keep this goal in mind as you write content and choose tools for your site.
Common goals for the website include:
- Selling Products
- Selling Professional Services
- Providing Information and Resources
Want to read more about developing the goal and purpose of a website? Read more here!
How much are you willing to spend? If you’re planning to do this yourself, you need to take into account that your time is money. If you’re hiring someone to build the site for you, you’ll need a quote, and then assume it’s going to be more than that. Delays inevitably come up, and it’s better to expect to spend more than to be caught in a situation where you didn’t budget enough.
Your Target Audience
Who do you want to visit your site? What kind of information will they be looking for? What will they be expecting to do with your site, and how will they come to the site?
What Your Competitors are Doing
Taking a look at your competitor’s websites will give you a better idea of what your customers are comparing you to. While you don’t want to copy their design, you can get a good idea of what’s working and what’s not. Ask yourself what kind of information and content they have, and if it’s effective at meeting their site’s goals.
While the design is rather subjective, there are certain guidelines to adhere to. However, you should still be happy with how the site works and looks. Here are some questions that will help you determine your style and help give you (or your designer) something to start with.
- What design themes are common in your industry
- What sites your target audience are visiting
- What sites do you like, and what do you like about them (Color/Format/Navigation)
- Your company’s brand or style guide (Why is this important?)
- Audience’s viewing habits
Researching keywords is a huge step in your planning process. Not only will using the right keywords earn you a higher ranking in a search result, but it will also attract the right kind of visitors, visitors who are looking for what you’re providing. These keywords will be used in content throughout the site and with any other online presence (social media), so it’s worth spending time researching the right keywords for your needs.
Who’s Doing the Work
Websites take a lot of work, even after the fact. Before you get started, you need to know who’s going to actually build the site, write the content, and then maintain the site. If that’s you, great! You’re all set! If you’re hiring someone else to do the work, you should agree on expectations when it comes to budget, deadlines, etc.
You may need some tools to help meet the goals of your website. Are you going to need a shopping cart so people can buy products directly from you? A blog to share information with your audience? Social media buttons so people can follow you? These are all things to consider before starting to build the actual site.
Are you going to be measuring traffic? (You should be!) If yes, then what analytic tools will you need to install on your site? For best results, you should start measuring your web traffic as soon as your site is live. This gives you a baseline to show growth based on any changes. When you start to promote your site through social channels, you’ll be able to track how many visits to your website are from your tweets and posts.
Earlier we mentioned how your audience’s viewing habits, Depending on the demographic, may be coming in through mobile searches. Did you know that mobile traffic accounts for 15% of global internet traffic? That’s A LOT of time spent on a mobile device, and if your website isn’t optimized for mobile, you may be missing out on potential viewers and customers. But having a mobile site isn’t enough anymore. Users expect mobile sites to work just as well, if not better than regular websites. So if you’re going to optimize your website for mobile, you want to make sure you’re planning and budgeting to have a functioning mobile site.
A website overhaul is a massive undertaking, that requires plenty of planning thought before you can even think about <h1> tags. Knowing this information beforehand will make it easier to create a site that meets your needs, and that you’re also happy with.
Ready to get started on your site, but don’t know where to start? NEXTFLY works with you through the entire web design process to make sure you’re getting the exact size you wanted. Let’s have a chat and see what NEXTFLY can do for your web design needs.