How To Plan A Website (…and get it right the first time!)

Measure twice - cut once!

How To Plan A Website (…and get it right the first time!)

It has occurred to me that I don’t really have set process for planing a website. Sure there are a few things I do. I look for other designs and styles that I like. I check out the competition. For clients I have a website brief document that when filled in gives myself and my designers enough information to make a start. But I don’t have a comprehensive, catch all, set process for helping myself and my clients get a decent plan down before we start. So that is what this blog post is about. To put in place, once and for all a fool proof process for planning a new website. I will take the processes that I currently use, a bit of research and hopefully some feedback from people reading this and get it all down in one place.
If we succeed in our mission then half cocked, half baked websites with no sense of direction will be a thing of the past. Web designers and developers around the world will have a sense of purpose again. Clients will be happy with their websites and generate lots of leads and sales. I will get my life back and meet the girl of my dreams and Donald Trump won’t get in to the white house.
Let’s put the effort in beforehand and plan things properly so that we all know what we are doing and then physically building the damn thing will be walk in the park because we prepared properly and got our sh*t together! Everyone will be much happier…

Right. Down to business. Here is an inspirational quote:

>What we find is that if you have a goal that is very, very far out, and you approach it in little steps, you start to get there faster. Your mind opens up to the possibilities.=

– Mae Jemison

With that in mind. What is the end goal? Why are we even building a website in the first place? What do you hope to acheive? New sales? To show off your business to existing clients? Lead generation? Brand awareness etc etc.? What is the end goal?


Step 1 – Establish your end goal and the call to action of the website
Do you know what a call to action is? If not Google it but briefly the call to action of a website means nudging the user towards carrying out a specific action. Here is an example:

Call to action example

See what they did there..?

In the example above the whole purpouse of the website is to get users to fill the form in and submit their details to the company. The call to action of this website is lead generation for office space in New York City. Notice how it’s bright red with arrows pointing at it? That is to draw your attention. That is a call to action.
So what is the call to action of your website? What is the end goal? Once you know that then you can start putting the plan in place to make it happen. For the benefit of this article lets pretend you are a carpet fitter based in York.

Step 2 – Research!

What are your competitors doing? Start spying on the competition and stealing their ideas. Make notes. What do you like about their websites? What don’t you like? How are they offering their customers value? What is their USP? If I am working with a local business / service / tradesman etc such as a carpet fitter than what I normally do is Google that service in London:

search results page for carpet fitters in london

The search results for London

If a company is showing up at the top of google for [insert service here] London then the chances are they are well established, successful and generally got their act together. So start here and have a poke around!

Step 3 – Get the structure of your website down

Based on your goals, research and any other ideas write a list of all the pages you need on your website to point users towards your call to action. How are you going to show off your service? You better have some examples on there of carpets you have fitted in the past, right?
Write a list of pages that you will need on your website.

Step 4 – content

content is king graphic

You can have the best website going but if your content isn’t up to scratch then it’s dead in the water.

Write all of the content for each page on your website. Then get some decent pictures and graphics to go with it. Then pass it round your family, friends and associates for feedback. Then tweak it. Then leave it a few days and go back to it again after and tweak it again! This is the most important part of the whole process. You content is what you use to sell your service and push your call to action.

Step 5 – build the website

Now you are armed and ready to go and conquer the world with your new website. That didn’t take long did it? Now that we have put the effort in and we know what we are doing our lives are much easier and you will end up with a much better product from me.

Win / win : )

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