Launching your website without planning it out beforehand is a really bad idea. You should never be pressured into building and launching a site before you're ready to do so because it can end up having a hugely negative effect. Not only will your site most likely fail to achieve whatever goals you may have had, but a failed website can end up tarnishing your brand's reputation. So how exactly do you plan your website properly in order to give it a better chance at succeeding?
The following are a few steps that you must take in the planning stages of your site:
1. Establish your goals
Before you begin planning your site, you should figure out exactly what your goals are. Without goals, you won't be able to track the performance of your website once it goes live. How will you know if your website design is successful or not if you don't have any goals to measure them against? Not to mention that much of the planning process should revolve around what your goals are, whether it's to increase brand exposure, generate leads, generate sales or a combination of goals.
2. Plan the site structure
Determine what pages will be on your site, such as an about page, a contact page, a blog page and the like. These pages should meet the needs of your business. If you're planning on selling products and services through your site, you'll want an e-commerce page - but this is not necessary if you don't plan on doing so. If you're focusing on capturing leads, you'll want your calls-to-action to lead to landing pages. You should decide what features you want on each page as well before you create a mock up, which is basically a blueprint of the site structure.
3. Plan the site design
Good website design and layout should focus on the usability and aesthetics of the site. A poorly designed site can not only be aesthetically unpleasing to the eye (which reflects poorly on the professionalism of your brand), but can also make it difficult for visitors to find what they are looking, which can drive them away. The following are some of the elements of a good website design to keep in mind:
- The site should be easy to navigate, meaning a menu bar with clearly labeled links to all of your pages should be accessible from every page. A search function helps make the site even easier to navigate. Poor navigation will frustrate visitors.
- The site should load quickly. Too many graphics can slow down a site's load time. Visitors don't have the patience to wait.
- Text should be easy to read. It should be large enough to read, be in a legible font and be in a color that is a contrast to the background colour.
- The style and colour of each page should be consistent with every other page as well as with your branding.
- The site should use a responsive design so that it can be viewed properly no matter what size the screen is it's being viewed on.
4. Plan your content strategy
Content is the foundation of all inbound marketing strategies. Even if your structure and design is complete, you shouldn't launch without a content strategy. You need to identify who you're writing for, what kind of content you will be publishing (blog posts, videos, pictures), who will be creating your content, how often you'll be publishing content and how you will promote it.
For information on our five-stage methodology for successful website design, call us today.