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Website Planning Process – Part 1

This is Part 1 of a three-part series of articles designed to help you understand the website planning process.

Are you considering the idea of getting a website or blog for your business?

If so, one of the most important decisions you have to make is whether or not to build the site yourself, or get someone to help build your website.

Both options have pros and cons. Whichever choice you select will depend on things such as:

If you have a small budget and you want to save money, you could opt to develop your web site yourself, but it goes without saying that you will then need to invest time learning how to put it all together.

Before planning your website you need to plan your digital business and ask questions about the capabilities of your business to manage and grow a digital presence.

To help small businesses plan an effective digital presence, we have published an e-book called “The Small Business Digital Manager.”

‘The Small Business Digital Manager’ looks at why most small businesses end up with an unmanageable web presence almost as soon as they take their business online and why this leads to poor results, and shows you how to be in control of your digital business processes and get better results online using a systematic and doable approach.

In addition to the book, we have also developed a comprehensive online course that will help you implement a practical and effective digital plan for your business.

For more details, go here: The Small Business Digital Manager – How To Get Better Results Online

How To Plan Your Website – What To Do And What Not To Do

Whether you decide to build a website yourself or get someone to build it for you, the first crucial step is to get your website planning done. In this blog post, we explain why better website planning can help your business and what to avoid doing when planning a website for your small business.

Website planning is considered by many web business experts as being one of the most important steps of the process of getting a website for your business. Taking some time to carefully plan your web site upfront can help you prevent costly errors later and create a better end product.

In this post, we provide a comprehensive guide for non-technical users that will help you better understand the process of planning your website. We will also cover what to do and what not to do when planning a business website, and give you tips on how to talk to your web developer to make sure that you get a website that will truly work for your business.

Important: before you even think of setting up a website or registering a domain for your digital business, it’s vitally important that you first do a little market research.

Developing a successful online business presence requires more than just having a professional website or business blog set up. It also requires in addition to lots of other things, a commitment to developing and implementing an ongoing web marketing strategy.

The Website Planning Process Explained

So … you want a website.

Let’s start, then, with an overview of the website planning process.

Before doing anything else, take a look at the flowchart below, and let’s work step-by-step through the information in this post together.

Note: Click on the image or the link below the image to enlarge the flowchart.

(click here to enlarge flowchart)

To make this process easy to follow, we recommend downloading and printing the Website Planning Process Flowchart shown above.

After downloading and printing out the flowchart, grab some sheets of paper and a pen, or whatever you takes notes on, so you can write down your thoughts and ideas as we take you through the process. Also, make sure to shut out all distractions for the next 30-45 minutes.

Step 1 – Website Goals

Regardless of the kind of website you are planning to build, the first step is to define one or more goals for your web site and make these as specific as you can.

Try to answer the the following questions:

For example, your goal could be to:

Record as many goals and objectives as you can think of for your web site on your worksheet, a blank sheet of paper, or wherever you are recording this process.

After you have written your list, go through your list and select the goal that has overriding importance above all others.

Write this goal down on your planning sheet (in “Your Website Goals” section) as “Goal 1“.

Now, go back over your list and repeat this process to find at least two more goals and record these in your planning chart as “Goal 2” and “Goal 3“.

You’ve probably heard the old saying “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.”

But, what if you already can’t manage?

Running a website is going to to add a ton of additional things you will need to manage.

Your website planning process is an integral aspect of your business marketing planning process. It’s important, therefore, that you continue to refer to your marketing plan to make sure that you have the resources and capabilities to implement the strategies that will help you achieve your goals.

So, with this in mind, let’s do the following right now:

Once you have identified at least 1-3 goals and written these down in your process chart, go back to “Goal 1” and ask yourself this question: “how will I measure this goal?”

In other words, how are you going to quantify and review your results? How will you know if your site is on track to help you achieve your business goals?

For example, your site’s objective could be getting a certain target amount of leads each week via your site’s contact form, or getting “X” amount of opt-in subscribers per week, etc …

Think about the resources and costs associated with managing the process of monitoring your goals. If you need to, revise your business plan to accommodate your findings.

Note: It’s also important to keep your goals as flexible as possible at this stage, so you can readjust these once more feedback is collected from visitors.

Step 2 – Site Name

After you have clearly identified your website’s goals, the next step is to come up with an appropriate name for your site.

This is an important part of the website planning process, so take your time and think carefully about what you are going to name your site.

Brainstorm ideas with others. Call a few customers (or potential customers if you haven’t launched your business yet) and get their input.

Try to think beyond just the name of your company, especially if your name isn’t something that immediately brings up your products or services to mind. Remember, most online users have probably never heard about you.

Put yourself in your ideal customer’s shoes. Who would be searching online for the very product or service you sell? What would they be typing into a search engine or browser to find you? Once you know this, try to come up with a name that would entice your prospects.

Note: You can be creative and clever with the name, but try to avoid being “too clever”. the same can be said about choosing a catchy, memorable or a stand out name. It can be a fun or quirky name, but it’s best to try and avoid names that may sound offensive (and definitely stay away from trademarked or registered names or phrases – you’ll just be inviting trouble!)

If you go online, you can easily find out what other companies in your industry or niche are naming their sites. Study your competitors, especially sites that occupy the search results that you would like to appear in.

For example, if you are planning to start a cooking blog, doing a quick search online for “cooking blog” reveals some memorable site names like: “Smitten Kitchen”, “Cooking With Amy”, “A Chef’s Daughter”, ”Worth The Whisk” and more …

(Research ideas for your website or blog’s name)

So … this is the time to get inspired. Make a big list of potential names and then start narrowing your list down.

Once you have narrowed the list of names down to the most likely choices, repeat the same process as above to craft a description, tagline or slogan for your site.

Your description should be concise and inform the reader with as few words as possible what your website or blog is all about. For example, in one of the food blogs we came across while searching online, their description was “Fast, Fresh, and Simple Recipes Easy Enough for Tonight’s dinner.”

Including keywords in your web site’s name and description can also be useful.

After completing this step, it’s time to look at your domain name. If you plan to add a blog to your existing web site and decide that your blog should be its own entity, then go ahead and register a new domain name for your site.

There are different strategies you can use to register domains names for your site. For example, you can register keyword-rich domain names (i.e. domains that contain the key phrase you want to rank well for in the search engines), expired domain names (a domain that the previous owners have decided not to renew and that have been made available for registration again, different top level domain names and domain name extensions, etc.)

Tip: Subscribe to our site for practical strategies on registering domains and tips on developing a successful web site marketing strategy.

Step 3 – Manage Your Technology

Once you have decided on a name and description for your web site, the next step is to develop a clear plan for managing the technology that will host, support and help power your online marketing vehicle.

We strongly recommend using WordPress.

(WordPress)

WordPress is not only a robust web-building platform, but it is also easy-to-manage and great for non-technical users.

WordPress is also the world’s most widely used content management system (CMS), and, as you can see below, WordPress powers almost half of the world’s CMS-driven websites.

(WordPress is the world’s most widely used Content Management System (CMS))

A WordPress-driven site is an ideal web technology platform for publishing content and communicating information about your business to visitors and potential clients.

A business website or blog built using WordPress allows you to interact better with site visitors and makes things like posting content, special offers, promotions, news and announcements about your services, company or industry very easy, especially if you have little to no technical web skills. No coding is, in fact, required to publish content on a WordPress site, and managing necessary tasks like site backups and software upgrades can easily be automated.

In fact, many large companies, small to medium businesses, educational institutions, organizations and well-known brands no longer use a static website built using traditional website building technologies. More websites around the world are now being powered by technologies like WordPress, which can provide businesses and their users with all of the features and capabilities of a regular website.

If you want to have better management and control of your own web marketing and don’t have the time, need or desire to learn technical “web programming” languages such as HTML, then you should consider building your website or blog with WordPress.

Hosting & Web Site Management

As well as using WordPress to power your website, you should also think about who is going to host your website, and if you plan to outsource the management of your site to professionals, or manage your own site.

(Hosting & Web Site Management)

We use and recommend WordPress for many business needs, and we provide more information about the WordPress CMS and tips on subjects like domain name registration, finding a good host and website management in other articles on this site.

If you need help or advice choosing your technology platform, please contact us for assistance.

Step 4 – Defining Your Website Audience

After you have the initial planning steps we’ve discussed so far figured out, then it’s time to define who your website’s target audience will be.

Key information about your site’s target audience includes the following:

It’s important to spend time creating as accurate a profile of your target users as possible. Try to picture the ideal person that you will be communicating directly with and presenting your content to.

Begin this process by asking lots of questions, like the following:

Having the ability to define your website’s key target audience is an important step in the website planning process and it will help you communicate better with your web developer and everyone else assisting you in developing your website, and help to ensure that you end up with a website that will perfectly meet your budget and suit your needs.

(Source: Pixabay)

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This is the end of Section 1

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Additional images: Notebook, Map, Server, Startup.

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"This is an awesome training series. I have a pretty good understanding of WordPress already, but this is helping me to move somewhere from intermediate to advanced user!" - Kim Lednum

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