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Website Planning Process – Part 1

This is Part One of a 3-part series of articles about how to plan your website.

Are you considering the idea of taking your small business online?

One of the many decisions you have to make is whether or not to build this site yourself, or get someone else to help build your web site.

Both choices have pros and cons. Whatever choice you pick will depend on a number of things such as:

If your budget is limited and you want to save money, you could choose to create your website yourself, but it goes without saying that you will need to invest some time figuring out how to put your site 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 Business Website - A Basic Blueprint For Business Owners

Whether you choose to build a website yourself or get it built by someone else, the first crucial step is to plan your website. In this blog post, we explain in simple terms the importance of planning your business web site and how to save money getting a web site for your business.

Proper website planning is considered by many online strategists as being one of the most important steps in the process of getting your website built. Taking some time to carefully plan your site before you begin can help you prevent costly mistakes later and create a better end product.

Below, we have compiled a comprehensive practical guide for non-technical users designed to help you better understand the website planning process. We will also cover what to do and what not to do when planning a website or blog, and give you tips on how to brief your web designer to ensure that you end up with a website that will perfectly meet your budget, suit your needs and deliver you the type of results you want.

Important: Before setting up a website or registering a domain name for your online presence, it’s vitally important that you first research your market.

Building a successful digital presence requires more than just getting a professional website and business blog set up. It requires in addition to lots of other things, a commitment to develop and implement an ongoing web marketing strategy.

The Site Planning Process Explained

So … you have decided that you need a web presence.

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

Study the flowchart below, and let’s work step-by-step through the information in this section together.

Note: To view a larger image click on the image or the link below the image.

(click here to enlarge flowchart)

To make the process easier to follow, you will want to download and print the Website Planning Flowchart shown above.

Once you have downloaded and printed out the website planning flowchart, grab some paper and a pen, or whatever you takes notes on, so you can jot down your thoughts and ideas as we walk you through the process. Also, make sure that you will not have any distractions over the next 25-35 minutes.

Step 1 – Defining Your Website Goals

No matter what type of site you are planning to build, the first step is to define one or more clear goals for your web site and make these goals as specific as possible.

Ask yourself the following questions:

For example, your goal could be to:

Write down whatever goals you want your site to help you achieve on your Website Planning worksheet, a blank sheet of paper, or wherever you are recording this information.

Once you have written your list, go through the list and choose the goal that is most important to you.

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

Now, review your list and repeat this process to find 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 back to your business marketing plan to make sure that you have the resources and capabilities to implement any strategies you set to help you achieve your goals.

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

After selecting at least 1-3 goals and written these down in your planning chart, go back to “Goal 1” and ask yourself this question: “how will I measure this goal?”

In other words, what benchmarks are you going to use to evaluate your website’s performance? How will you know if your website is on track to help you achieve your goals?

For example, your website’s objective could be getting a specific target amount of leads to submit an enquiry each week through the contact form on your website, or signing up “X” amount of new list subscribers per week, etc …

Also, think about the resources and costs associated with managing the process of measuring 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 re-evaluate these as more information is collected from users.

Step 2 – Web Site Name

After you have clearly identified your goals, the next step is to name your website.

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

Brainstorm your ideas or mastermind 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 of you.

Put yourself in the shoes of an online customer. Who would be looking online for the very thing your company sells? What would they be typing into a search engine or browser to find you? Once you know the answer, try to come up with a name that would entice your potential customers.

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

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

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

(Researching name ideas for your web site or blog)

So … this is the step where you can get inspired. Make a big list of names and then begin narrowing these down.

After narrowing this list down to the most likely candidates, repeat the same process as above to craft a description, tagline or unique value proposition for your website or blog.

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

Include keywords in your website’s name and description.

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

There are different strategies you can use to register domains names for your website. For example, you can register keyword-rich domain names (i.e. domains that contain the keyword you want to rank highly for in search engines), expired domain names (domain names that the previous owners have decided not to renew and are now available for registration once more, other top level domains and domain name extensions, etc.)

Tip: Subscribe to our site for useful strategies on registering domains and tips on how to develop a successful online marketing strategy.

Step 3 – Manage Your Site’s Technology

After choosing a name and description for your website, the next step is to create a clear plan for managing the technology that will host, support and help you drive your site.

We recommend building your site with WordPress.

(Use WordPress to build your site)

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

WordPress is also the world’s most popular web content management system, and, as you can see below, WordPress powers over 45% of the world’s CMS-driven websites.

(WordPress - the world’s leading CMS (Content Management System))

A WordPress website or blog provides an ideal digital application platform for publishing content and communicating information about your business to your existing and potential customers.

A website or blog powered by WordPress lets you interact 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. In fact, no coding is required to publish content on a WordPress site, and managing 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 static websites built using traditional website building technologies. More websites are now being powered with “blogging” software like WordPress, which can provide businesses and their users with all of the functions and capabilities of regular websites.

If you would like to have better management and control of your own web marketing and don’t have the time, need or desire to learn “web programming” languages such as HTML, then you should consider choosing a WordPress-powered business website or blog.

Website Hosting & Website Management

In addition to using WordPress to power your website, you should also think about how you are going to host your website, and if to let others manage your site, or manage your own web site.

(Hosting And Managing Your Site)

We use and recommend WordPress for many business applications, and we also provide more detailed information about WordPress and tips on areas like how to register domain names, how to choose a good webhost and website management in other articles on this site.

If you need help, just contact us for assistance.

Step 4 – Your Site’s Audience

After you have completed the initial planning steps above, then it’s time to define who your website’s target audience is.

You will need to know key information about your web site’s target audience, such as:

It’s very important that you try and create as accurate a profile of your ideal site users as you can. Try to picture the ideal person that you will be communicating directly with and presenting your information 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 with your website, and ensure that you get a website that will truly suit your needs and budget.

(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 AMAZING! I had learnt about how to use WordPress previously, but this covers absolutely everything and more!! Incredible value! Thank you!" - Monique, Warrior Forum

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