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Website Planning Process – Part 1

This is Part 1 of a three-part series of articles about the website planning process.

Are you considering the idea of taking your business online?

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 choices have pros and cons. Whichever choice you select will depend on various factors such as:

If your budget is limited and you want to save money, you could decide to build the site yourself, but it goes without saying that you will need to spend 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

Understanding The Website Planning Process

Whether you choose to build a website yourself or get someone else to build it for you, the first crucial step is to plan your website. In this post, we explain why planning your small business website is important and what to do before building a website.

Planning your website or blog is regarded by many web business experts to be the most important aspect in building a successful website. Careful planning before you begin helps to avoid costly mistakes later and results in a better end end product.

Below, you will find a comprehensive blueprint for non-technical users to help you better understand the process of planning a website for your business. We will also cover the do’s and don’ts of planning a website or blog, and give you tips on how to talk to your web designer to ensure that you get a website that will perfectly meet your budget and suit your needs.

Important: Before setting up a website or registering a domain name for your web site, it is absolutely vital that you first spend a little time re-evaluating your marketing strategy.

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

The Website Planning Process Simplified

So … you have decided that you need a website.

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

Take a look at the flowchart below, and let’s work step-by-step through the information on this page together.

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

(click here to view a larger-sized flowchart)

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

Once you have downloaded and printed out the flowchart, grab some 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 over the next 15-35 minutes.

Step 1 – Your Website Goals

Regardless of the kind of website you want to build, the first step is to define one or more clear goals for your site and make it as specific as you can.

Ask yourself these questions:

For example, your main goal could be to:

List whatever goals you want your website 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 pick the goal that has overriding importance above all others.

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

Now, review your list and repeat this process to find at least two more goals and write these down on your flowchart 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?

Adding a website is going to pile on a ton of extra responsibilities on your plate.

Your website planning process is an integral aspect of your business marketing planning processes. It’s important, therefore, that you continually 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:

Once you have listed at least 1-3 goals and written these down in your planning chart, return to “Goal 1” and ask yourself this question: “how am I going to measure this goal?”

In other words, what metrics will you use to assess your website’s performance? How will you know if your website is on track to help you achieve your business objectives?

For example, your website’s goal could be getting a certain number of leads each week through your site’s contact form, or getting “X” number of new list subscribers per week, etc …

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: Keep your goals as flexible as possible at this stage, so you can modify these once more information is gathered from your site from site visitors.

Step 2 – Website Name

Once you have clearly identified your goals, the next step is to name your web site.

This is another important step in the website planning process, so take your time to 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 using the name of your company, especially if the 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 the shoes of your ideal user. Who would be searching online for the very product or service your company sells? 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 users.

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

Go online and do a little research to find out what other companies in your industry or niche have named their sites. Study your competition, especially those who occupy the search results that you would like your site to come up in.

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

(Research ideas for the name of your website or blog)

So … this is the time to get inspired. Make a huge list of possible names and then begin narrowing your list down.

Once you have reduced your list down to the best choices, repeat the same process as above to create a description, tagline or unique value proposition for your web site.

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

Including keywords in your 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 site and decide that your business blog should have its own domain name, 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 web site. For example, you can register keyword-rich domain names (i.e. domains containing the keyword that you would like to rank for in the search engines), expired domain names (a domain that the previous owners have decided not to renew and are available to be registered once again, different top level domains and domain name extensions, etc.)

Tip: Subscribe to this site for useful strategies on registering domains and tips on developing and implementing your web marketing strategy.

Step 3 – Manage Your Technology

After choosing a name and description for your web site, the next step is to have a clear plan specifying how you are going to manage the technology that is going to host, support and help power your online marketing vehicle.

We strongly encourage you to consider using 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 popular CMS platform, and, as you can see below, WordPress powers over 40% of the world’s CMS-driven websites.

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

A WordPress-based website or blog is ideal for publishing content and communicating your business information to users and potential customers.

A website or blog created with WordPress allows you to engage with site visitors and makes things like posting content, special offers, promotions, news and announcements about your product or 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 essential features like file and data backups and software upgrades can easily be automated.

In fact, many businesses no longer build their websites using traditional website building applications. More sites around the world are now being powered with WordPress, which can provide businesses and their users with all of the functionality and capabilities of regular websites.

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

Website Hosting And Site Management

As well as using WordPress to power your website, you should also decide how you are going to host your website, and if you are going to let professionals manage your web presence, or manage your site yourself.

(Web Site Hosting & Web Management)

We use and recommend WordPress for many business uses, and we also provide more detailed information about the WordPress CMS and expert advice on areas like how to register domain names, webhosting and website management in other articles on this site.

If you need help, feel free to contact us for assistance.

Step 4 – Your Audience

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

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

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

To work through this process, begin by asking lots of questions, like:

Being able to define your website’s key target audience is a vital step in the website planning process and it will help you communicate better with the web developer and everyone else assisting you in developing your website, which will then ensure that you end up with a great website that you will truly be happy with.

(Source: Pixabay)


This is the end of Part 1

To keep reading this article, click here:

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Additional images: Notebook, Map, Server, Startup.


"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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