How To Plan a Website

So you want to build a website for your business, but don’t know where to start? With all the available website builders, such as Weebly, Wix, and Squarespace, it can get confusing. Don’t worry–we’ve got you covered. Before committing and shelling out money, we highly recommend doing a few housekeeping tasks.

This is part of how we start when building a site for our clients.

 Bonus: our advice here won’t cost you a thing.
 Extra Bonus: If we’ve lost you somewhere, book a free 30 minute consultation with us and we can talk about it in detail one-on-one.

In any case, these are things you can do before reaching out to anybody, and this will save you valuable resources like time and money down the line.

Preamble

There are two main things that you will need to build your website, a hosting server and a Content Management System (CMS). However, if you are using a website builder such as Weebly, Wix, Shopify, or Squarespace, don’t worry about this. They will be built in with your subscription. Keep in mind that you will lose flexibility in customizing the look of your site when using a drag and drop website builder.

There are pros and cons to this, but we digress…

Finally, there are a lot of hosting servers available, such as GoDaddy, SiteGround, HostGator, etc., and you can’t go too horribly wrong with any of them. If you do, you can always transfer your website to a different server. So, your server choice would depend on 1) how much you want to pay and 2) the services offered at different price points. Your CMS will be provided by your server. Now comes the fun part: deciding your CMS.

Step One: Defining Your Website's Purpose

Ask yourself this question: What do you want to use for your website for? Are you looking to build an ecommerce website, a blog, or are you going to use your website as a digital sandwich board? Will you have static pages or will your pages need to be constantly updated? If it’s a combination, think about your technical capabilities, the amount of time you can realistically dedicate to website maintenance, and your overall budget for your website.

Generally:

WordPress: Minimal to Intermediate technical knowledge required. Highly recommended for blogs, and most businesses that want to be self-sufficient in website maintenance.

Joomla: Intermediate to advanced technical knowledge required. Boasts higher security than WordPress. Advanced user management scheme, which is great for a business that has a team to maintain the website.

Drupal: Advanced technical knowledge required, geared towards developers. Completely custom website. Offers first class security.

 Tip: Everyone wants to make sure that their website is secure, but don’t overlook WordPress on that front. After all, around 35% of the internet runs on WordPress, including the New Yorker and BBC America.  If you have a business with minimal website requirements, Joomla or Drupal is most likely overkill. 99% of the time, you wouldn’t use a katana to slice an onion.

Confused? It’s best to consult a professional to discuss what are your options are, the pros and cons of each option, and the best way to move forward.

Step Two: Planning Your Website

Think about how you want your website to look like, in terms of framework. Think about how many pages your website will have, what kind of content each page or section will have, the order of those pages. Are you envisioning the classic look: a home page, a navigational menu with links to multiple pages? Or are you thinking of having a one page website with anchor links to different parts of that page? The driving factor in this step is to think about what your consumers experience when they visit your website.

Also, it wouldn’t hurt to draw it. Just because we do digital work doesn’t mean that we’ve completely abandoned pen and paper.

Tip: Try not to focus on small details and fine tuning at this stage, we’re just working on the framework right now. Trust us, it’s incredibly easy to get lost in the details when building a website, and it’s extremely time consuming once you’re in that rabbit hole.

Step Three: Drafting Content and Copy

Now that you’ve got the framework visualized, it’s time to think about what content will be on those pages. Make a list of items that you want each page to absolutely have!

Here’s an example:

Home Page: call to action phrase, brief intro

About Page: about business, about team

Contact Page: location, hours, phone number, email

Privacy Policy Page

Terms of Use Page

Then comes the hard work of writing copy to fill out exactly what you want displayed on your site. Take your time with this.

You’ll thank us later when all you have to do is copy and paste when you’re actually building.

Tip: Start with the easiest page, in most cases, it’s the contact page. Think about adding important key words in certain pages of your website, which will help with your Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Step Three: Gather Visual References

Our last step is to gather references for how you would like your site to look like. Take a look at your competitors’ sites and see if there are elements that you like (or don’t like). It’s also a good idea to look at the sites of a leading businesses in your industry for inspiration.  Look at different website header, footer, and menu designs.  Pick which ones appeal to you more. Pick a color scheme. Gather logos, photos and other media that you know you want to display on your website. Decide on fonts. Decide text header styles. 

Tip: Save your references (photos, screenshots, etc.) in one local folder for easy access.

With these steps done, you’re closer to helping your business succeed. 

One final piece of advice from us is to always leave room for improvisation. There may be some things that you haven’t considered placing or adding because you’re not in front of a CMS just yet. So try not to plan and tie everything together at this stage. The main idea is to prepare all the big items you will need to get your website up and running.

Now, it’s time to decide: purchase a plan with a server and build your website or get in touch with a professional for help.

We’re just going to leave a link to claim a free 30 minute consultation with us here. No pressure.

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