If anyone knows that planning a website can be a confusing time for people, it’s me. Many is the time I’ve had to help clients smooth out the path to cyber-bliss in their new online home.
To save you some uncertainty, I’ve laid out some important questions to answer in the planning stage below. Get these nailed and sorting out your site should be much easier.
What is the website for?
What is your new website going to do for you, your business or your organisation?
Being completely aware of your site’s goals will help you to plan and manage it with clarity and confidence. You’ll also find it easier to assess how well your site is succeeding and diagnose problems with it. When you’ve decided this, you can use it as a basis for figuring out your other important website goal question:
What do I want my website visitors to do on my site?
Most sites benefit from having a goal to draw visitors toward, especially if they belong to a business or other organisation. For some sites, like e-commerce shops, it’s obvious. For others, not so much. To help you figure yours out, here are the most common goals:
- Buy a product online (Shops)
- Book a meeting (Personal service providers)
- Subscribe or join (Regular services, clubs and magazines)
- Make a donation (Charities or pay-what-you-want services)
- Download something
- Read or view something
- Get in touch by phone or email
Pick one or more from the above that fits with your overall aims.
It’s useful to make one the primary goal above all others unless yours is a very large site.
When your goals are in place, plan your site to get visitors carrying them out for you. You can know more about how to get visitors to your website here
Make it SMART
All important goals should be:
- Relevant (to your business)
So, picking a bike shop as an example, you may aim to sell £10,000 of bikes and £5,000 of accessories in the first year. If you’re a business consultant, you may aim to get 20 introductory consultancy meeting bookings in your first quarter.
What written content am I going to use?
A web designer can reshape your written content to form the basis of a great website, but they do need good content to begin with. You have two options for getting the words together when you’re planning a website:
1. Write it yourself (or get one of your team to do it)
Nobody knows your business better than you, and the same is true of your plan for your new website. So, it follows that you, or someone who works with you, can write website content that is more personal to you than any other. Just keep the visitor and your goals in mind, as well as the needs of a site. It is important to note though that because you know your business inside out you may not have an outsiders perspective, looking from outside in is key in creating content that aligns with the customers and their needs.
If you choose this option, look at this post for tips.
2. Get it written for you
Expertly written content can make a huge difference to a website’s success in achieving its goals. It can also save you a lot of time and stress. The main piece of advice I can give in this case is to pick carefully. Go for a copywriter who…
- Has specialist website writing experience.
- Can work well with your web developer.
- Speaks to you to get a brief, rather than emailing.
- Knows how to write to achieve your website goals. Try telling them the goal and asking how they would adapt their writing to achieve it.
If we’re building a site for you, bear in mind that we have an in-house copywriter – Jamie – who meets all of these requirements.
Have I got reviews and testimonials?
When you’re planning a website, displaying reviews and testimonials can be useful for convincing people that your offers really are as good as you say they are. If you have them, get them out. If you don’t, see if you can get hold of some. Need more help getting the best reviews? Check out how to run a successful online shop
What images am I going to use?
Attractive, relevant photos that fit with your brand can make all the difference to a site. As with written content, you have a few options:
1. Hire a professional
For a really great look that is on-brand and completely bespoke to your business, there’s nothing better than hiring a pro. You can do this physically or virtually. Just make sure they know the imagery requirements of modern websites, as well as those of your web designer.
2. Use stock photos
Stock photo websites are a cheap and easy way to add a professional look to the images of your site. Unsplash.com, pixabay.com and pexels.com are three great stock photo sites that work just like search engines. All the photos are free to use. The downside is that these images are more generic and less on-brand than your own.
3. Break out the camera yourself
There’s nothing to stop you and your team from snapping your own photos. It’s a simple way to get bespoke, personal photos. Just go for high-res images, consider portrait versus landscape and leave some space around your subjects for cropping. Oh, and talk to your web designer before you start.
How am I going to bring people to my website?
One of the most important things I tell people who are planning a website is that people will not just drop by, no matter how good they are. Unlike a high street shop, you have to actually draw people to your site. The question you should ask when building your site is how you are going to do this.
I’ve actually written a blog answering this exact question, called ‘How do I get visitors to my website?’ – Check it out for an in-depth guide to pulling in the punters. In general, you can choose from the following methods:
- Social media
- Online ads, e.g. Google, Bing and most social networks
- Organic search and search engine optimisation (SEO)
- Links from other sites. (Backlinks)
Pick from these and start building your strategy.
A blog is another important promotion tool. It will work with most of the strategies above to vastly increase the results.
How am I going to bring people back to my website?
There’s a famous stat that says it takes 7 interactions with your business (touchpoints) before a customer will buy. Like most statistics, it’s a fudge. However, it’s true that a sale becomes more likely after your customer has engaged with your website multiple times.
That’s not to mention the financial benefits of bringing back a lot of your existing customers for more purchases. The main way to be sure of that return is…
Give them a reason to come back
You, like me, probably set aside time to come back and watch your favourite series every week (Stranger Things, anyone?). Do you set aside time to come back and watch the adverts though?
I’m guessing the answer is no, and that’s why your site needs to be like your favourite series, not like an advert. It needs to educate, entertain and inspire, not just sell, sell and sell. The marketing should only come after you have given the visitor a reason to engage with your site and return for more.
The tools for bringing people back
As well as being useful and entertaining, there are a few tools that will bring people back to your site again and again:
- Blogs – More space for you to be interesting, as well as an ongoing series for people to come back to.
- Emails – Get your site content and your blog in front of people on a regular basis and show off new offers to old customers.
- Social media – Turn your site into as much of a recurring must-see as their mates’ hilarious night out pics.
- What is the website for?
- What do I want my website visitors to do on my site?
- What written content am I going to use?
- Have I got reviews and testimonials?
- What images am I going to use?
- How am I going to bring people to my website?
- How am I going to bring people back to my website?
Need extra help planning a website?
Get these questions answered and you should be in the clear, as far as website planning is concerned. If you need some extra help preparing for your site, just email me on firstname.lastname@example.org . Advice is always free.