Looking to launch your website but not entirely sure how to plan it? We’re here to help.
But first before we get into how to plan a website, let me just highlight some surprising project planning statistics:
- An astounding 97% of organizations believe project management is critical to business performance and organizational success. (Source: PricewaterhouseCoopers)
- For every $1 billion invested in the United States, $122 million was wasted due to lacking project performance. (Source: PMI.org)
- Fewer than a third of all projects were successfully completed on time and on budget over the past year. (Source: Standish Group)
All this to say, planning is essential for any project, let alone a website. You may have a developer to create a website for you but think of your website as a project that you’re heading. In this article, we will attempt to make planning as easy as possible, helping you checklist all that you require. It’s a good idea to go through each of the points mentioned below with a notepad so you can write down actionable items as well as points to go back to, to discuss with your designer & developer.
1. Set your targets and goals: Assess why you want a website. Is it to sell products & services? Is it to build awareness? Is it a social website? Is it to communicate or educate or motivate? Or is it to generate leads?
Assessing the why helps you with the what. What type of website should you look to build? Should it be a single page brochure website? Should it have a Facebook comments section? Should it have pagination or infinite scroll?
The objective of your website will help you decide & chalk out how you want your website to look and more importantly, how you want it to function.
In your notepad, write down not more than 3 of the most important goals of your website that you can share with your designer & developer.
2. Define your target audience: Once you’ve got your goals down, it’s time to define your target audience.
Write down the answers to these questions in your notepad:
- Who is going to use your website?
- What will they do while on your website?
- What time of the day will they visit?
- How will they find your website? (What search engine keywords are you going to use?)
- What device will they use to access your website?
Answers to these questions will help you think deeper about your design, about colours, calls-to-action buttons, responsiveness, optimising for search engines etc.
3. Budget for your project: It’s always wise to set a budget no matter how large or small your project is. In your notepad, jot down all your possible expenses for the website. The could include spending for design tools, funds for web development, web hosting, domains etc.
In your notepad, jot down your expenses. Anything you might spend on – images, resources, tools.
4. Set up your team: A website requires experts in design, development and most importantly, a project manager. A team will help you:
- Free yourself of tasks as you oversee the project
- Provide expertise in specific areas (a developer would know what best plugin to use for a function, for example)
- Have your website up & running within a timeline
You will need a:
- Web Designer
- Web Developer
- SEO, SEM expert
- Graphic Designer
- Content Writer
Ensure you communicate your goals with the parties so that they’re on the same page.
Already have a team in mind? Put names against each role.
5. Create a content strategy: Assess what content your website will contain. Content does not necessarily mean text. It could include videos, images, blogs, documents, slideshows etc.
Content strategy is understanding how to present the content that you have on your website. Also, hire professional writers if need be and invest in stock images for your website sliders & banners.
6. Discuss a wireframe with your designer & developer: The last and final step in the planning process is to discuss & create a wireframe with your designer. A wireframe is an outline or a draft of your website. A wireframe could include placeholder text, boxes to indicate banners, sliders & navigation for the website & footer. Your designer will give you a wireframe for your website. You will need to sign off on it.
A wireframe helps visualise the final website as well as lets your team provide inputs for the next few steps.
Once you’ve got the planning process down, it’s half the battle won. Your next steps involve working with your designer & developer toward designing, testing & marketing. We’ve covered most of these in earlier articles. Here are some useful articles to check out:
- Getting the Web Design Process Right – Because Process is Everything!
- User Testing: Introduction, Benefits, How-to-Create & Best Practices
- Advanced Ways to Optimize Your Landing Pages for Multi-channel Marketing
Another really important aspect (and often neglected aspect) of project management is time management. Here’s our hand picked list of the Top 5 Time Management Tools to Meet Your Deadlines!
Lastly, ensure you communicate with your designer & developer often so you can have your ideas integrated. Here are some cool collaboration tools for you and your designers to communicate:
Got experience with project management & planning a website? We’d love to hear it in the comments below.