Plan a Website Before You Build One

Posted by Marty Dickinson on May 24, 2007

Planning a web site is one of the most difficult pieces of the Internet process. Why? Because it all starts with a blank piece of paper…or a blank screen…or just an idea in your mind. Instead of actually planning for a web site, instead, most people bypass the entire planning step. Or, they’ll just turn the whole project over to a designer.

If you are thinking about launching your first website, or are revamping one that’s already existing, don’t skip the planning process. Here are five steps to apply to help you plan your website:

1. Plan a website by writing down on a piece of paper all of the things your audience (visitors to your web site) might want to know about related to your topic. If your website is for a school, for example, visitors might want to know how many people attend, classroom sizes, nearby restaurants, hours of operation, anyone famous that came out of the school. Write down every possible topic someone might want to know about related to the industry you’re presenting.

2. Plan a website by putting yourself in your audience’s shoes. Visit some websites as if you are wanting the services those sites have to offer. Are you driven to take action? What are the turn-on’s and turn-off’s?

3. Plan a website by finding what people are searching for. Use this tool: http://www.herenextyear.com/overture-keyword-search.php. Type in a general phrase like “high school” and see what comes up. These are topics that people are searching for already. Plan your website to feature content that answers peoples’ questions.

4. Plan your web site to grow. Avoid websites that cannot be expanded. Your website will always be in-process. Plan that you will always be able to add pages or products.

5. Plan your website to allow you to be in control. There are few worse feelings in business than to be confined to the power of your designer to make even small changes to your website. Plan to be in control of the process and be involved.

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