The launch of a new website is an exciting moment in the life cycle of most businesses, and the myriad of considerations involved with planning one may seem overwhelming to start with. The good news is that in this day and age, creating a website doesn’t have to be a complicated process.
Website planning plays a crucial role in laying the foundations for the future success of your website. By considering the many aspects of web development during the early stages, your business will be able to more easily achieve its business objectives in the long run. Here are our 8 steps towards creating your new website.
Setting Out Your Website’s Objectives
Just like any other business investment, websites are there to serve a purpose. From customer support to online marketing, e-commerce websites often fulfill a number of purposes at once. Although their main goal will be to maximise the sale of specific products or services online, that goal is likely to have several different dimensions.
Setting out your website’s objectives is key to planning your website. The easiest way to do this is to identify your main goal first. For example, if your intention is to boost your online sales, you will need to consider which pages you might need to ensure your website meets that core objective. From there, you can start to plan your website structure more easily further down the road.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) refers to the process of optimising a website in a way that enables it to be found in search engines for certain search queries. Given that many of our online journeys begin with a Google search, taking account of SEO early on in the website planning process can make it easier for you to maintain a more SEO-friendly website in the long run.
Search engines analyse or “crawl” websites in a certain way, and one of the main goals is to make it as easy as possible for search engines to interpret your website. Familiarising yourself with basic concepts such as indexability, link structures and keyword usage will help put your website in the best possible position to begin moving up the search engine results page (SERP).
Create a Sitemap
Sitemaps provide an overview and visual representation of each of the web pages on a given website. They make it easy for you to take a structured approach to building your website, and at the same time function as a way for search engines to better understand your website’s structure.
In most cases, sitemaps will present each of the pages on your website in a hierarchical way, placing your main pages at the top and their accompanying pages further down. Creating a sitemap will help guide you throughout the planning process, functioning as a useful and straightforward reference from which to build upon your website.
Considering Website Design
The way in which your website is visually presented can have a significant influence on its success. This is partly because visual cues play an important role in shaping customers’ initial perception of your brand. Well-designed websites offer a number of benefits; from creating a wow-factor to encouraging interaction and from strengthening your brand image to improving usability, the right website design is likely to increase the chances of customers making a purchase.
When considering your website design, it’s important to remember that usability should often be the guiding principle no matter what you do. Complex visual features may well be visually appealing, but if they negatively impact a user’s experience, they are likely to be counterproductive. Many of the most successful websites strike a balance between the two, and you should strive to do the same.
Planning Your Content
A website is nothing without the right content, so creating a strong content plan is a crucial step in shaping the long-term success of your website. The content you choose to focus on will largely depend on the type of audience you’re attempting to reach. You may already have a clear idea on what kind of customers are attracted to your services, but creating buyer personas can help you to further identify the needs of your target market.
A content plan will set out the what, when and how of your website content. In order to target your audience effectively in the long-run, it’s likely you will have to familiarise yourself with basic concepts relating to SEO. For now, however, you could start by formulating the message you would like your web pages to communicate and design your content around delivering that message.
Eye up the Competition
Unless your business is operating in a considerably niche market, the chances are your website will be faced with tough competition from rival businesses. Taking account of your rivals’ online strengths and weaknesses can go a long way in informing your website planning, as their digital presence will help you to assess what’s currently on offer in your specific sector.
Eyeing up the competition will also help you identify areas in which your new website will be able to stand out from the rest. You may be able to offer a service that isn’t currently on offer elsewhere, or you may separate yourself from the pack as a family business. Whatever your unique selling points may be, your website is the ideal opportunity to shine a light on the unique nature of your business.
Consider Using a CMS
Content management systems (CMS) are one of the easiest ways to manage your content online. A significant strength of these systems is that they enable website creators to manage their web content in a non-technical and straightforward way. Well-known examples include the likes of WordPress and Drupal, and a large portion of websites is powered by these same platforms.
Using a CMS is a great way to build a professional-looking website with little to no experience. For this reason, taking the time to familiarise yourself with the platforms on offer can go a long way in creating a website that is right for you.
Test, Test and Test Again
Once you arrive at the point where your website is ready to be launched, you may be tempted to go ahead and share your website with the world. Before you do so, however, it’s important to run a number of tests in order to ensure your website is as ready as can be.
Website testing can take on many different forms. Testing your webforms, checking for 404 error pages and meta information, proofing your content, checking browser compatibility, running a speed test and optimising for mobile are all prime examples of this. By testing your website’s performance in each of these areas in advance, you can rest assured that you’re offering the world the best possible version of your website.
If you would like to learn more about the services offered by Champions Digital, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team via [email protected]. Alternatively, speak to a member of our team directly on 0845 331 30 31.