Pre-planning your website
What is your website’s purpose?The first thing to consider before starting a website is the purpose. The purpose of a website will vary considerably from site to site, in the same way that overall business purpose varies from business to business. This will define many aspects of your website, from the specific features, design to how you should focus your content. Failing to establish the purpose of your website, can cause confusion in the users and as a result lose leads, traffic and brand awareness
You should ask yourself these questions:
- What do you want your website to do?
- What defines your business and how do you want to represent it on the website?
- What kind or website will it be: an online store, corporate, blog or a portfolio?
Who is your audience?Identifying the primary users of your website is another integral step in the pre-development process. Your website needs to target both your macro (i.e. teenagers or adults? Men or women?) and micro audiences (i.e. designers, housewives, other companies, etc.). One of the biggest mistakes that website owners make is taking the audience for granted. Website owners usually make the assumption that if your idea appeals to you personally, it will appeal to your customers. Most of the time this isn’t the case. Always remember to research your demographic audience in order to know what will appeal to their needs and desires. Who are they? What defines them? How do you interact with them? How do they want to interact with you?
This is a small guide of questions that will help you to identify your target audience:
- Who: Who is the site for? Existing customers, potential customers, or both? Who do you want to visit your site? Members of the press? Members of your community?
- What: What are they looking for when they come to your site? What is their technological skill level and what do they do online? What are their budgets and spending habits? What age are they? What colors, styles, fonts, and phrasing will appeal to them?
- When: When would a potential visitor seek out your site? Would they come to your site before becoming a client or is it a group filled with existing customers looking for support?
- Where: Where are your visitors going to be located? Are they in your geographic region? Are they all across the United States or from all over the world?
- Why: Why are these people coming to your site? Why should they come to your site instead of your competitor’s website?
Having this information will help you greatly, because knowing your audience will have a huge impact on your website’s traffic, and at the same time will grant you brand awareness.
Content is the kingIt’s imperative to know what kind of content will be used on the website. Will this include video, audio, images or other type of content? Will it need a blog, product reviews, a premium content area or a specific feature? There are many content considerations that need to be determined prior to creating the design framework of the website. Unfortunately, many clients are often at a loss when it comes to content creation. Most know what pages they want, but not what will actually go on these pages. If this is the case, the client and the website designer should work together to decide a content plan that is in the best for the website. You always can hire a company that offers content creation as a service, this way you can guarantee a professional result.
Establish your goalsAfter gathering this information, you should stablish your goals. Ask yourself: What is your ultimate goals? And How are you going to achieve those goals? Once you stablish the main goals of your site, you can effectively organize and prioritize the tasks and content After setting your main goal, you should break it into smaller goals that will act as milestones along the path to your main goal. As you track your successes and failures with this smaller goals you will know where you need to make adjustments and corrections to make sure you achieve your main goal. If you fail to track your progress, you might as well fail your main goal.
Clearly defined goals help you to understand how effective your site actually is. Once defined, you can measure whether your site has met, surpassed or underachieved on its goals.
At NILEAD we believe that spending time with our customers to understand their businesses before even starting a single draw or line of code is essential to build a successful website. This way we get to know more about businesses and what they need and avoid making assumptions, which may or may not be correct. A few hours spend in the beginning of the process will save 20 hours of development time, preventing missing deadlines, cost overruns and client dissatisfaction.