Websites can be big or small but they all need to have some planning. Before you meet with a website designer or builder think about the following:
What is your message?
This is the basis for all marketing, and if you have a marketing strategy, you’ll already know the answer to this. Is it that you sell the cheapest widgets? Is it that your business prides itself on its unparalled customer service? Is it that you have the largest selection of whatsits in Australia and you have a no-questions-asked return policy? Take a moment and think: if you had thirty seconds to talk about your business, what you would say?
What do you need your website to do?
Will your website provide information on your product or service? Would you like to sell your product or service online? Will your website collect money? Donations? Will it have a help section? Media gallery? Write a blog? Make a list.
How will you measure success?
A website is a great marketing tool, but how do you know if it’s working? What action do you want your user to complete for you to consider their visit a success? Sign up for your newsletter? Fill out a form and hit submit? Make a purchase? Call?
Consider your budget.
What you want to spend may not be in line with what features you want. When you do meet with a web designer, talk candidly about your needs and your budget. Your web designer may be able to make suggestions that bridge the gap between need and cost.
Sketch out a sitemap.
A sitemap is the blueprint of your website. This exercise also helps you wrap your mind around the entire endeavour. Remember that in your main navigation, you may not want more than 7-8 links. Any more than this could overwhelm your users. Subpages are a great way to lump together complimentary pages and keep your site neat and tidy.
Scope out your competition.
See what your competition is up to. See what similar businesses in different markets are doing. Bookmark sites that have features you like but also bookmark sites with design elements or features you don’t like. Your preferences will be very meaningful to your designer.
By having a good idea of what your needs are before meeting with a website designer your meeting will be more meaningful. The more planning you do in advance means a more organized project. A more organized project can mean less cost. Have a clear idea of what you want, but keep an open mind; your web designer may have some ideas to make your vision even better.