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Whether you’re starting from scratch with your very first website, or refreshing an existing one, don’t underestimate the importance of the planning stage. Unless you think about what you want your website to achieve before you design it, the chances are you won’t end up with the best site for your purposes – so no matter how quickly you want it done, make time for the planning stage.

Who are you trying to talk to?

This is the first and most important question to ask – in other words, who is your target audience? You need to look at your existing customer base and the people you want to attract. How and why are they going to be using your website? What are they looking for? How can you fulfil this? How will they find their way to your website? These two groups may have different focuses of attention on your site – so how are you going to handle that? Use the following resources to help you find out what your target audience are looking for:

What do you want from your website?

Do you want your website to be primarily a selling platform or will you be using it to build a community? Is education your goal, thereby positioning yourself as an expert, or do you want to include an element of entertainment? For most businesses, the primary aim of their website is to draw in new customers and to facilitate the buying process. Your answers to the questions in the section above should inform you what form your website needs to take and how your visitors are going to use it.

Time for a blueprint

This is when you get down to the nuts and bolts of how many pages you need, what content they should include and how your customers will be led through your website. Combine these into a detailed sitemap which will act as the blueprint for your web development. Check out this great article from Creately on planning your website: https://creately.com/blog/

Time and money

Once you have a detailed plan for your site, you’ll be able to estimate the hours required and the cost of its development. This is the point to put together your team and fine tune your budget. Remember to allow for planning, content writing, design, development, SEO and project management.

Allocate and schedule the work

Work out and then make it clear who is taking responsibility for each and every element of the project. You’ll need one person in charge overall, but the different elements require different skills and expertise. You’ll also need to decide who needs to see the project at what stage and what the approval process will look like. The project manager can then draw up a schedule so everyone involved knows what’s expected of them and when they need to deliver it by. Tools such as Asana and Trello are great for keeping everyone on task.

Now your plan’s in place, you’re ready to kick off and start real work!

Need help and advice on any element of your website? Inside Creative can provide you with the skills you need to create the best possible website for your business. Talk to us or drop us a line via the contact form on the website.

Photo by Alvaro Reyes on Unsplash

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