Whether you’re on a shoestring budget doing the best you can with your website or have an corporate-level budget for a website, a solid website opens the door to a great deal of opportunity.
On this article we will give an overview on what you should consider when designing a website.
I have organized the web design planning into 7 steps which I will discuss one by one as you see below.
Web Design Planning
- Goal Identification
- Budget Properly
- Sitemap / Wireframe
- Basics of SEO
- Content Creation / Visuals
- Flexibility in Design / Testing
- Pre-Launch / Launch
We should always start a website or any project with the end goal in mind.
Consider the target audience of the website:
- How are you solving their need?
- How are you solving your internal team’s need?
The site can only generate traffic, leads, and sales when we make sure we have what our target audience wants.
Defining goals for both your organization and your user should be easy to do. Will it be use for training new staff members? Will it be used to build credibility among customers or will you have transactions from the website?
If the goals don’t align, then you’ll likely have a problem where you’ll seek to make profits yet not be able to deliver the product and experience your audience seeks.
Next part of identifying the Goals for your website is to determine the percentage of your business?
Will the website be a tool to present when talking to prospects to build credibility or will it be a large portion of your business?
A Local Car Wash
Website mainly for address and build some brand awareness
Only accounts for 20% of business
A Plumber –
wants website to be mainly informational, build credibility and generate leads
Website will be 50% of its business.
Streaming video service or online clothing store
Website will need to build credibility, show promotions, be transactional
Website anywhere from 80-100% of business
Prepare to invest in your web presence.
I have known a lot of brands that overspend on their sites and then go cheap on marketing.
Conversely, there are those who want to go big on marketing and won’t put anything into their website.
Base the budget on the goals for your website. Rule of thumb to have 10-20% of your revenue or forecast revenue to marketing. If your website is only 20% of your business, then only use 20% of your marketing budget for it.
Find the right CMS, technology, and type of site for you:
Off the shelf? Know what the limitations are so you don’t have to throw it away and start over before having any ROI on it.
Custom design and/or custom code?
Make sure it isn’t overkill and doesn’t push your breakeven point too far out into the future.
Know what your upfront investment is and what the incremental one is as well to make the right decisions to support your business.
Understand your maintenance cost.
- Is there a monthly fee?
- Do you get free upgrades or you need to pay for upgrades?
- How often do you foresee making changes to website?
Sitemap – Wireframe
The sitemap provides the foundation for any well-designed website. It helps give web designers a clear idea of the website’s information architecture and explains the relationships between the various pages and content elements.
Building a site without a sitemap is like building a house without a blueprint. The next step is to find some design inspiration and build a mockup of the wireframe. Wireframes provide a framework for storing the site’s visual design and content elements, and can help identify potential challenges and gaps with the sitemap.
Although a wireframe doesn’t contain any final design elements, it does act as a guide for how the site will ultimately look. It can also act as inspiration for the formatting of various elements.
Know how the search engines crawl and index your content and ensure the basic on-page factors are optimized. There are lots of ways to make this easy, including through plugins and semantic coding.
SEO has technical aspects and goes beyond on-page, but if you can at least ensure your content can be indexed (and is being indexed) and that you are customizing all of the on-page elements to literally represent what your content is and is about, then you can win half the battle.
Getting your keywords and key-phrases right is essential for the success of any website. To research keywords use Google Keyword Planner, SEM Rush or Uber Suggests. These tools will show the search volume for potential target keywords and phrases, so you can hone in on what actual human beings are searching on the web.
Create a list of 20-50 keywords, on your sitemap put a focus keyword to each page and below it a list of supporting keywords.
Once you have your Sitemap / Wireframe and your SEO research you can start with the most important part of the site: the content
In content creation focus on three things
1. Drives engagement and action
First, content engages readers and drives them to take the actions necessary to fulfill a site’s goals.
This is affected by both the content itself (the writing), and how it’s presented (the typography and structural elements).
Dull, lifeless, and overlong prose rarely keeps visitors’ attention for long.
Short, snappy, and intriguing content grabs them and gets them to click through to other pages.
Even if your pages need a lot of content — and often, they do — properly “chunking” that content by breaking it up into short paragraphs supplemented by visuals can help it keep a light, engaging feel.
Content also boosts a site’s visibility for search engines.
The design process should focus on designing around SEO. Keywords you want to rank for need to be placed in the title tag — the closer to the beginning, the better. Keywords should also appear in the H1, H2 tags, meta description, and body content.
Content that’s well-written, informative, and keyword-rich is more easily picked up by search engines, all of which helps to make the site easier to find.
3. Visual Elements
This part of the design process will often be shaped by existing branding elements such as colors, and logos.
Images are taking on a more significant role in web design now than ever before.
High-quality images give a website a professional look and feel,
The Images should help communicate a message, and build trust. Interesting visual content is known to increase clicks, engagement, and revenue. But more than that, people want to see images on a website. Not only do images make a page feel less cumbersome and easier to digest, but they also enhance the message in the text, and can even convey vital messages without people even needing to read.
I recommend using a professional photographer to get the images right. If that is not an option, you can try paid stock photography and free stock photos . Keep in mind stock imagery will not be unique and a competitor might have the same exact image which can blur your brand on a customers mind with a competitor.
Design Flexibility & Testing
Gone are the days where browsing a website could only be done on a desktop computer. Today, there are numerous devices that can be used to browse a website. Whether someone is searching on their laptop, smartphone, desktop, e-reader, gaming console, TV or any other device you want your website to be compatible.
Responsive web design helps expand reach and accessibility because it is intended to fit the highest number of devices possible.
No web page is one size fit all, and it takes careful execution to get it right.
Your web design should maintain the integrity of your website content but adapt to multiple size by rendering fittingly according to the specifics of different devices.
Mobile-First Indexing Advantages
Responsive design instantly makes your website mobile-friendly. As we know, Google’s Mobile-First Indexing has been gradually taking over the web in the past few years and is now becoming the standard. This means that only the content of the mobile version of the website will be crawled by Google and visible in organic search results.
Non Desktop users
Always keep in mind that depending on your audience profile (customer persona) they might have no need for a desktop and only view through their smartphones.
Once the site has all its visuals and content, you’re ready for testing. Thoroughly test each page to make sure all links are working and that the website loads properly on all devices and browsers. Errors may be the result of small coding mistakes. Main browsers to check: Google Chrome, Internet Explorer and Safari.
Pre-Launch & Launch
Now it’s time for everyone’s favorite part of the website development process: When everything has been thoroughly tested, and you’re happy with the site, it’s time to launch!
Don’t expect this to go perfectly. There may be still some elements that need fixing. Web design is a fluid and ongoing process that requires constant maintenance. The beauty of the web is that it’s never finished. Once the site goes live, you can continually run user testing, monitor analytics, and refine your messaging.
Before launching is a good idea to start prepping your audience to build hype and excitement to your brand. Here are some ideas to use:
- Add a coming soon page
One of the best ways to announce the launch of a new website is to create a coming soon page. A coming soon page helps you build excitement pre-launch and it gives visitors a preview of what your site is all about. Plus, you’ll have something to link to during pre-launch marketing and you can add an opt-in form to your coming soon page so you can start building your email list right away.”
- Write a blog post announcement
When launching a new website, make sure to write a blog post about it! Not only is great for SEO \but is also an opportunity to share your brand’s story and key improvements that come with the launch of the new site. Having a central location with all this information is great to refer back to when you share the news with clients/customers in emails as well as on social media.
- Mix up social ads and organic posts
The launch of a new website should be connected with a promotion on another platform such as social media networks with links driving people to the new site! I would highly suggest using a mix of both paid social ads and organic posts to ensure that you are connecting with your existing following but also expanding your reach to potential new customers in your target demographic. If you aren’t experienced with social media advertising, I highly recommend looking for freelancers or agencies to make sure you are getting the most of your marketing budget.”
- Send a direct message to everyone in your database
One very simple way to announce the launch of a business’ new website is to send a direct message to everyone in your database.
Let them know when your site goes live!
Why you changed your site (if is a redesign)?
– Was it to better serve your customers?
Highlight some new features on your site that your audience may be interested in.
You could even offer a gift to anyone who provides you feedback on your new site.
Congratulations! Your website is now complete. Treat yourself, go out to a nice dinner, a short trip is a good idea from time to time take some time off your business to come back with fresh set of eyes. Don’t let go off the gas yet the marketing and optimizing the website through analytics will be a crucial part for the success of your website.