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4 Questions to Answer when Planning Your Website

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4 Questions to Answer when Planning Your Website

Many business owners believe the website development process is straightforward. Just put some images and text together, and watch the traffic roll in. This is surprising given the fact that successful, popular websites are so complex, with so much technology and functionality at work. Websites that work for their companies are the product of careful planning, which, to be fair, can seem like a lot of work before the “actual” work even starts! In order to get you started, here are four key questions that have a big influence on a web project.

  1. What is the goal of your website?

For most, this seems like an easy obvious answer: “to make my business more money!” While it’s certainly a valid reason to have a website, it’s an oversimplification. If that is your primary answer, then you should have a follow-up question: How do you want your website to make more money? 

You may be using your site to sell your products online. Or your site may be a supplement to your physical business, with an online catalogue or document repository. It could be a showcase of your services, with examples and testimonials. Or it may be a lead generating tool, with lots of opportunity to connect with users. These are only a few examples of website project goals, and each example can lead to a very different looking result.

  1. What is your intended audience?

While the majority of websites are intended for current and potential customers, this isn’t always the case. Intranets/Extranets can be for employees only. Non profit organizations could be soliciting investors, sponsors, and volunteers. B2B sites may gear their presence toward their sales force or resellers. Clearly defining your target audience is critical for a positive user experience, as it helps you decide what content is to be placed front and centre, as well as the tone you may want to convey.

  1. What message do you want to convey through your website?

Just like the personnel within your organization, your website needs to represent your business in a positive and faithful manner. When building your website’s content, it’s important to establish what information you want to present to site visitors, and how you want to present it.

You may want to project a formal, professional tone through the website, in which case you may use more technical terms and industry standard phrasing. If you wish to appear more informal and down-to-earth, you may prefer using plain language, common idioms and figures of speech, and possibly a little humour.

  1. What path do you want users to take through the website?

Say that the average user views four different pages when they visit your site. What four pages would you like those to be? What is the most critical information to get to them, and what do you want to be sure that users do before they leave?

You may be surprised at how much influence you can have over a visitor’s path through your site. With a clear plan about how this path looks, you can carefully craft your content, layout, navigation, and call-to-action elements to expertly guide site visitors to a conclusion that suits your overall site goals.

You may be eager to get online (or if you’re already online, to get a new look up and running), and be inclined to rush through the website development process. In doing so, unfortunately you do the medium a disservice. With so many ways to enrich and enhance your business, your best bet for a successful presence is with a well thought out website plan. Using these four questions to start, you can get planning quickly and effectively. If you need help developing your website plan, or bringing your vision to reality, don’t hesitate to contact us to get your project moving in the right direction.