The Ultimate Website Planning Guide Part 4
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Welcome to part 4 of the ultimate website planning guide and this week we are looking at research and concept development. This weeks podcast will be quite short because you will be doing most of the work yourself. We are going to be covering the following topics:
- Looking at other websites for inspiration.
- Looking at competitors websites for guidance.
- Website features and must have items.
- Creating a budget for your project.
- Developing a website brief.
This will be about developing the brief for your website project so that you can be ready to start developing your project.
Looking at other websites for inspiration.
Let’s face it in this modern world we all spend time looking around online to some extent. Often you will be looking around online and something will catch your eye on a website. That could be something as simple as the way a form looks, how a video was used or a the way a particular colour catches your eye.
There are many places you can go for inspiration online and so to get you started here are a couple of search terms to enter into Google.
- Award Winning Website Designs
- Website Design Inspiration
- Colour Inspiration
- Website Design Trends
- Website Content Trends
I find it easier when looking for inspiration to create a bit of a table on sheet of paper and divide it into 3 columns. The first column is the website you found the inspiration on, the second column is the page you found the inspiration on, and the third column describe how you feel this could work on your website. Once you have completed doing some inspiration research it is time to look at your competitors.
Looking at competitors websites for guidance.
When it comes to whats going on in your industry then you need to look at your competitors. Your competitors are the pulse of your industry and as such what they are doing online may be something you need to look at. If for example all of your competitors have a website selling products online using e-commerce, potentially you need to do the same only better. I would suggest you once again go online and look at your competitors websites.
Choose your top 5 competitors and make a list of the common items found across each of their websites. Have a look at what is working for them and what you feel is not working for them. Then on a sheet of paper or in a spreadsheet set up 3 columns again. Once again the column headings are website address, page name and finally description. Make sure to record any stand out features you feel could make your website better.
When it comes to improving your website offering over that of your competitors don’t forget to check out your inspiration list. Then apply that inspiration to the items you want to incorporate from your competitors websites. Let’s take a look at the next part of your brief and that is the features and must have items.
Website features and must have items.
We have looked around for inspiration and assessed our competitors websites to identify the best and worst of their online offerings. Now it is time for us to look at the website features you would like to have on your website and the must have items you can not live without on the website.
When it comes to features for your website these days you are completely spoilt for options. With features ranging from blogs and video content through to e-learning, online shopping and much more. I have outlined a few of the most common website features below along with some of the more advanced ones. Take a look at the list and Google any that you don’t understand the meaning of. When looking through the list make a note of the items you feel could work on your website.
Some items to consider:
- Contact details
- Main menu
- Banner image
- Call to action
- Products and services information
- Quote form
- Testimonials & social proof
- Maps or directions
- Trading hours
- Captcha or anti spam
- Blog page
- FAQ page
- Mobile responsive
- Shopping cart
- Social network sharing
- Social network connection
- E-learning system
Other things to think about include:
- Fast hosting
- Browser compatibility
- Google analytics reporting
- SEO optimisation
- Speed optimisation
- Site backup
- Website security & firewall
What actually goes on your website is ultimately your decision. In many cases your website designer or developer may provide guidance and advice. Sometimes this advice may be to leave something out or add something in however the decision is yours. Just remember that you did go to a designer or developer for a reason and often they will have a valid reason for whatever suggestions they make to you.
Make a new table on a sheet of paper or in a spreadsheet and set up three columns. The first column will be for the feature name, the second column will be for a description of how you envision it working in the context of your website, and the third column is where you note whether this is a wanted or must have feature. Once you have completed this worksheet then it is time to look at creating a budget for your website project.
Creating a budget for your website project.
In this section it is time to research and get a budget together. You will need to reach out and get prices for a range of things. Ultimately you will need to work out pricing and or a budget amount for each of the following items:
- Website Domain Name/s
- Website Hosting Service
- Website Security Certificate (SSL)
- Website Design / Development
- Search Engine Marketing (Optional)
- General Marketing (Optional)
- Email Marketing Platform (Optional)
When it comes to creating a budget ask questions and get multiple prices. I do recommend going with the best you can afford in all cases as each variable obviously plays a role in the final product you have. It is ok to DIY your own website but remember that when you hire a local website designer or developer your also purchasing their experience and knowledge on your project. That knowledge and experience could be the difference between a great business and a highly successful business.
Developing a website brief.
Finally it is time to develop your first draft of your website brief. This means taking all of the information you have learnt in this part of the guide and the previous parts of the guide. Normally this is a long winded process and you need to create the brief and collect the data and this can take weeks. However because you’re a regular reader of our articles or listener to our podcast we have created a template for you to download for free.
Now that you have downloaded your free template simply go through and complete all of the available fields with your content and research. Once you have completed the template I would suggest taking a break for a day or so and then coming back and reviewing what you have written and checking that it is still accurate.
That wraps it up for this part of the guide and coming up next we will be looking at developing a website marketing strategy, assembling your website content and launching your website the right way. I do hope that this article and indeed the series has been working out for you and that it is helping you get yourself started and planning effectively.
Martin is a website designer with more than 20 years industry experience. Specialising in WordPress website design, WordPress website care, WordPress website hosting and much more.
When not building websites for clients Martin enjoys, playing online games, taking and editing video and photo as well as spending time with his family.