Planning with computer and notepad on desk
Once you’ve decided it’s time for a new website—either a website redesign or brand new website—there are a few things you can do ahead of time that will build a foundation for success. Before you even select a website designer there are some steps you can take that will get your project off to a better start. Putting in this time and effort will help ensure you end up with a website that meets your goals and will work for your organization for years to come.

Over the years we’ve helped organizations with websites at all stages of development. Some groups come to us with a blank page and others come to us with a well-defined project ready to hit the ground running. Here at TBH Creative, we can help with either of those projects—and everything in between. We have learned, however, that the smoothest projects are the ones where the client has done some planning ahead of time.

So what types of planning make the most impact?

Five key steps you can take to set your website project up for success.

Step 1: Gather corporate input.

Your president or business owner may not be directly involved in the website project, but in most cases they still have a strong sense of what they want and don’t want on a website. Schedule a meeting to talk to them about the project. Questions to ask:
  • What do you think is most important for the website to communicate?
  • How can the website support long term goals?
  • Where does the website fit in overall marketing strategy?

Step 2: Learn more about your audience.

Person using tablet
First and foremost, the website needs to appeal to your target audience. You’ll certainly want to review key market demographics so that your website team has the proper framework. You’ll also want to consider the level of comfort your customers and prospects have with the Internet. Are they using the Internet sparingly or are they online all day long? What do they do when they are on the Internet? Are they heavily using mobile devices? These are the types of soft data that can help determine the best functionality and design for your website.

Consider pulling together audience personas for each key market to help keep the project focused on the right issues and needs. Learn more about the value of the audience persona.

Step 3: Do a little competitive analysis.

Much like step two, this is a soft marketing research project. Look at your competitors’ websites. Ask some others in your company to do the same. Make notes of what is working well on those sites – partly as inspiration for your own new design but also as features that you might want to address to differentiate yourself.

Don’t stop there – look at any websites both inside and outside of your industry. Make notes of things that you’d like to see on your new site: design styles, content tone, graphic elements for example.

Step 4: Sketch out your site architecture.

Take some time to layout your current site map. You can do this visually or as a simple content outline. Now is the time to give it a critical eye. Is the site organized in a way that makes sense? Does it cover all of your current offerings? Are there pages that should be dropped or added?
Women on computer
Do you have analytic reports or traffic stats for your current site? Take some time to study them. Analytics can help you monitor site usage and make strategic shifts in content or structure when needed. See what pages are being used the most and make sure that aligns with where you want people to go and what you want them to do. A well-planned site architecture can help you direct users to your desired calls to action – ultimately helping you meet your goals.

Step 5: Assemble your website project team. 

Consider who needs to be a part of the website development project. While your website should always be evolving and growing, you don’t want to discover that it needs a complete shift in focus in the middle of the project. Make sure all stakeholders are represented in the planning process and determine who will be hands-on for the project itself. Learn more about assembling a strong website project team in our recent article: Involving the right people in your web design project.

You might also like

Subscribe to our marketing blog for free resources
Mobile worker photo by Michael Coghlan, shared via CC by 2.0