And why website planning is important.
Whether you’re doing it yourself or outsourcing, building your website is an exciting step. It can also be stressful and loads of work. You don’t want to end up with a website that’s cost you time and money and isn’t even able to be found. But this can easily be avoided with website planning. Here’s six things (surprise – you thought it was only five!) you must do before you even think about how your new website will look.
1. Set a realistic budget
You know the saying “how long is a piece of string”? Websites are a bit like that. Opinions on how much to spend vary widely. It all depends on
- what you want your website to do
- how much of your time you’re willing to invest in it
- how important your website is to your business
Over on LinkedIn, I asked how much people would expect to pay for a 5 page website, including copy. Here’s what they voted:
- 62% said less than $5k
- 38% said between $5K and $7k
If you’re signing up to have a website built for under $5K, and it includes someone writing your copy, I give it 12 months before you outgrow it. Here’s why:
- it won’t do what you want it to do
- your customers won’t easily find you online
- the copy is clunky and not reflective of your brand or your business
Here’s another saying – “you get what you pay for”. And that is certainly true of websites. But also be wary of those setting your budget way high. Custom coded websites are not needed by most businesses. WordPress themes will do most, if not all of what you need them to do.
A realistic budget for building a website, in my experience, is $6k to $8k. I’m talking WordPress platform, no custom coding, 7 pages, not an ecommerce site, including copy written by a reasonably experienced copywriter.
2. Be clear on how best to serve your customers
What would your customers expect to read and do on your website?
- Understand your services?
- Get to know you?
- Make a booking?
- Read about or watch others who have used your services or products?
- Make a transaction?
- Get in touch?
There’ll be a few things that your customers will want to be able to do, depending on where they are in the buying journey. So start with making a list. Think about what different calls-to-action will be needed.
You’ll need more than one.
What value can you give them? How can you be most helpful? Content on your web page, including a blog, allows you to offer more advice and insight for your customers. Think about what you’d like to see if it was a service or product that you were searching for.
What would be a stand-out website for you?
Choose fonts and colours that are easy on the eye. Don’t make your visitors work hard.
Because they won’t.
They’ll bounce away from your site, onto someone else’s.
3. Know what topics you want to cover
Be sure to include standard navigation pages such as About, Services, Contact. And if it’s an ecommerce site, then your navigation should include the main categories of what you sell. This makes it super easy for people to understand what they can expect to see in your shop.
It’s not the place to be cute or clever.
Purpose and usability come first.
Lay out the topics or ideas you want to include. This will give you an outline of what pages you might need. Each webpage should be a topic or idea on it’s own. It’s easier for people and Google to know what each page is all about that way. It gives you the opportunity to keep extending and improving the quality of the content for each page, without overlap.
Topics should match your buyers’ needs and what they’re already searching for online. Take the time to research for key search terms, giving you clues for important topics or categories of ideas. You can ask your network what they would search for.
Tools such as Uber Suggest, Keywords Everywhere, Answer the public will great resources for keyword research.
It’s easy to get bogged down in data, so don’t spend too much time there.
4. Decide which platform works best for you
Researching for the best platform on which to build your website is a great investment in time.
Migrating a website down the track is a big deal.
It’s so easy to skip this step because you’re overwhelmed, but then realise that the one you built on doesn’t do what you want.
I’m a WordPress fan. It’s best to say that upfront. I knew zip about platforms and building websites. But then I built my first – on WordPress – and it was great. WordPress gives you loads of flexibility to grow. You’re not locked into what the platform decides is available to you.
Consider doing an online short course to walk you through building your own – and save yourself thousands. Or find a wed designer / developer you feel comfortable with that can build it for you.
But you do need to invest time in learning how to use and maintain it.
Templated websites such as Wix, Squarespace, Shopify and lots more will all build you lovely websites, but you’re locked into monthly payments (if you go premium – which at some point you hopefully will need to if your business is growing). Updates and security are all done for you. And if you’re an ecommerce store, then Shopify makes it very easy for you to get your shop up and running.
It just all depends on what you need for your business to run best.
5. Make sure it’s https
You’ll notice websites start with either http or https. The ‘s’ stands for secure. If a website is https, it means it has been overlayed with a thing called an ‘SSL’ certificate. And this is a good thing because
a) it makes your site more secure for people to use and
b) Google likes you more for it.
Some hosts will give you your SSL certificate for free. Some will charge a fee.
If you’re not sure, ask a web developer who knows SEO.
6. Choose your domain name wisely
Here’s a few tips on choosing your domain name:
- It doesn’t have to match a key search term. It was a good idea many moons ago. But things have moved on since then.
- It needs to be easily spelt (and without hyphens)
- It needs to give your business room to grow
- Ideally, it should say what you do – or what benefit you bring
- Don’t be cryptic. If you have to explain it – it’s no good
- If it closely matches someone else’s – don’t use it
- Make sure you own the ‘dot com’ as well as the ‘dot com dot au’
- It needs to be available across all social media platforms (use Namechk.com for this)
Skip the headache and plan first
The more time you spend planning, the easier the process of building will be. You’ll save yourself headaches later, simply by having built a website that is set up for being easily found and navigated by your customers.
Over to you
What’s important for your website? What do you wished you’d done before you built yours?
Amy Annetts, a marketing specialist in Melbourne, has been practising marketing for 25 years. She creates marketing strategies that give small businesses an advantage over their competition. Amy blends her corporate and traditional marketing experience with the latest digital techniques. Using a full-scale marketing toolkit, Amy’s clients have access to effective campaigns that earn them more customers. And she loves a challenge, evidenced by her mad interest in outdoor obstacle courses, where she’s happy to climb walls, crawl under barbed wire and be covered in mud.
But that’s another story.
Get in touch to see how Amy can help you.