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May 9, 2024

How to Plan Your Website & Work With a Web Designer

Need a new website but not sure where to start?

I’m here to help! Planning a new website can seem like a bear of a task, but I’ll break it down into logical steps that will help you get the job done. This article will cover how to plan your business website and how to collaboratively work with your web designer. Let’s get right into it.

Step 1: Determine the information you wish to present

The first step in planning your website entails determining what you want to present to your audience, aka target market. This will differ greatly depending on your business type/industry and can be broken down into several generalized sections. Most websites require the following pages/information as a bare minimum:

The above pages/menu items will cover the basics for many small business owners. Then, depending on your industry or business type, you may need to add some or all of the following pages:

Meaning – people don’t want to weed through useless information and flowery words to get what they came for. The best advice I can give from a human’s standpoint is to create a website which, for the most part, contains important information relevant to your target clientele. 

“For the most part” you say? Well, we also have to think about the machines. The machines include search bots and AI. To appease the machine gods you must try to make all the content you write relevant to your industry, target audience, and target geographic locations. The same goes for site structure, meaning how the information is presented and linked.

If just scanning through the page types above doesn’t begin to give you an idea of what you’d like to include on your website, I recommend finding your top competitors and scanning through their websites. By “top competitors” I expressly mean the businesses you already know are your toughest competition, and specifically those that come up near the top in Google organic search results.

Step 2: Determine the content each of your selected pages will contain

Between reviewing your competitors and what you already know you’d like to present to customers, you should have a decent outline to start with. I won’t go over specialized pages as they will be industry specific, but here’s a quick overview of what basic website pages should contain:

Now that you have your outline, you also have your main menu items! Two birds, one stone. Poor birds.

Ahead of you is the task of determining the text, images, and video to place on each page.

Your text depends on what you want your audience to know about you or your business. Generally speaking you want to make sure that information is presented in a way that is uniformly in line with your brand messaging and overall sales/marketing strategy throughout the website. Writing should be customer focused and SEO conscious. Once again, if you run into difficulty summoning ideas – visit your top competitors.

The goal is never to copy, but to improve upon their visible strengths. You must ensure your writing is 100% original, and serves to inform your audience while ranking well with search engines.

Images and video are another important aspect of your site. Users will be influenced by visual media that conveys something about your business to them. The best way to start is to compile every great image and video you may wish to use. From there start assigning pertinent images/videos to the appropriate content on your site.

Like text, visual media should be used as needed to strengthen your brand image, convey a message, or express something words cannot. Like text, there is such a thing as overkill – so don’t unnecessarily overdo it. Images also have the power to draw users in to read information.

Step 3: How to work with a web designer

This is where I come into the picture. I will keep this part short & sweet. There are 3 basic levels of preparedness I’ve encountered with my clients. Your level of preparedness will determine a web designer’s role in the process. Every website is a collaboration between the business owner, and the web designer. At a minimum the business owner must approve the work.

Situation 1: You know what you’d like your website to contain and how you want it to look.

  • You already know each page you’d like your site to contain
  • You know the text, images, and videos that will be presented on each page
  • The desired look, feel, fonts and colors have already been selected
  • Your web designer’s job is to:
    • Turn your vision into reality and add valuable input along the way

Situation 2: You have an idea about what you’d like your site to contain, but it is incomplete and requires input.

  • You know some of the pages you’ll need as well as some of the content each page will contain
  • You have an idea about the look, layout, colors, and fonts you like – but you’d like to see a few live samples
  • You know who your main competitors are for organic search results, but you have not thoroughly reviewed their sites
  • Your web designer’s job is to:
    • Compile all the information you know you want to present, then tell you what is missing
    • Review you’re competitor’s sites and make any suggestions that are pertinent
    • Generate additional written content or ask you, the business owner, to do it
    • Suggest website styles, colors, layouts that will present your material in an aesthetic and functional manner

Situation 3: You know you need a website, but have no idea what you’d like your site to contain or how you want it to look.

  • You know your job/business/industry well – but you do not have time or have not thought of what your website will contain
  • You need an online presence, and have no idea where to begin – other than to contact a web designer
  • Your web designer’s job is to:
    • Understand your business – to include a summary of how you do business and everything you offer clients
    • Understand your branding/marketing/strategic efforts
    • Ask you about the specifics of each of your offerings in order to fully understand your strengths and how to market them
    • Know who your top competitors are in your local area and industry & become familiar with your competitor’s websites & web presence
    • Understand your unique offerings and strengths relative to your direct competitors
    • Create a proposal for you which includes a site outline – all pages and content within those pages
    • Determine a layout/look and feel for the site that is in line with your taste and the image you wish to project
    • Generate all logos and visual media needed to populate your new website

Conclusion

Situation 2 is the one I’ve personally encountered most. When determining the content that should go into a website it always helps to have input from a web designer. A good designer will view your business goals from the perspective of a objective consultant and provide you with targeted, well reasoned input.

Hopefully all this information helps you plan your new website efficiently, and if you have any questions or need help planning your website – please feel free to reach out to me.

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