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Website planning tips for clients

Choosing the right partner for your website can be challenging. Before making that decision, it's important to know what you want your website to achieve. To help, I've created a rough guide when planning your website.

Understanding your visitors

Knowing your target audience is key to running your business not only your website. Write some simple user personas for your key customer types, you can then refer back to these when planning future content. Try to answer specific questions and build up as much detail as possible.

How old are they? How much do they earn? What motivates them? What words do they use to describe your business? What search terms do they use to find you? Questions like this are crucial to how you build your content and plan for SEO.

If possible ask existing clients how they found you or what made them choose your business over others? This might feel uncomfortable to begin with but over time these insights can shape the services you offer and the channels you choose to invest time and money in.

Identify 3 main visitors goals

This builds on the previous step. You might only need a basic site for customers to find your contact details, that's fine. But even for a site as simple as this you can improve the customer experience.

The goals could be as simple as:

  1. Find our phone number.
  2. Find our address.
  3. Check the price of my services before they contact me.

Even these common uses can be refined to shape the design of the website. If you expect lots of visitors to want your phone number, make sure you include it in the header of every page so it is always available. Make it a clickable link that calls your number, saving them time copying it.

Remember your website should save time for both you and your customers. Do you have common questions customers ask when you provide a quote? Add them to your website within an FAQs section, making it clear for new customers and saving you answering it everytime.

Site structure

With your visitor goals in mind you can start to work our your site map and site structure. Think about the size of your website, is the content all on one level or do you need sub-pages grouped under a top level page? For example news posts or event lisitngs.

Most websites follow a similar structure with a homepage, about and contact pages. Depending on the amount of content you might be better getting all this content within one page saving users clicking around. For larger sites breaking content on to seperate pages makes it easier to navigate.

Once you have a rough sitemap you can create documents for each of the pages and build out the content sections. This could be as simple as a box saying 'contact form' inside. You should then be able to get deeper into each of the content sections until you have the structure mapped out.

Writing the content sections

Remember you don't want too many words. Most users will scan your pages, you are not writing an essay. Break your content into small sections and use clear descriptive headings. This way users scanning your content can easily find the sections they are looking for.

It's also worth thinking about images. A site without any images can be rather plain. Do you have any exisitng images? Do you have the rights to use them? Do you need to use stock images and if so you need to have budget to purches these?

Where possible I would avoid stock images as bespoke images almost always connect better with users, unless they are terrible quality. Stock photos are usually easy to spot and geographical differences can be a real giveaway.

Find sites you like

Search the internet for examples of other sites you really like. This could be competitors or completly unrelated businesses. Think about the sites you use regularly and what makes them good or bad. Collate a list of links you can share with a designer, this will really help them understand what you like.

Be flexible

Once you have a good idea of your customers and a content outline you can confidently sit down with your web designer or agency and go through your plan. This should get you off to a great start and they should be able to refine what you have provided. Make sure you are open to suggestions and take on board any comments.

Plan for growth

A website is like a garden; it's an ongoing project. Don't worry, you won't need to spend hours every day but regular attention pays off. Plan in a way to add content regularly. This boosts search engine rankings and helps potential customers find your site.

An unloved site can cause more damage than good. We’ve all been to sites where blog post or events haven’t been updated for years. This makes the lack of attention very obvious, you should strive to keep things fresh.

Be realistic about how you plan to manage your site in the future. Do you have the time to update and create content for your site or would you be better off paying someone else to manage this for you? How often do you plan to make updates?

Next steps

I have just touched on a few of the basics to get you thinking about website planning. I hope this helps seeing your site from a users perspective and gives you some pointers on planning the content.

Please get in contact to find out more about the services I offer and how I can help your business. I'm always happy to arrange a call or meeting to discuss an upcoming project.

Contact me to find out more