How To Plan A Website
In this article, I will teach you step by step how to plan a website. One of the hardest things about creating a website is getting started. These steps will help you establish a direction and basic framework for your website.
The first step to planning a website is to establish the goal. Most websites are created with the goal of either selling a product, service, conveying information, or a combination of those things. By establishing the goal of your website you'll be able to make good decisions about the structure of your website.
For example, if your goal is to sell a catalog of products you will want to leverage the store app because creating a database of products with descriptions and prices if more efficient than creating a page for each product you're selling. Likewise, if you're looking to create a news website with hundreds of articles you're best served to use the blog app to create a database of articles instead of creating hundreds of uniquely designed pages.
For the most part, if you're running a small business, service business, club, team, or organization you're best served by creating a five to ten-page website packed full of the relevant information the people visiting your website are seeking. In those cases, there's no need to integrate a store app or blog but simply create the pages you need to convey the most important information and get found online.
The second step to planning your website is to determine the pages you want to create. If you have an online store or you're creating a website with hundreds of articles you're still going to need a few supporting pages. Some of the most common pages every website should have are the following.
Home - This is obvious. Your home page is going to be the page people see when they type your web address into their web browser.
Landing Page - A landing page is somewhere you send people to from an advertisement or another promotion. For the most part, the home page will be your landing page but sometimes you'll need a page or pages that have content that's focused on a particular objective. For example, if you're advertising widgets on Google you may want to take someone to a page that focuses on that particular product as opposed to taking them to your home page and requiring them to figure out where to find more information about that product on your website.
About - This is a page usually used to help your audience get to know you. It's common to share things on this page like photos of your team members, short biographies, stories of how your business got started, things of that nature. In general, they help your site visitors know you're for real and establish credibility.
Contact - Every website really should have a contact page. Many times the person coming to your website will just be looking to talk to someone through phone or email to try and get their questions answered. Of course, that's not a working solution for all websites but even websites that are trying to avoid the public will probably want a contact page so people can report problems with the website and things of that nature. A contact form is a great thing to have on your contact page because it spares you the trouble of people spamming an email address placed publicly on your website.
Products - If you use the store app you probably won't want a separate page that describes your products but there are many cases when you want to show off things you've made or built. A product page is a good place to do that.
Services - If you're in the service business a services page is a good place to describe the different services you offer, how much they cost, and how to schedule them.
Photos - Regardless of what type of website you're creating a photos page is helpful. It's a good place just to visually connect with your audience. If you're running a team or club you'll probably want to post photos of events and outings. If you're a maker it's a good place to have a gallery of photos that show off your work.
Calendars - Websites are a great place to post a public calendar where people can see event times and locations.
Of course, there's really no end to the types of pages you can create for your website. These are just a few of the most common to help you get started.
The third step to planning a website is determining the layout of your pages. One of the keys to quickly and efficiently creating a good web design is using a consistent page layout. In WebStarts we help you do this by splitting the page into three sections. The very top called the header, the very bottom called the footer, and all the space in between called the body. Elements placed in the header and footer appear on any page you create where the header and footer are enabled.
To make each web page look consistent things like your logo, company name, and the menu should go in the header. That way when people navigate from page to page on your website they won't feel lost.
Studies show the average person will skim your page for three or four seconds to make sure they came to the right place before clicking the back button. For that reason, you should include a headline somewhere near the top of the page body that concisely states what your website is all about.
Because most people are simply skimming your pages instead of thoroughly reading the contents. The headline should be followed by some bullet points or short blurbs that explain the virtues of your product, service, or the information they can obtain from your website. Many times you'll see some icons or images that represent the type of information or paragraphs of text explaining the features and benefits of a product or service.
Another thing to keep in mind, if you display photos, those photos should reflect what your website is about. If you place irrelevant photos on your website there's a good chance you'll confuse a visitor and they'll click the back button simply assuming they've come to the wrong place. Always try to remember, people, skim and don't read.
After someone skims your headline and bulleted points they're going to wonder what to do next. Make this question easy for them to answer with a call to action. A call to action might be a phone call, it might be a link you want them to click on, it might be a button or a form where you'd like them to enter their email address. Whatever you want them to do next, spell it out for them.
With all your pages created and sensibly laid out you should have a pretty good looking website, easy to navigate website. The last step is to add a domain name to it. A domain name is the web address where people can find your online (Example: YourOwn.com). If at all possible find a domain name that meets these criteria.
- As short as possible
- Easy to spell
- Easy to phonetically sound out
- Your company name or reflective of the type of content on your website
- Preferably a .com
The chances of you meeting all of that criteria are not great because so many domain names have already been claimed. So you might have to get a little creative. Here are a few tips for finding a domain if that perfect one is just not available.
- Add a word to the front or back of your company name. Think "OfficialCompanyName.com" or "CompanyName.com"
- Choose from a more obscure top level domain extension. There are so many new extensions available. Like .website, .secure, .cloud, .fun just to name a few.
- Think of synonyms. If you're a woodworker and you can't find a good domain with the words woodworker in it maybe you try something like wood artisan.
With WebStarts you can choose to either register a new domain name or use an existing one. So if you already have a domain name you registered somewhere else you can use that with your website. You'll just need to update the DNS to ns1.webstarts.com and ns2.webstarts.com. You can usually find those settings fairly easily be logging into the account wherever you purchased the domain name. If you get stuck we can help you figure it out.
When you register a new domain name with WebStarts the domain name begins working with your website immediately. We take the complicated process of configuring the domain out of the equation, doing it programmatically, in the background.
After adding a domain name to your website you're ready to get out there and start telling the world your web address. If you're not sure where to promote your domain name here are a few suggestions.
- At the bottom of your emails
- On your business cards and print materials like brochures
- In your social media profiles
- In all of your advertising
- In videos and multimedia