Successful Business Websites Start with a Plan
How information is organized and accessed is the difference between a successful site…and not so much
Haphazard, poorly conceived and executed sites are so common That any organized website is richly rewarded:
Visitors like easy to use, logical concise sites and are likely to become customers
Search engines reward well-planned sites with detailed indexing and better rankings.
The time invested in planning your WordPress website will net a successful website that meets clearly identified goals and provides compelling content that draws your audience to your site again and again.
In addition it will be easy to navigate and is attractively designed to complement the content.
Ten steps for planning a successful business site
- Define the purpose of your site
- Identify your goals for the website
- Identify your target audience
- Create a list of content topics and keywords that will attract your target audience
- Divide your keyword list into content categories
- Draw a flow chart of Pages with connecting links
- Create a navigation menu
- Develop a unified site design
- Design easy to follow action steps for site visitors
- Commit to treating your website as a business unit and follow a set schedule for updating content
1. Purpose of Site
- Successful business projects always “Start with the end in mind.”
- Why are you willing to commit time talent and treasure to building a site?
- At the end of the day, what do you want this site to do for you?
2. Identify your goals for the website
Here are some sample goals you might have for you website:
- Provide current or potential customers with information
- Earn high page ranking in search engines
- Generate new leads
- Sell products
3. Identify your target audience
- Who are you trying to reach?
- What are they looking for when they come the site?
- What do you want them to do when they get there — what is the Action Step?
4. Create a list of content topics and keywords that will attract your target audience
- Who would you consider your closest competitor?
- What words or phases would you enter into Google to find the services or products that business/organization offers?
5. Divide your keyword list into content categories
- Create a list of all of the content that you would like to include on your website that both achieves your goals and would be of interest to your audience.
- At this point, just write whatever comes to mind — do not try to organize it.
- Divide the List Into Post-it Notes
- Now that you have this list of content, organize it into site-pages.
6. Draw a flow chart (site map) of Pages with connecting links
- On a piece of paper and draw a box that represents each page of your website.
- Draw lines between the boxes showing how you want the pages to connect to each other.
- Draw a flow chart to show how you want users to navigate through the content.
- Your flow chart shows the user’s experience — how he or she can navigate through the content.
7. Create a navigation menu
Navigation and Site Maps
- Navigation is the organization of your website so you can make sure each page links to others.
- Actually write out your sitemap and plan where the pages of your website will go and where they will link.
- This avoids confusing connections that lead to visitors giving up and going away.
- Visitors use your navigation menu to move to other pages on your website
- Your menus need to be clear and consistent throughout your site.
- Depending on your theme or personal preference the navigation menu can appear in the top or in either of the sidebars
- Your top navigation bar should be limited to about eight links.
- Each page has an obvious link to the homepage
- Each page can be summed up with a keyword or keyword phrase, and those keywords are your navigation labels
- Every button is obvious and clearly labeled: the site navigation requires no explanation
- The navigation buttons are either along the top or on the left-hand side of the page (visual tracking software indicates this is optimal positioning)
- Your navigation is identical on every page
- Turn off Flash images that slow or confuse visitors’ navigation of site
- You have a sitemap for visitors and an XML Sitemap for search engines
- For every page, you can answer these questions within 10-seconds:
- Where am I?
- Where have I been?
- Where can I go?
- How do I get to the home page?
- Your site is searchable, so your users can opt to navigate your site via the search bar
- If yours is an eCom site, all product images and descriptions link directly to the order form
- All the links to content on other pages within your site work
- Visitors don’t have to register to browse your site
- The site logo is above the fold in the same place on every page and links back to the homepage
- You give people several ways to get to the same place.
- You don’t link to unfinished or ‘under construction’ pages – finish the page then link to it.
8. Site Plan
Producing A Plan for Your Site
- On a piece of notebook paper, or using post-its describe your site.
Answer the following questions:
- What am I going to do with this?
- Who is going to read this?
- What kinds of information will I be posting?
- Why am I doing this?
- Who am I doing this for?
- How often am I going to be posting and adding information?
Site Plan Summary
Compile this information into a paragraph so it looks like this:
This website will be dedicated to ______and ______,
and cover the topics of ______and _______.
The audience will be __________ ________________ _______.
I will be adding posts every _____________
about ________ _______ ______________.
I am doing this because _____________ _____________.
8. Develop a unified site design
Create a Visual Theme that is Consistent
Your visual theme creates the mood and atmosphere of your website.
- A consistent set of colors and images creates an impression in peoples minds and imaginations.
- Choose a combination of colors that you will use throughout your site.
- Try to choose color combinations that are high contrast and easy on the eyes.
- Choose a set of colors that are consistent with the atmosphere you are trying to create.
9. Design easy to follow action steps for site visitors
A BIG GREEN BUTTON
10. Your Website Is A Business Unit
Commit to treating your website as a business unit and follow a set schedule for updating content
Make sure that your website reflects and supports both your business plan and the marketing strategy you have set for your business
Blossom Braemer says
Great post! Thank you for the road map.