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8 Step Process to Planning Your Website

As things gear up for autumn, you may be considering getting your website built or upgraded. Here is a simple eight-step process that will help get you started.

Step 1: Website goals

The first step is determining the goals of your website. Some typical reasons for putting up a website are to:

  • Improve visibility and reputation of your company
  • Develop a qualified list of potential customers
  • Sell goods or services online
  • Inform and/or educate visitors

Step 2: Define your audience

Who is your target audience for this website? What is it they would like to see on your site? What information can you provide them? What will they expect your site to do for them?

Step 3: Determine content

You need to determine what content will be on your website. A good place to start is from existing brochures, articles or flyers. Typical pages found on a website can be services/Products, About Us, Frequently Asked Questions, Testimonials, Links and Contact Us.

Step 4: Look for inspiration

Look at other sites for inspiration, especially your competition. What do you like about other sites- the design, the navigation, the activities of the site? This will give you some ideas on how you would like your site to look and/or function.

Step 5: Determine activities and features on your site

It's a proven fact that the more your visitors interact with your web site, the more comfortable they become and therefore the more likely they are to purchase. Determine what kind of activities you want your customers to be able to do on your website. Some common activities or features are:

  • Selling products or services online
  • Gather visitors’ emails for future marketing
  • Visitors can submit or request information
  • Archiving past content such as articles or newsletters (increases a site's usefulness by about 50%)

Step 6: Budget

Website projects can range from under a thousand dollars and go up to several thousand depending on the complexity and size of the site. You also need to consider additional costs of domain name registration, site hosting and maintenance.

Step 7: Timeline

When do you want your website to be live on the Internet? Consider doing a phased-in approach to your website. Have a small site built first, learn how to drive traffic to the site and then add more activities and features to your site to keep visitors coming back. Budget and set a timeline for these updates.

Step 8: Design

Once you decide you need a Web site, it's time to decide who should build it. If you are thinking about building your site yourself, you should consider whether you have the time, skills and expertise to do it. A poorly designed Web site can cost you money, drive away customers and hurt your reputation. To the degree that the site looks professionally done is the degree to which visitors will perceive your professionalism and credibility and their purchasing confidence will follow suit.

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