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    How to plan your web design

    What to know before you build

    Scott Nailon | Sites By Design

    There is seemingly no end to web design businesses in the market. They price themselves from as low as $199, and all the way up to $25,000. Sometimes there is little difference between what you get as an end result.

    After 10+ years running my web design business I have learnt that there is a way of doing things which will ensure the highest chance of success for your website build.

    The biggest mistake people make when buying a website is looking for web design right off the bat. Then a web designer will ask them to pull together their content, some images and make them a website without really knowing their business or their clients.

    Planning your website build will help save time and money in the long run / Source: MG Datacomm

    There are 5 clear steps to building a quality website, if followed step by step you should end up with an awesome website and great results.  These are website planning, content creation, web design, web development and hosting.  In this article we will focus on planning your website and follow up with a little more about the other areas.

    Web design planning

    When you open a new business you would rarely do so without a business plan. Any real investor will not release funding until they have seen a strong business plan. This should be the case for your website as well. Why would you invest time, energy and money into building a website without planning its future and how it will benefit your business?

    When you plan your website in advance you get to choose who it will appeal to and therefore the calibre of your future sales leads.  You also get the chance to plan your search engine ranking, content direction, the user experience and the way they think about your industry – their worldview.

    Search engine ranking

    I have rarely met a business owner who doesn’t want to ensure their website is benefiting from regular search engine traffic. Some people even pay Google thousands per month for this honour. By researching your keywords and planning each page to be compatible with those search terms you will give yourself the best chance of that happening. Planning the next 12 months of your blogging efforts is also wise, ensure you base each blog article on a search term which you want to be seen on as well.

    Content direction

    Your written content is of huge importance, people actually will read your website. If it’s boring or not what they were looking for, you will lose them in the first 10 seconds.

    When writing your content you need guidelines planned. The guidelines should give an idea of the goal of your article, how it will help your reader and what you want the reader to do after reading it. If you have someone write your content for you professionally, that person should be able to ensure they shape the content in a way that compels your reader to want to spend money with your business. That’s called ‘converting content’.

    User experience

    When planning your website it’s important to think about what the visitor will experience on your site, how the site will encourage them to move between pages and the overall subconscious emotional response you want to trigger. Ensure that you plan the site so there is not too many clicks between landing on the site and converting as a customer. The more clicking a visitor has to do the more likely they are to get annoyed and look elsewhere for their information. Likewise on forms, the more fields a user must fill in – the more chance there is of abandonment.

    Website images

    In the planning of your website you need to ensure you select the images which will be used in the web design phase. Ensure they are high quality and represent your business well. Ensure you choose images with people who are similar demographic to your potential clients. Don’t forget to use images with people smiling! You can also get some wonderful images from Stock Photo sites. These can really make a difference and save you a fortune on photography.

    Check out sites like Pexels, iStock, Shutterstock and Adobe Stock. They are often a real help to Web Design.

    Website framework

    The most common web design framework in the industry today is WordPress. Once you get used to it you will find it is not too hard to use and has a lot of added bonus features which can be installed as plugins from within the CMS.

    When selecting a WordPress theme, make sure you don’t just buy the first theme you find.  Many of the cheap themes are sourced from hobby web developers who want to make extra money while they study. They may look great but they often let you down in the code department. This leaves you open to future malfunction not to mention security holes allowing some hackers to penetrate your website. I like to stick with premium theme clubs for my web design. I use Yootheme for many of my projects due to their clean code and great layouts. Yootheme does have the ability to build your site with a site builder, however I avoid complications by just using Widgetkit and raw wordpress.

    Contact local web designers

    Planned web design

    There have been many sites I have planned or re-planned in the past. Here are a few of those which were planned for success and succeeded as a result.

    I have a client who owns a web hosting company which specialises in looking after businesses who have large server needs. His business Website is  I was commissioned to re-plan their website. It was built by a large agency who had done nothing about planning the SEO or implementing onsite SEO. 

    I planned the site over the course of 1 month. I created a development version of the website to work on so as not to cause any issues with the live site. The plan was then implemented onto the website page by page until I was finished. Once the site was put live, it saw great results within just a few days of launching!

    One of my longest held clients is Occupational Safety Solutions, who sells SWMS Templates through their online store. We planned the search engine success for this site as well as the visual user experience. This client had huge benefits from our web design planning and went on to grow their business. 

    Wrap up

    I sincerely hope this article helps you realise the benefits in web design planning and what it will do for your future web design project. If you have any questions feel free to contact myself or one of my team for some great answers!

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