You want a website. Or you have a website, and there are some things you want to change.
Either way, and whether you are doing it yourself, or paying someone else to do it for you, it’s a good idea to do some planning. The more decisions you make upfront, the more efficient the build process or rebuild process will be.
Here’s my list of things to think about – they might not all apply to you – but you should try to make as complete a list as you can.
What is the name of your business/organisation/service? What’s your tagline?
You might think that this is obvious – but it might not be obvious to the person who is building your new site. Even if you are doing the work yourself, write your name down exactly the way you want it. And if your business has a tagline, then note that as well.
What service do you offer
In a paragraph or two, write down what you do. This will help you, or the web designer, form a picture of what’s needed.
What purpose(s) does the website serve?
What do you want the website for? Again, this seems an obvious question but there are several things that need to be defined upfront, because they dictate the kind of site you will get. An online shop is going to look very different from a one-page site in which someone promotes their advertising agency.
Some of the obvious uses of a website:
- It’s a shopfront – a simple online representation of your business
- It’s a shopfront – but you also want it to reflect what you do, and to be able change that as you go along (for example through written articles and pictures)
- It sells digital or physical products
- Or you might want all of the above.
If you could control the words that people see when they find you in a search, what would those words be?
This is the essential brand description and it will (perhaps) determine what people see when they see your site in a set of search results. Keep it short and simple – 25 words or less. (Bear in mind that Google doesn’t always display this result – there’s a good explanation of that here: Google shows the wrong meta description for my site).
Google’s, for instance, looks like this:
Do you want want a one page website or do you want menus? Either way, what elements must the site have?
Think of a big news website, and its various ways of navigating the site: News, Sport, Business and so on. Those are menus which take you to different pages on the site.
A one page site has all the information in one place – there’s a good example here.
Or you could have a site – like mine – which has most of the information on one page, but also has a simple menu structure.
Which ever you choose, think about the items/units/bits of information you will probably want on your site. These items typically include:
- Home (the main page)
- About (tells the world about you or your business)
- Services (what you offer)
- Blog (if you want written content to support your brand)
- Contact page
Overall, what do you want your site to look like?
This list of choices can help to focus your thinking:
- Modern / Vintage
- Masculine / Feminine / Neutral
- Minimalist / Detailed
- Fun / Serious
- Creative / Technical
- Monochrome / one colour accent / lots of colours
Are there any websites you particularly like?
Do some research, looking at the websites of your competitors, or those in related fields. If there are any that you like as soon as you see them, note that web address. Don’t overthink this one – your instinctive likes and dislikes are important.
You may already have some brand colours.
If not, there’s a good article on colour theory here: Using Color to Enhance Your Design
One thing to understand – you will get a better result the more specific you can be. Don’t say “turquoise” – give your website designer the code that generates the specific shade you want. For example the greeny-blue you see everywhere on my site has this code: 07A397.
There’s a lovely colour picker, which can help you get that bit of code, here.
By all means, spend a lot of time picking the exact typeface you want.
But remember, you’re going to have to specify the font in the design of the site, so choosing a particular font means you’re going to be doing some coding (if you are buiding or revamping the site yourself).
To keep it simple: The first step is make a fundamental decision – do you want a serif font or a sans serif font? In completely non-technical terms serif fonts have curly bits, and sans serif fonts don’t.
If you are working with a designer, and you’ve seen a typeface you like, take screenshot and make a note of the site where you saw it.
A helpful article on web typography: Everything you need to know about web fonts
Have your logo and any other images that might be needed ready. (Oh and – remember to use pictures that you actually have rights to use: my guide here)
Footer – the bottom of the site – what must be there?
What must be on every single page of the site?
Make a list of items that must show no matter where you are on the site. Obvious contenders;
- A link to contact details
- Links to your social media channels (if you want links in addition to those in the footer).
Main picture: Kelly Sikkema, Unsplash
The stuff that’s always at the bottom of blog posts:
Contact me if you would like to chat about how I can help with all your communication needs (writing, editing, coaching and training, social media).
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