Planning the Perfect Website for You

Designing a new website from scratch is a daunting task, but careful planning will make it a manageable one. Before you begin, create a master list of questions to ask yourself, so you know exactly what to include on your site and the purpose it will serve for your business. This is the most important step in the process, because it will help you avoid a lot of headache later, as well as the potential expense of redoing some of your pages.

Questions to ask yourself before the design process begins:

  • What is the goal of my website?
  • Will it provide basic information about my company or will it include an online store?
  • Will it include all of the products we sell, or just a selection?

What items are most popular with our customers? These are the items that should go out front.

  • Do we want to include a blog, and who will write it? Will it be updated weekly or daily?
  • Who is responsible for updating the website’s content?
  • What is the budget for the design process?
  • What type of design is best for our company?
  • Should it be a minimalist design or will we fill it with a lot of content?
  • Will we create our own videos and photos, or use stock images?
  • Does our team need any training on posting blogs or updating the website?
  • Does the company need to hire someone to manage the site or our social media pages?
  • Will we optimize the site for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets? Mobile
  • Devices are increasingly an important part of mobile commerce. Any company that does business online needs to determine how its customers arrive at its site and make purchases.
  • Who will oversee problems with the website and who will that webmaster report to on the management team?

Consider sitting down with your management team to review these questions so that you’re all in agreement on what your website should accomplish. It’s better to brainstorm as a group before you start the design process, so it isn’t halted because someone has major objections. Team members from other departments may have great suggestions that enhance the value of your site for customers.

What Do Customers Want?
Companies create websites so that they can better serve and reach out to their customers. If you run a brick-and-mortar store, you probably already have an idea of what your customers want and the level of service that makes them happy. This excellent customer service will need to translate over to your website.

Many customers are now accustomed to reaching customer service by both telephone and online chat. If your competitors offer online chat, it’s something you should strongly consider.

For some companies, one or two of their products are many times more popular than others, among their customers. If this is true, give those products a prominent place on the homepage so customers can go right to the product they want.

Once your website is up and running, review your online sales figures and page views to find out where your customers are spending their money. You may want to put a different product on your homepage, or promote it from your blog, because it’s an unexpected online hit among new visitors.

Create and Fine Tune the Site
Before a site goes live, it’s important to test it out on a number of devices in different settings. Ask everyone on your team to check the site at the office and at home, on their smartphones, desktops and other mobile devices. They each need to click on every link they see, to read each text blurb and to walk through the process for making a purchase.

Don’t worry when someone notices a glitch or a page that doesn’t load correctly. That happens with every site. Make a list of problems for your webmaster and make sure they’re corrected before the site goes live and reaches your customers.

This list should include pages that are loading too slowly, grammatical mistakes and anything that can be done better. This is the last chance to polish up the site before it makes its big entrance. Give the site a last once-over to make sure that all the corrections were made.