5 steps to start successful websites.
Every successful website is based on thorough planning. In the following checklist, I have explained which points you should definitely plan in the beginning. The bottom line is that thorough planning even means less work. Because there is nothing more annoying and time-consuming than when a layout or the entire project has to be completely redesigned later because it does not meet the requirements.
1. Set Goals of the Website
The first point to be planned is the goal of the website. If it is clear what should be achieved with the homepage, everything else will be built towards this goal. Possible goals for a website are the following:
- Increase popularity
- Be contacted by interested parties
- Generate new customers
- Sell products
- More newsletter subscribers
The goals should be formulated as precisely as possible and be controllable. This way you can see whether a strategy works or not and what needs to be changed. Remain realistic when setting goals and only set goals that you can actually implement. Also, determine which goals have absolute priority and rank the goals by importance.
2. Define Target Audience
Who should your website primarily appeal to? Try to describe your ideal group of visitors as precisely as possible. Bear in mind that you don’t just want as many visitors as possible, but rather those who meet your goals.
For example, if you want to sell a product on your website, you need visitors who are interested in buying your product. Try to imagine these visitors as precisely as possible. Where are they from? How old are they? What gender do they have and what other interests or hobbies.
The texts of the homepage, the layout and everything else will be built up later so that it primarily appeals to your target group.
3. Structure And Navigation
Next, consider the basic structure of your homepage and the structure of your navigation. I prefer to use pen and paper for this and not planning tools or planning software.
First, write down the titles of each page on your website. Plan a goal for each individual page and determine which target group should be addressed. You can also create a mind map for larger projects.
Then you plan the navigation. You don’t have to worry about the layout yet. But keep in mind that every visitor must be able to find the information they are looking for as easily and as quickly as possible. In order for this to be possible, you have to think carefully about the structure of your content and how it is linked.
The main navigation should not contain more than 6-7 points. Additional pages are noted as sub-navigation points. A mind map with main and secondary branches is also best suited for the visual representation of the navigation structure.
4. Story Design
When developing computer games, the first person who gets hired is a story designer. He thinks about the history of the game. And he also designs the people involved and their background. Only later did graphic designers and programmers work on visual implementation. From my experience, I know that this approach also pays off enormously for websites.
Think of your website as a multimedia story and think about what you want to tell and in what way. Storytelling is as old as mankind itself and is still the most efficient way to communicate and share information.
Also plan how you present the person or team behind your website. You can also read my “About Me” page, how I present myself and what kind of story is behind this website.
5. Create Content And Texts
It is essential to start with the creation of the texts right from the beginning. On websites, the texts are always the key to success. All texts should be tailored to the target group and guide visitors to the execution of the points that are set as goals.
Of course, the texts do not have to be perfected right from the beginning. I even advise against that. But be sure to take enough time to think about what you want to say and how.
Also, collect the pictures and videos that are available to you and think about which pages they best fit. I have put together a guide for finding license-free images with over 30 sources in this article.
When planning, however, you should also bear in mind that the points you never thought about always appear during implementation. The plan must, therefore, be structured so that certain points can be changed later. The planning process is always something that runs through the entire project. Therefore, the plan must be checked again and again and adjusted if necessary.
And of course no project can be done with the website planning alone. You shouldn’t overdo it with the concept. At some point it will also be about implementation. In order for this to run smoothly, however, you first need to know where exactly it should go.
Of course, there are not the same planning steps for every project and every website developer proceeds to a certain extent differently.
Which techniques work best for you? I would be very happy to receive feedback in the comments.