Whether you are thinking about your very first website or you are looking to have your current one redone, proper website design planning pays big.
Set Your Website Goals:
Why do you want the new website? For most folks it is to bring in more sales, make more money. Try to be a little more specific though. Remember a good website is a powerful, proactive business advertising and marketing tool. Consider what your business goals are. Even if you just want to "make more money", how do you want to accomplish that. Do you want to sell more of the products that have a higher profit margin and require less support? Do you want more of your revenue to come from retainer based, recurring professional services? Forget hits, clicks, page views, impressions and other metrics. They may give you some insight but the ability of your website to forward these goals is ultimately how real success should be measured.
Define Your Website Audience:
Think about the different types of people you need to have visit your website in order to meet your goals. What are the products or services you sell that address a desire or need of theirs. What are the things that trouble them that your products or services resolve. What are they most likely to be motivated by? Lowest price? Best service?
Regardless of your business, if you provide a variety of products or services you are likely to have a few different types of visitors, each of them motivated by different things. Remember these visitor types in your website design planning. The better you speak to each of those visitor types' motivations, the more likely you are to affect their buying decision.
Set Your Website Design Objectives:
I bet you are thinking you just did this a moment ago. Not so fast. What we need to think about here is a lot more direct than your website goals. Think about each type of visitor that makes up your audience. What do you want them to do most when they visit your website? Businesses that you want to advertise in your magazine are not likely to make an immediate purchase, Your objective for them may be to fill out a form requesting a sales consultation. What about the people you want to subscribe to your magazine? I bet it would be great if they made that purchase right there on the spot.
Do you think every visitor will fulfill your preplanned objective? Of course not. The ones that don't may still be valuable. What can we ask of an interested and qualified visitor who is just not ready to pull the trigger? How about subscribing to your online newsletter, entering themselves in your giveaway, downloading a coupon or asking to have a question answered? There a lots of ways to get contact information from a website visitor so you can follow up with them later. Go back to what their desires, and painpoints are. What motivates them? Now you're getting it.
Define Your Website Pages:
What do most people want to know when they visit your site? Do they want to know about YOU? Are they all anxious to get to your site to learn about your mission and vision statements? Unless they are a close relative chances are that is not it They want to know what you do and what's in it for them. Your pages need to answer that. Instead of starting with "About Us" like most websites, start with "Services" or "Products".
We are not going to talk about Search Engine Optimization ( SEO ) except for the little part that is important to consider in website planning. An entire website is not optimized for search, rather each page is optimized for one, occasionally two, search phrases. If you want your website to be found when people are searching for Savings Accounts and Auto Loans, you better be sure to have a separate page for each of those services.
Lastly make sure your menus, or "navigation", is intuitive. Using cute or funny names for your main links is probably a very bad idea unless you are absolutely sure your visitors know what they mean.
Planning for Website Design Perfection is easy if alway keep the end in mind. Remember what it is you really want and the rest will fall in place.