How To Plan Your Website

Before you pay for a website, or even think about the design, follow these four steps to make a plan for your website.

originally posted: June 4, 2024

If you don’t have a minimum of $75 USD to book a call with me to plan your website, DO NOT talk to me about your website. Miss me with the all the nonsense. If you really want a website, then make a plan for it. Read this post, take notes, and follow through on that thought bubble “I want a website,” without involving me.

Pre-blog rant: I love when people are like “Oh I need a website,” and then hint at hiring me or imply that they will. And then they never follow up or follow through.

BRO I CANNOT EVEN FORMULATE THE VOCABULARY TO CONVEY TO YOU HOW MUCH I FUCKING LOVE THAT.

Jk-rolling on the floor. I hate when people do that.

This is my job: planning and building websites. So if all you want from me is my attention then do something original and impress me. Show me that you took my advice and you showed up for yourself. Leave a comment below to thank me for writing this and giving you practical, useful knowledge which you took the time to apply.

How to Plan Your Website

1. Figure out why you’re getting a website

Why do you want a website? What do you want your website to achieve? Literally what’s the point of it? These questions do not have different answers. You might do a lot of word vomit to get to the real answer, but one simple sentence answers all three.

There are four possible reasons for getting a website:

  1. Maybe it’s money.
  2. Maybe it’s attention.
  3. Maybe it’s just for fun.
  4. Maybe it’s truly a labor of love.

If your reason for getting a website is not to make money – don’t bother me. This is my job, so my reason for making websites is to make money. And I want my client websites to stay online for years so I can showcase them in my portfolio. If you don’t have a plan to make money from your website I don’t want you in my portfolio.

Assuming your end goal is to make money from your website, the second step in planning your website is to

2. Figure out your ideal visitor

EVERYONE cannot be your ideal visitor. If your website is supposed to make money then you should have a business plan. And that business plan should note exactly who your ideal buyer is.

Your ideal buyer and ideal visitor are the same person. The easiest way to figure this out is by demographic – age, gender, location, etc. A more refined approach matches your website to individual personality traits, personal interests or values.

For example, if you provide pet-sitting services, your ideal visitors are pet owners. If you’re a photographer, your ideal visitors are people who need professional photos – models, actors, performance venues, families planning a wedding or christening, or birthday party.

Your ideal visitor is the person who needs the thing your website showcases. Which brings us to the next step in planning your website:

3. Plan relevant website content

If the point of your website is ultimately to earn you money, then ALL of your site content should be purposed to that end. Whether you’re going to ask for donations, sell memberships, or provide consulting or freelance services, every picture and bit of text MUST SHOW VALUE.

Show your value by getting to the point and showing OFF

  • Use high-quality photos that relate to an aspirational or emotional aspect of your work. Use easy-to-read fonts, and clear, short sentences.
  • Show your face on your site. This builds trust with your potential buyers.
  • Keep your portfolio updated and fresh.
  • If you’re going to start a blog, make sure each post gives visitors a taste of your knowledge, a strong indication of your expertise.
  • If you’re selling merchandise make the effort to enhance the photos and craft clever, enticing copy that speaks to people on a deeper level than “cotton blend shirt comes in XS, S, M L, SL.”

All of your content must draw a direct line to something the site visitor wants. It’s not about what you want to say or show. It’s about the visitor wanting to know or see something that will convince them YOU HAVE WHAT THEY NEED.

Speaking of needs, your website needs to be easy to use and easy to navigate. Most creative start-ups won’t have a lot of content at the beginning, and that’s okay. You don’t need to have 11teen items in your navigation or a drop down menu, or a side bar full of tags and extra links.

You only need pages that answer the basic relevant questions:

  1. What are you giving people? (Homepage/shop)
  2. Who are you/what’s your background? (About page)
  3. How do people contact you? (Contact page)
  4. What else do you have? (Portfolio/gallery/blog)

 


 

RELATED READING:

Why Your Homepage Is Important.

Once your homepage loads you have about three seconds to SHOW & tell people exactly why they need to be on your website. Learn How.

 


 

4. Pick Your Features

The last step in making a plan for your website is to choose useful (functional) features that guide visitors to  your shared end goal. Let’s break that down:

The features of your website should give visitors what they want, which leads to visitors giving you what you want. Before you include something in your website, ask yourself, “Will this make it easier or faster for visitors to get what they want?”

For example, a contact form leads to an email from someone who’s interested in possibly working with you. Even better, a paid booking form secures compensation for your time. Easy and fast ways for both of you to get what you want. They email you, you reply. They wanted communication and answer, everybody wins.

Another site feature that could lead to your goal(s) is an e-mail subscriber form. Useful if you’re actually going to do e-mail marketing. If you’re not going to email AT LEAST QUARTERLY what’s the point of collecting email addresses you’re never going to use?

Some sites use pop-up chat boxes to encourage site visitors to engage. You want one? Okay, make sure the chat box also has a mobile app so you can receive real time notifications. Also, be prepared to answer visitors in real time.

Your site may not need a chat-box if you also have a contact form. Unless your business model calls for real-time interaction and you know that this would increase your sales volume, chances are most online start-ups don’t actually need the chat feature. But it sure is shiny and enticing.

And how many times have you seen one, gotten annoyed and closed it?

When you pick out site features, remember that they need to be useful to your visitors first and foremost. As your business grows and your traffic increases you’ll learn more about what your ideal visitors want because they’ll turn into customers who will tell you.

Planning is only the beginning.

I’m old school. I love to write my plans down by hand. I love to draw a website, and make notes I can see as I go. If you’re serious about having a website to showcase work that you’re passionate about then take the time to write out your plan for it. Once you know exactly why you’re getting a website, who you want to visit it, and what you want to show them, THEN you can get into the fun part of picking fonts and colors.

If you’re going to do it yourself show up like you mean it. Look at other websites in your field, and be critical of them. Take the parts you need, and keep your goals in mind as you go. You don’t need every bell and whistle. You only need a clear vision, and a steady commitment to covering your bases.

Do you need help going after what you want? And planning your next steps? Book a one-hour consult with me today, and I'll give you the exact roadmap & step-by-step to achieve your goals.

 

 

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Let me know in the comments 👇🏽

 


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