In today’s marketing world, all of the competition within the market has now been transferred into the online realm. What does that mean for you and your business? You need to have a compelling and competitive online presence if you want to stand out! When companies think about their online marketing, they immediately think about digital initiatives such as social media advertising, email marketing and remarketing, etc. Though those items are definitely important if you would like to succeed in the digital space, there is a crucial component that tends to get overlooked way too often. That is; your website. Having all of the above elements are great, but if you do not have a strong website to bring customers back to then you may lose them before you even start a relationship! One of the most important aspects of building and designing a website is the planning process. It may seem tedious, and some may find approaching their website with a “laissez-faire” mindset is the best way to go, it is, however, extremely important that you consider each of the following before building out your site to ensure effectiveness and efficiency.
Although this seems very straight forward, most overthink it or miss the mark all together. Start by asking yourself, what would you like to use your website for? Or in other words, what is the main objective for your site? Is it to gain subscribers? Generate more leads? Close more customers? Inform people on a topic? Persuade an individual to take a desired action? Whatever your goal is, your website has to speak to that goal so that your results translate. For example, if you have a brick and mortar store and are looking to expand into the eCommerce world, you will need to design a website that would be both attractive and easy to navigate through for the end user browsing through your products or what it is that you are offering. Not only will focusing on your goal allow your site to evoke your goal and overall message, it will also help you to remain focused on your project. This will end up saving you time and money by not having to go back and make these fundamental changes to your website in the future; which, as a result, allows you to utilize these resources in other aspects of your business model.
Once you have decided what the goal of your website is, it is now time to figure out the elements and components one must prioritize in order to achieve this goal. In a perfect world, one would be able to plan, prepare, design, build, and launch their website with no time restrictions. The unfortunate reality that most companies face, however, is having a hard deadline that they have to meet and launch their site by. This is when it is important to write down a list of priorities that you feel are absolutely crucial for your site to have in order to achieve your overall goal. After all, you or a developer can always go back into your site later on and make whatever quick fixes and changes required, but if you spend hours of your time trying to think of the perfect sentence to explain that one product, for example, you will never meet your deadline. Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize!
When designing your website, you have to think about the feel you want to evoke. What message do you want to send to your users? What emotion do you want to elicit? Do you want to be more playful or modern? While asking yourself all of these questions you also want to keep your brand in mind. You want to evoke a feel that corresponds to your brand and its overall messaging. If your customers get one message from your advertising, your products, or other run-ins with your brand, but your site does not tell the same story, then there ends up being a misinterpretation of how you are presented and who you want to be in your customer’s eye. This may seem a bit dramatic, but feel really is important. For instance, when you go onto a website that uses very warm, vibrant colours, you assume that the company behind that site has a brand message and vision that corresponds to that feel. Whereas if you go onto a site that uses very dark, shadowy colours, you may feel the opposite. When thinking about your overall feel, the colour theory is extremely important. Some companies will stick to their brand colours and have it set in stone, while others may want to experiment a bit. To learn more about colour theory and how to apply it, click here.
Believe it or not, when designing your site, it is acceptable to use other sites for inspiration. Perhaps you like the layout of a competitor’s site, maybe you like the colour scheme of a site completely unrelated to your target market but still translates appropriately, or maybe you like how another site incorporated video into their banner. You should take the time to browse through multiple sites to identify what it is you like and what you don’t like with your end goal in mind. Now this probably goes without saying, but this doesn’t mean that you can completely plagiarize the layout, design, content, etc., of another website, but using bits and ideas of multiple sites is admissible and even warranted.
In school you probably remember teachers constantly advising you to write out a rough draft of your paper before the final draft, well this is no different. By creating a blueprint of your website you will be able to see your vision come together and be able to make whatever adjustments you feel are necessary. If you blindly create your website, then you will start running into problems that you never accounted for and make it next to impossible to meet the already tight deadline. During this phase you want to map out everything; overall layout, number of sections and categories, page numbers within those sections, content within those sections, features, images, etc. Basically, anything that you want to include in your site needs to be mapped out on this blueprint because you never know if you might need to add or remove an item.
Once you have blueprinted your website, you will understand everything that is needed to really bring the website to life. This is referring to the gathering of your assets. These include anything from images, videos, text (content), etc. You then need to ask yourself, am I going to produce these assets myself or am I going to outsource them? For instance, are you going to take the product images or are you going to hire someone to take the images for you? By gathering all of your assets at the initial phase of your website design you will be able to answer all of these questions and set aside the required amount of time to do so. Once the assets are gathered, it is as simple as inputting them into your site or having a developer do it for you
This is one of the most important components to consider when designing your website. Now that you have realized all of the above, it is time to figure out just how much time you need to achieve it. As mentioned previously, not everyone has the flexibility to pick a date where they are not pressed for time, so it is important to understand just how much time you have so that you can organize how much time will be devoted to each component in order to produce the website envisioned. Though it may sound tedious and maybe even a waste of your time, it will really help to show what you need and how you need to prioritize your time in order to reach your goal.