Welcome back to our series on How To Get Your Business Online? In our previous post for this series, we covered how to choose the right domain. Once you have chosen the right domain, the next step is to plan your website so let’s go over how to do that. 

Why Should you Plan your Website?  

Planning your website will save you headaches down the line. With a plan in place, you can speed up the process of getting your website online. Planning your website ensures that time and resources are used efficiently, especially if you outsource any part of the process.  

Planning your website makes it easy to create the right content, layout, and align your website with your business objectives and goals. Identifying your business goals is the first step in planning your website. 

Step 1: Identify Your Goals  

The first step in planning your website is to determine your goals. Some questions to ask yourself are:  

  • What is the role of the website?  
  • What does success look like for your website?  
  • Is the website informational or will you be selling products?  
  • Is it to boost your online engagement or strictly focused on improving the bottom line?  

These questions help you determine a clear-cut goal that will influence how the rest of your website looks. You may find that most of your customers buy in person and gather information online, in that case, improving your online presence should be your goal. These goals can be broken down into smaller actions.  

In the same example of improving your online presence, a specific action item is to work on your local SEO by building a Google business profile and getting your business onto sites such as Yelp. Now you see how goals can be broken down into action items. As a result, you build consistency across the website. However, you can only do this once you have clear SMART goals.  

Step 2: Determine Your Target Audience 

The next question to ask yourself is, whom are you selling to?. If you have been running your business offline, you probably have a good idea of how your ideal customer looks, talks, and is motivated by using your business data. Understanding your target audience will also help you plan content. For example, if your target audience lives a busy life, the content on your website should be straight to the point. 

Some details that can help you determine your target audience are:  

  • Age  
  • Income  
  • Education  
  • Job Title  
  • Personality traits  
  • Motivations  
  • Favourite hobbies and more  

Once your business is online, you will be able to connect to Google Analytics which will further help you understand your target audience and their browsing habits. If you don’t have access to data that will help you build a target audience you can always send out surveys to your potential customers.  

Step 3: Identify Specific Attributes Needed for Your Website  

Now you can start planning out the specifics of your website. Break down your sites into different pages. Some of the main pages you need are:  

  • Homepage 
  • About Page  
  • Shop Page (Products/Services)  
  • Contact Page 
  • Policy Page  

Analyze your business needs and refer to the goals you outlined in step 1 to determine what pages your website needs. Is your product complex? Does it require a FAQ page? Where can customers go to learn about the different workings of your product? These questions will help you determine what pages you need to build.  

Moreover, you also need to start picking out the look of your website. Though it doesn’t have to be extremely detailed, you can start picking out what kind of imagery, colours, typography, and layout you want. Finally, you will also need to choose what payment methods you want to accept if your website is a storefront. Generally, the more payment options you have the better it is, however, be sure to use payment methods that your target audience will use. For example, if Apple pay is a common method of payment for your audience, then having that option will make it easier for them to buy.  

Step 4: Perform a Competitors Analysis  

The final step in planning your website is to perform a competitive analysis. Determine your competitors and analyze their websites. Look for weaknesses that you can take advantage of. For example, your competitors may not have a FAQ page or chat option. Take note of it, and offer it to your users for a competitive advantage.  

To get a better analysis, use their website as if you are a user and look for ways to improve certain processes such as the checkout process or browsing the products page. On the other hand, you may see your competitors all have something in common, this tells you that this is an important facet you need to have.  

Bonus Tip: Start Looking at Web Hosting Options

Though choosing your web hosting provider is a part of the next step in designing your website, it is a good idea to start thinking about whom you want to host with. You want to host with someone reliable, who has a great customer support and has the specs to run your website smoothly. By planning your website, you can anticipate whether your site can be sufficient with a shared hosting solution or if you need something with more resources.   

Overview

With all that complete you should have a solid plan for your website. In the next step of getting your business online, we are going to go over how to design your website so make sure you watch out for it. If you still need to choose a good domain name, click here to learn how to do that

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