Website Planning: A Complete Guide

At some point, you have found yourself on a website that immediately gave you a bad impression. It might have been clunky to navigate, had bad visuals, or just didn’t work as it should. If you run any type of organization, you can avoid this outcome with website planning.

Website planning is the process of thinking about what you want your website to accomplish and how you want it to look. Making a good website plan can take some time and effort, but the payoff comes in reduced time and costs and a much better website. A website design and development team can advise you throughout this process.

At Inclind, we work with businesses, nonprofitshealthcare providers, and membership organizations to help them create beautiful, effective websites. We offer full-service website design and development services, from custom integrations to website consulting. Reach out today to learn more about how we can help you design or redesign your website to make it as functional as possible.

Why Do You Need a Website Plan?

A website is necessary for most organizations in 2024 and beyond. It is also an investment. Whether you get a custom website or utilize a template, you will likely spend a lot of money designing and developing a site. It is important to have a strategy in place before you build the website.

Website planning involves designing and organizing a website to meet your objectives and customers' or clients' needs. It is akin to working with an architect to develop blueprints before the contractor builds your house. Without these blueprints - including specifications for things like materials and finishes - your home-building project will likely be an expensive mess.

A comprehensive website plan will help you:

  • Establish priorities and set expectations for your website, often through the process of journey mapping
  • Save time and money by avoiding unnecessary revisions and edits
  • Enhance user experience (UX) so that the website is as easy as possible to navigate
  • Increase search engine ranking by considering search engine optimization (SEO) as part of the process
  • Grow your reach through better overall design and ranking high in search engine results

Below, we outline the steps to create a smart website plan.

Step By Step Guide to Planning a Website

When you begin the website development process, your design and development team should talk to you about a website plan. While much of the information will come from you, they can work with you to help you understand what exactly you should be doing - and the technical issues that you should consider. Below is a complete guide to website planning to help you get started.

Step 1: Identify Your Goals

For any venture, it is crucial to, first and foremost, understand what your goals are. Why exactly are you building a new website? Do you want to increase sales, spread awareness, or get more members? Setting goals will help you not only focus the work but allow you to measure your progress towards attaining your goals.

Step 2: Consider Your Target Audience

Next, you should consider your target audience, which can include the customers or clients you already serve - and those you would like to serve in the future. This step can help you close the gap between where you currently are and where you want to be. It also allows you to communicate with users in a way that appeals to them, which helps you meet your goals as an organization.

Step 3: Define Your Requirements

In addition to considering what your current and potential users may want and need, you also need to think about what your organization requires from a website. For example, you might need a payment gateway, a way to donate, or the ability to translate your page content into one or more languages.

Step 4: Do Your Research 

When planning a website, going on instinct or what you think you need is easy. Before making any decisions, you should have some data to back it up so that your website is as functional and practical as possible. This is the time to use all your analytics from your existing website and/or other systems, such as CRM software. 

Step 5: Plan Out Your Site’s Information Architecture

During this next step, you will need to design the structure of your website. How will users access the content on your website? The goal here is to ensure that your site's content - including photos and videos, in addition to written content - is easily accessible to all visitors.

Step 6: Develop a “Map” for Your Website

At this point, you will need to develop a visual map - often referred to as a sitemap - for your website. Plotting out how your website will be arranged will ensure that you can see how the content of your website will be structured. A straightforward way of doing this is to use post-its on a blank wall, moving each page to where it makes sense based on your website goals and needs.

Step 7: Create Content for Your Pages

The final step of the planning process involves developing the content that will be on the site. This should include written as well as visual content. Make sure that your content is consistent with your branding. It should also be done before the website design and development process starts so that your project isn’t delayed by the need to create content.

How Inclind Can Help You Build a Website

The process of planning a website may seem daunting, particularly if you haven’t done it before. While some organizations can work on a website plan before reaching out to a web design and development firm, others will need assistance to help them through the process. At Inclind, we can help you understand the ins and outs of the website design and redesign process - from planning to final execution.

Based in Delaware, Inclind works with nonprofits, businesses, membership organizations, healthcare systems, real estate brokerages, and e-commerce businesses to help them build effective, well-designed websites. We understand that most people aren’t website design and development experts - and we are happy to guide you through the process. Whether you need help with conversion rate optimizationaccessibilityongoing maintenance, or a whole new website, we can make it happen.

If you're interested in knowing more about our web design, development, and support services, we are always here to chat with you. You can fill out our online contact form or hit the live chat button to speak to one of our experts about your website design or redesign.

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