From Idea to Launch: What to Include in Your Website Plan
A website plan is essential to success, regardless of the size of your business or what industry you’re in. You must structure your site so it will accomplish the goals you’ve set out for it.
Website planning takes time and resources. So why is it so important? The main reason is that it ensures your site will work to achieve your goals. It’s the best investment of your time and energy to those ends.
Many businesses outsource their website plan and construction. But today, you can do it yourself and spend less using available tools. You just need to follow a few steps and best practices.
Set Your Goals
A goal is at the core of your website plan. First, you must decide what to do with site traffic. For example, if you’re selling products, the goal would be to convert visitors to buyers.
However, you may have other goals in mind. It might be for people to sign up for your mailing list. You may use your website to grow your client list. It might be a tool for leading people to your webinar, or online forum.
Identify Your Target Audience
The success of your website depends on how well you meet your audience’s needs, so you need a clear understanding of the issues they face. For this purpose, you should create an ideal customer profile.
Your ideal customer profile describes the individual who is the perfect match for your products and services. Describe them regarding demographics, values and attitudes, buying behaviour, and pain points. The pain points are essential as your content needs to address them and offer solutions.
Start by making some educated guesses, then research your target market online and anywhere offline where touchpoints exist. The more you base your profile on objective data and feedback, the more accurate and effective it will be. You’ll refine this once you launch your site and engage with visitors.
Define Your Unique Value Proposition
Your Unique Value Proposition is a statement that describes how your offerings uniquely meet the needs of your target audience. The UVP is the core message behind all your marketing and branding. It helps you clarify what’s special about your products.
You can uncover your UVP by asking questions like:
- How are you different from your competitors?
- Why do your customers choose to buy from you and not someone else?
- What benefits do the customers get from using your products? How are their lives made better?
- Why do these specific benefits matter to your customers?
- What problems do you solve for your customers?
- What are the unique strengths you bring to the table?
It would be best if you researched your competitors. Try to gain insights into how they meet the needs of their customers. This can help you come up with ideas to set yourself apart.
Take your time working this out and seek feedback from members of your team or others acquainted with your business. Since it’s the core of your marketing, it needs to reflect how your customers feel about you.
Choose Your Platform
Now, it’s time for the nuts and bolts of your site. First, you’ll need to choose a service to host your website and give you a domain name and URL.
A hosting service is a company that allows businesses to use their server for storing their website. For a monthly fee, they keep your site running 24/7. Your domain names and URLs and are usually included in the price.
You should get an email with your domain name. This is better than using a free service like Yahoo or Gmail because it makes you look more professional. You can get your email address from a professional hosting service or the same web provider. Hosting services include Dreamhost, BlueHost, and Hostinger.
To make it easy, you could use a website builder to create your site. A website builder is a tool or platform like Wix, Squarespace, or Shopify that allows you to build your site without coding or programming skills. Instead, it offers templates and tools to customize, create pages, and add content.
However, personally, I would recommend investing in a WordPress website and using a premium theme, like Divi from Elegant Themes. While it may seem like a higher investment initially, it will pay off in the long term.
Offer Engaging Content
Content is why people come to your website and stay there. It’s also one of the primary drivers of conversions. If people visit your website and find nothing interesting to read or watch, they’ll leave.
Engaging content is interesting and relevant to your visitors. It must match what they’re looking for when they come to your website from another source. The best content for engagement addresses problems the audience is facing and offers viable solutions.
Think about the ways you can help your target market with their problems. What can you teach them that would make their lives easier, save them money, or remove an obstacle they’re facing?
The content also needs to be relevant to your offers. This creates a seamless experience where people come to your site looking for help with problems. They will find information that offers solutions and might check out your offers for more.
Search Engine Optimization
You can’t convert website traffic if there’s no traffic to begin with. You could have highly engaging content and amazingly relevant offers, but without visitors, you won’t have anyone to convert.
Since traffic is the lifeblood of any website, you need a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy for your website planning. SEO includes various techniques to help Google index your site to send you the right traffic.
The basics of SEO include:
- Keywords. You use these search terms in your content and metadata people search for on Google.
- Fresh Content. You have high-quality content that is updated regularly.
- Backlinks. These are links coming to your website from other sites. They should be high-quality, relevant links from credible sources.
- Metadata. Tags and meta descriptions are vital for telling Google what your site is about.
- Clear Navigation. Your site should have simple, intuitive navigation between the pages with a logical internal linking structure.
You can optimize your site easily using tools like Google’s Keyword Tool.
Good User Experience
A good user experience simply means that people enjoy using your site. They can easily find what they’re looking for and get what they want. Everything is clear and straightforward. It is essential for both SEO and on-page conversions.
For a good user experience, your site needs:
- Easy-to-understand navigation
- Fast loading times across multiple browsers
- Functionality across all devices
- A search bar to make pages searchable
- Clean design
Testing is a crucial part of your website plan. Your site must be tested thoroughly before it goes live and regularly once it’s up and running.
Website testing takes many different forms. It includes:
- Testing metadata
- Checking browser capability and responsiveness on different devices
- Running a speed test
- Checking for broken links and 404 error pages
You can also test your site with real human beings. One way to do this is to invite friends, family, and colleagues to give you feedback. Another idea is to do a soft launch where you make it available to a limited number of people before the big launch.
Your Plan for Monitoring Performance
Finally, you need a plan for monitoring and tracking metrics. This helps you measure your new site’s progress toward your goals and success in converting visitors. It will show you areas of improvement to make it even more effective at meeting your visitors’ needs.
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