We're not going to lie to you. Planning a building a website can be a lot of work. Even the most avid website builder will tell you that their love of the process is tempered by the frustrations that they face on a daily basis. The building of your website will go much smoother if you take the time to develop a sound website plan beforehand that will guide you through the rest of the process.
What you need to know
You need to ask yourself why you need an online presence and what you want to get out of it. You have a target audience that you want to reach, but how do you propose to do that? Having a website in and of itself is not a catchall solution. What value are you offering that will compel people to visit your website? More importantly, what do you want them to do once they are there? These are questions that you should be able to answer with your website plan.
Where to start
When you are planning a trip, one of the first things that you do is look at a map. Planning out a website is no different. Starting your website plan by mapping out your website will go a long way toward clarifying what your site will be able to do for you and for the site's visitors. If your website is just a single page without a sitemap that is a significant failure in design. It doesn't matter if you sketch this sitemap on the back of a napkin or use advanced website builder software. It will be your primary reference throughout the process, and you will be glad that you did it first.
Keep in mind that a great deal of website traffic these days comes from mobile devices. With this in mind, keep the principles of responsive design as a firm part of your website planning. You may need to forgo large graphics or other flourishes that would not be germane to those who are trying to view your website on their smartphone or tablet device.
The purpose-driven website
Your watchword should be usability. Always consider the purpose of your site throughout your planning. You will find that form does indeed follow function. You never want your visitors to be confused about what the point of your website truly is. Navigation should be easy and within established norms that people are used to. This doesn't mean that you have to completely follow the structure of other websites, but if there is a point that you do diverge there much be a specific purpose to it and one that your visitors will readily comprehend.
Write down everything
This may do without saying, but record everything in the process of your website planning. Even ideas that you discard along the way may have value down the line. Never assume that you will be able to remember a good idea or that an idea is bad because it is difficult. You may find that later on in your website planning it may just be the idea that brings it all together.
For more information on how to start your website planning, including a free website builder and other helpful tools, please visit www.site123.com.
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