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Website planning is essential for creating a successful website. It helps to ensure that all necessary components are included in the website and that it meets the needs of the user.

Website planning, like any type of planning, is all about coming up with a strategy for your website so that you’re confident you’ll know how to plan for its marketing, hosting, and success.

What are your Website Planning Goals?

Website Planning
When you start your website planning, be sure to understand how you’re going to make money with your website, and keep that in mind as you work.

Ask yourself what you hope to gain by having a website, it may seem like a fairly simple question but one of the most vital questions that people forget to ask themselves before they start their website planning process is the most obvious one, what is your revenue model?

Simply put, how are you going to make money with your website?

I like to have my website design clients write down their revenue plan on a sticky note and put it somewhere they can see it while they’re in their website planning process. That way, you’ll not forget what you’re really trying to do.

Website Planning Steps

Website Planning with pen and paper
Planning a website is a lot easier on a simple notepad, so turn off your computer and have a coffee while you work.

It’ll likely surprise some of you to learn that I always do my website planning with pen and paper, never on the computer for the first steps. There are a few reasons I do this, but likely the most important is that writing your thoughts down makes you think about them differently.

Understanding what Really Matters

The very first step I take when working on a new website is to write down a list of the most important things for the visitors of the website. Often, business owners get confused about the purpose of a website and focus on what matters to their business, instead of focussing on what matters to website visitors. Remember, your website is about your prospective customer’s experience, and should always focus on their needs first.

So for thisismyurl.com for example, I created a list of the most important things on my website and wrote them down.

  • who I am;
  • my tutorials;
  • services and what I do;
  • how to reach me;
  • my free website quote generator;

Now that I had a list of the most important things for me, and my customers to find on thisismyurl.com, I order them and create the begins of a sitemap for my website.

Website Planning on Paper for thisismyurl
Setting up my most important sections of the website on paper allowed me to quickly find, and change things that matter.

Focussing on Your Goals

My next step during the website planning stages is to define a handful of keywords for the overall website. These keywords or simple key phrases aren’t just used for Search Engine Optimation, they’re also used to help focus the purpose of the website.

For my website, which is all about funneling sales to my web design, photography, and marketing services, I’ve set those three keywords as my overall goals during the website planning process. That allows me to look at every page and every post in my plans and determine if they add to the goal of driving traffic to my sales funnel.

Creating a Website Wireframe

Website Planning Wireframes
Creating website wireframes is an important part of website planning, it allows you to see the entirety of a website and begin planning it’s SEO.

Using a pen and paper to help organize your thoughts, start creating the logical flow of pages found on your website and organize them into a hierarchal structure that makes sense.

This is a great time to cut the clutter of your website down so that you’ll have fewer pages as possible to worry about during the development of your website. Grouping these pages into clusters will help you remember which pages below to which sections. For larger sites, using sticky notes on a wall is a tried and true method of ensuring your site can be represented quickly and easily.

Remember that your website structure should reflect your customer’s top priorities that have already been established. Don’t worry yet about how the pages flow together, just know that for each section of your website, you’ll have pages that are children of the ones above.

For example here on thisismyurl.com, I broke down the structure of my website to look similar to this:

When you look at the structure of my website at this point, you’ll notice that it’s reflecting not only the logical structure a person would expect to find, almost as if it’s a book, but also how  Google needs to see it. That’s key, your website structure should make sense from a Search Engine Optimization perspective, to ensure it’ll help drive organic traffic to your website.

Website Planning for Content

This is generally the first time in the process I turn my computer back on and load up Excel (or Google Sheets) to begin working on the next steps of planning content for my website. For each of my web pages, I now take the time to write down a few key pieces of information:

  • The Title I want for this page;
  • A 10-20 word summary of what this page is about;
  • who is this page intended for;
  • 2 keywords or phrases I’d like to use as the focus of the page;
  • what should my visitor do after reading this page;
Website Planning basic layout
An early stage of a website sitemap. This spreadsheet document makes it easy to move content and see the overall site structure.

Don’t worry about getting it right the first time, start with a rough draft of your website plan and continue to do interactions until you have a basic skeleton of your page titles and the hierarchy your customer expect to find on your website.

Setting up Your Website as a Site

Now that you have a complete view of what your website should look like, it’s time to move onto setting up a WordPress website either locally or with a hosting provider to begin building your own website.

Don’t forget to register a domain name for your website!