Attractive and efficient websites need planning
Before you can plan your website and long before you ask someone to design one for you, you need to decide exactly what you want a website for, what you want it to achieve and, ideally, why. If you think this sounds a little obvious, you're a step ahead of a lot of people who never ask the question, let alone know the answer.
Where to start?
Imagine you've been invited to provide a language course for a small group of people. What information do you need in order to start preparing the course? You might want to know which language your students want to study, who the students are, what their ages are, their existing levels, their needs and expectations and how your performance will be measured. It would be an advantage if you knew what sort of things your new students respond well to, and what will leave them unimpressed. It's also useful to know when and where the lessons will take place.
Now, perhaps that's not the perfect analogy, but it's not a bad place to start from.
- What do you want your website to do? - What are your objectives?
- What product or service do you want to offer?
- Who are your target customers or clients? What is their age, location, type?
- Who are your competitors?
- How do you differ from your competitors?
- Do you work in, or are you trying to create, a niche market?
- Is there a specific message or image you want to communicate, and what is it?
- What websites have you seen that you like, or don't like, and what did or didn't you like?
- How and where do you plan to promote your website?
Are you happy with your answers?
If you find it hard to answer these questions, the process of trying should be beneficial. You may have known you wanted or needed a website, but were you able to explain why? It may sound a little obvious, but if you can identify and describe your objectives and who the site is aiming to attract, you are more likely to end up with a website which does what you want.
Once you have established the reasons and objectives of your website, you need to think about what type of website you want, whether to design it yourself or pay a professional, and how you can get your message across. All of this, from the type of site to the wording of your content and the visual aspects of the site must dovetail with what you want the site to achieve.