Best practice in web design

Planning your website


Planning is essential when it comes to designing a website. Lack of planning can lead to money lost, poor user experience and a website that reflects negatively on your business.

Website project planning

Website planning begins by first identifying your website's exact purpose. Typical reasons why businesses develop websites include:

  • building brand awareness
  • finding new customers
  • saving money
  • selling products
  • providing improved customer support

The key to effective planning is realising that you are not building a website for yourself. You're creating it for your prospective audience, which can include your current and potential customers, new prospects, stakeholders, suppliers and partners.

Website content planning

Decide on the type of content you will need to support the objectives of your site and how to present this online. Think about balancing the amount of text, images and interactive content that you wish to publish on your site. Look at what your competitors are doing and try to understand what the business opportunities are for your website.

Learn as much as you can about the audience you are trying to reach. Think about:

  • what will make them visit your website
  • what they will want when they get there
  • what will encourage them to return

If you are creating an e-commerce website, provide unique descriptions for your products or services. This will help with search engine optimisation and ensure that you stand apart from your competitors.

Thorough market research will help you lay a firm foundation for your website. You will want to research your competitors, your products, your target markets and consider internal resources and processes to inform your project.

See how to set up an e-commerce website (video tutorial).

When you are planning content for your site, don't forget you are legally required to publish certain company information - see business websites: legal requirements.

Website structure planning

When it comes to planning your website, it may help to map out its structure in a diagram or by using wireframes. You can do this on paper or with simple digital tools like Word or PowerPoint.

A key structural element is a site map, often shaped like a flow chart. You can build a site map in Word, or with specialised commercial software and even some freeware. An outline with bulleted lists and indentations can serve the same purpose. Indicate pages, sub-pages and other structural breaks elements that will make up your website.

Make your customer's journey on your site as effective and efficient as possible - the principles of user-centred design can help with this.