So you’ve decided that this is the year to redesign your website, or to launch your startup. Hello, new website!

As the saying goes, a (website) change is as good as a holiday… or at least from what I remember of them (thanks COVID-19).

But you’ll know from your last vacay there’s a lot of planning that has to happen before you get to lie back on a beach lounger with a cocktail in hand.

And it’s the same with your website.

There are a lot of steps that have to happen before you can bask in the (digital) rays of a fresh design. And creating a website design plan is vital to make sure your project stays on track and on budget.

So grab your pen and a notebook and let’s get started.

Define your website goals

First, take a bit of time to decide what you want to get out of your website design. A website shouldn’t just look good. Remember, it’s an essential component of your business, helping to build trust, showcase your products and services, and encourage your visitors to take action.

Consider the key features and elements your website needs. Not just for now, but as you grow.

Do you need eCommerce functionality? Booking forms for events? Integration with a payment gateway? What about an email list?

Consider also the pages or sections you need. Will you have an opt-in to get people onto your mailing list? Or a blog so you can share your knowledge and resources? What’s the sales process your clients go through from landing on the website to booking with you?

Once you’re clear on your goals, you’ll find it much easier to create your website design strategy.

What actually goes into a website design?

A website isn’t just a series of colourful pages. The copy, photography, design and structure work together to present a story for your business.

Often, small business owners will focus on the actual website build, without considering the other components. The result is a website that doesn’t truly reflect their business purpose or who they want to serve.

As you create your website design project plan, make sure you’ve factored in each of these elements:

  • Branding
  • Photography
  • Copywriting and content
  • Website design and development
  • Marketing

Let’s have a closer look at how each element fits into the website puzzle.

Branding

Your brand identity goes beyond your logo, brand colours and font. It’s everything you want your brand to communicate: your values, purpose, mission and key messages.

If you’re tempted to skip this step, don’t. Knowing exactly what you stand for and what you want to say will help you focus your decision-making and craft content that’ll connect with your ideal customers.

If you’re not clear on your business’ purpose, who it serves, and why, then speaking with a business coach can help you distil your ideas into a clear message.

Photography

A stunning website needs gorgeous photography. While stock photography has its place, to really build trust and show who you are it’s important to have on-brand photography.

If you’re a service-based business (and especially if you’re a solo biz owner) then having your face on your website shows potential clients who they’ll be working with. For product-based businesses, photos that show your items in use help customers visualise your products in their life.

If you haven’t had brand photos done before, it can feel overwhelming. But don’t let that stop you. Before you book in with a photographer, read my post on how I prepared for my brand photoshoot.

Copywriting

Your website doesn’t just need to look good. It also needs to clearly and succinctly communicate what you do.

Make sure that you are writing to your target client. Cut the long, verbose sentences and use easy-to-understand language. Tell a story and take your audience on a journey through your website.

Don’t underestimate this step. Writing your own content will take time and it might necessitate a few drafts to get it where you want it.

If you’d rather not write your own content, a professional copywriter can help. They’ll be able to pull all your ideas and thoughts together and write compelling copy that’s also optimised for SEO.

Website design and development

This is where we actually get to put pixels to (virtual) paper. As a small business web designer, I’ll pull together your branding, photography and content to create a cohesive, structured website.

By putting in the groundwork before this stage, you’ll find your actual website design happens much faster. And it’ll be so exciting to see it all come together to match your vision.

Marketing

Your website project doesn’t end once you’ve launched. In fact, this is just the beginning. Your website strategy plan should include how (and where) you’ll market your website once it’s launched.

Consider which platforms your ideal client is active on and the type of content you’ll share with them. And if you need help, a marketing strategist can help you create a plan to promote your business.

Creating a website design project plan

Sure, it sounds like there’s a lot involved in designing your website. But it doesn’t take much to get started.

  1. Consider your business goals and the purpose of your website.
  2. Decide who you’ll get to help you and create a (realistic) budget for each stage.
  3. Contact your preferred providers. Remember, people can get booked up weeks or months in advance so the earlier you flag your project with them, the better.

And remember, you’ll also need to be prepared to dedicate time and resources to keep things on track. Schedule time in your calendar to continually work on your project and move things forward.

A good plan will save you time down the track; time that could be better spent sipping cocktails poolside.

To help you plan things out, I’ve created a Website Workbook. This workbook includes a list of questions to ask your photographer, designer and copywriter, as well as helping you through each step of the website planning process.

It costs just A$49 and is designed to save you time.