Where do I begin to plan my website?
This is the second in a series of blogs that aims to help you plan and build a website. There's a lot to think about and consider and in the first blog, Building a Website we covered:
However daunting the prospect may be, always remember that a website doesn't have to be complete when it goes live. Extra pages can alway be added later (and consider how easy this is to do when you decide 'What Website Builder Should I Use?') but remember, plan and structure the website accordingly.
Plan your website's navigation
This sounds easy enough but a site with more than 5 pages, can get complicated. Always keep the visitor in mind. Make it easy for them to find what they need and avoid too many generic titles.
In your navigation bar, try to limit your main items to 5 preferably and only add more if absolutely necessary. The fewer in that space, the better, since you can direct focus and your visitor is less likely to miss key signage. Also keep the navigation where it's most usual i.e. horizontally or vertically down the left hand side. Don't attempt to be clever with the design because again, your visitor could potentially miss your direction, get bored of looking and leave.
Fewer items in the navigation also increases the page authority for your home page (good for SEO) and this feeds through to the pages that lead from it. Make the items descriptive and short.
Dropdowns - yes or no?
For the average website, we recommend you don't use them. They can be frustrating and prevent the visitor from perhaps going to the top level pages you want them to read. With usability being a big issue, we advise only using dropdowns if done well, with good spacing and clear delineation.
Rocketspark has recently added dropdown functionality to its platform and we love it! They also offer eCommerce customers a mega menu for an optional fee which works amazingly well if you have various product ranges and categories. This blog, 'Dropdown menus—help your website viewers find what they’re looking for' goes into more detail.
Home page structure
Sit with a blank piece of paper and visualise yourself as the website visitor. Become your customer and jot down everything you, as a visitor would want to see on the home page. This may mean that you need at this point, to firmly establish who your target audience is and how many profile types you need to appeal to.
Once you have a list of the elements you want to see, consider how you're going to make it easy for information to be found.
A website is ultimately trying to sell something, be it a product, a service, or rapport. Your home page has to provide all the elements to bring that sale to its conclusion as quickly as possible.
Back to the list - ensure you've covered the aspects that are unique to your industry/field:
- Blurb - have you told your visitor what you do/offer?
- Buttons - have you included at least 2 calls to action?
- Extra imagery - what subtle images - background or otherwise will be displayed as the visitor scrolls down?
- Testimonials - can you add a few endorsements to support your blurb?
- USP - is there a product/service you can showcase that makes you stand out from the crowd?
- Signposting - prioritise what you need the naked eye to focus on and provide enough white space around it to steer your visitor.
Compare what other websites look like
Successful websites all have one thing in common. They don't just look good, they feel good. Sounds a bit ridiculous? Well yes, but we can all relate (or not) to a website. When you visit the classy car site or beautifully easy to use shopping website, you feel good about it and will remember to refer back to it or place it in your bookmarks.
We recommend that you look at what others are doing as well. Note down what you liked about the site experience and why.
But this is the important bit:
Keep in mind the personas (or buyers' profiles) that you've already established. Ask around and research what that profile type would like to see on a website. Without that intel, you could be missing a trick.
Wireframe the home page
Something we always undertake at Digital Doctor is wireframing. Map out a home page, decide the location of all the elements you've listed out and be quite ruthless if you think you've added too much initially. Go back to the beginning and decide how you're going to make it easy for your website visitor to find what they need.
Once you have a home page mapped out, sleep on it and refine the next day. You'll then have a clear idea of the direction the website is taking and be able to plan out subsequent pages. Make sure you're 100% comfortable with the home page and keep UX at the forefront of this planning stage - it will pay dividends later.
I'm ready to build the website - now what?
You're now ready to begin the build process having planned and structured your website.
Read our final blog, 'What Website Builder Should I use?' to discover some of the features we think you should consider when making your choice.
Interested to find out what we can do for you?
If you're interested in building your own Rocketspark website or would like some help from us, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. We can offer tips, guidance or quote you to build a website from a starting price of £650 + VAT for a brochure site.
We looking forward to hearing from you!