How to Plan a Website?

Discover key strategies for effective website planning, from setting objectives to engaging layouts and content strategy.

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Marketing brings visitors to your website. Clicks could come from different platforms or other sites. People may hear of your website on social media or find it through search engines. But no matter how they end up there, your job is to keep them. 

Information architecture is a crucial part of UX/UI design other than user-friendly design. So, how you plan and layout your web pages will determine whether visitors will stay or go. Crucial steps for planning a website are:

Creating Site Objectives

Site objectives guide the development of your site. You need to know why you’re making your site and for whom. Set your goals and decide how you want to achieve them.

Identifying Your Audience

Who’s your audience? What are their interests, age range, and online behaviors? Cater to their interests and needs. If your audience speaks different languages you may need a multilingual website.

Defining Your Purpose

Each website has a goal: selling products, providing information, or building a community. Your objectives should be specific and clear. Rather than a broad goal like “sell more products,” aim for something more tangible like “increase product sales by 20% in the next six months.”

Aligning with Business or Personal Goals

Your website is not isolated; it must align with your broader business or personal goals. Think about your long-term vision and the immediate needs of your business. This way, you’ll set objectives that are both aspirational and achievable.

Setting Measurable Objectives

The best objectives are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. 

Analyzing Sites of Competitors

Understanding the competitors isn’t about copying what they do; it’s about learning from their successes and mistakes to do a better job. If they have constructed a website with one of the web builders, finding which one was used might be helpful.

Pay attention to the design and user experience. How are they laid out? What makes navigation easy or difficult? This gives you a baseline for user expectations in your industry. 

Then, look at their content strategy. What types of content do they use to engage their audience: blog posts, videos, or infographics?

Check out the unique features and functionalities. It could range from e-commerce capabilities to interactive elements. Such a review helps you decide on features for your site. 

Understand the keywords they rank for to develop an SEO strategy. You have the same audiences. Analyzing the keyword gap will uncover untapped chances to rank.

See how they integrate their social media presence with the website. Are they using social media to drive traffic, or vice versa? Lastly, read through customer feedback and reviews on third-party platforms. You’ll find out what customers value and what their pain points are.

Analyzing competitor websites guides you on what to adopt, what to avoid, and where you can innovate. The goal is to use this information to create a website that meets market standards and offers something new for the customers.

Structuring and Layout

A well-thought-out site hierarchy is the backbone of good website design. Organize content logically so users can easily navigate from general to more specific information. Make it easy for visitors to find what they’re looking for.

Creating Visual Sitemap 

A sitemap shows how all the different pages on your website connect. There are two main types: visual and XML sitemaps. 

XML sitemap is a file that lists all pages of your website in a format that search engines understand. This helps them crawl. An XML sitemap doesn’t structure your site visually but helps search engines index pages.

A visual sitemap is a diagram of your website’s structure. It shows which pages you’ll have and how people will move from one page to another. Using a web builder like Divhunt, you can create a site directly from a sitemap without wireframes or mockups.

Setting Up Information Architecture 

Consider the website as a whole - how all elements come together to create a coherent user experience. Provide meaningful choices to users. Reveal information progressively. Focus on navigation that’s relevant to the user’s context. Information Architecture is about making your website as easy and pleasant as possible. 

Planning a Website Layout

Various website layouts serve different purposes. Grid layouts can be visually exciting and help focus attention on specific elements. Full-screen layouts are ideal for storytelling or presentations. 

Alternating layouts are standard for explaining product features. Card-based layouts have clickable summaries, which are best for product listings or blog posts. Hero layouts use large images with text overlays to make a bold statement.

Ensure that the chosen layout adapts well to various screen sizes. Single-column layouts allow mobile users to scroll through content quickly.

A good layout has an intuitive navigation path for users. It maintains a visual hierarchy, prioritizing the most important elements. Proper use of white space can make your website feel open and uncluttered. 

Keep your layout clear and straightforward. Avoid overloading users with too much information or too many options. Ensure your layout is consistent throughout the website for a cohesive user experience. Design with all users so your website is accessible to people with disabilities.

A great website layout is user-friendly and aligned with the site’s goals and audience. It should guide visitors naturally through the content, emphasizing key elements and providing an enjoyable and efficient browsing experience​​​​​​.

Content strategy

Creating a content strategy involves organizing and effectively delivering your content. You need a great CMS system. You can build one yourself from zero or use web builders that have one.

Identify Your Content Goals

Start by defining what you want to achieve. To bring awareness to your brand. To educate about a field you work in. Compare your product with the competition or drive sales directly. Your goals will guide your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Define Your Audience

Research demographics, audience needs, and preferences. This knowledge will shape the type and tone of the content. 

Audit Existing Content 

If you already have content, review it to identify what’s working and what’s not. It’ll help you understand what to keep, modify, or discard. 

Create a Content Map 

Develop a visual map that shows the structure and hierarchy of your content. It helps plan your layout and understand how different pieces of content relate.

Content Creation

Consistency in tone, style, and messaging is key. Vary the types of content (like blogs, videos, podcasts) to cater to different audiences. Ensure all content provides value, answers your audience’s questions, or solves their problems.

Measure and Adjust

Regularly review your content’s performance. Adjust your strategy based on metrics like page views, engagement, and conversion rates. Remember, a successful content strategy requires time, organization, and creativity​​​​​​.

Branding And Visual Design 

Choose your logo, typography, color palette, graphic elements, and imagery. A logo acts as the face of your brand. Typography adds meaning to your text, and the color palette sets the mood. Graphic elements and imagery should align with your brand personality and values.

Branding is, of course, much more comprehensive than visual design. It’s a separate topic that would be useful to explore. 

Creating a website is more than ticking boxes. It’s best to balance strategy and creativity. Every element, from visuals to text, plays a part in weaving the digital narrative of your brand. It’s a process that transforms a collection of pages into an engaging and memorable online presence.

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