How to Plan a Website You can be Proud of
For anyone looking to create an effective and attractive website, proper planning is essential as it can save large amounts of time and reduce complications in the future. By organizing your website on paper prior to implementation, you gain a more complete, big-picture view of the website, which can reveal insights that would only otherwise come too late.
An effective website plan should encompass a large range of different topics from audience, organization, and even colour scheme. Because the goal is to create the most ideal website for your needs, at this stage you shouldn't concern yourself too much with the details of implementation.
Defining the Purpose
Because of the vast amount of functions that websites can serve, the first step in any planning procedure should be to write down a specific purpose for your website. This will help remove any uncertainties about the website's goals and give a foundation for all future planning. Because there are a vast variety of websites, from personal blogs and freelancer portfolios to online shops, this written purpose will be highly variable from website to website.
After defining the purpose of your website, understanding the audience is essential. This will provide an understanding of how to organize and create all website content. For a personal professional website, creating content based upon prior achievements and projects will cater to prospective clients or employers much more than talking about the crazy antics of the neighbor’s cat. While this may be an extreme example, it is always essential to keep all content, colour scheme and organization lined up with the website's purpose and audience.
Website Organization and Hierarchy
One of the most overlooked aspects of web design is website organization. When planning out a website, it is essential to create navigation that is intuitive in order to allow the end-user to access what they need as quickly and easily as possible; this is especially important for online businesses. Because of this, using a standard blog-style CMS organization is not suggested, unless of course you are creating a blog.
Website organization always starts with the home page and should cater to the audience and purpose of your website. A good way to design a clean and intuitive home-page is to ask, "What do the visitors want from my site?" This will help give an idea of how to organize the home page links and content to provide the most value. However, be sure to keep the home-page free from clutter in order to avoid overwhelming the visitor with options. A simple flow chart can be a great help when planning out website structure.
Colour Scheme and Layout
Choosing an aesthetically pleasing and fitting colour scheme for your website is essential to success. Almost always, professionally oriented sites should use more mild colours, such as: grey, white, black, beige, dark greens and blues. In this area, blogs and fan-sites have much more room for freedom. As always, the colour scheme should fit the audience you are trying to attract. The design of the website is equally important, there are a variety of templates that you can use and modify for your purposes, if willing, your can even create, or hire someone to create, your own.
By taking all of these steps into account, you will have a much more holistic understanding of the website and how to reach your goals. This plan will serve as a road map to creating an effective and profitable website.