For many businesses we work with, their website represents their business online. It is the first impression a customer has of the company and the people within it, and it’s the first place they are able to judge the quality of their products or services.

Whether you’re using your website to generate leads, or you’re selling products, the performance of your website can have a huge impact on the growth of your business. If you think your website is no longer fit for purpose and needs to be replaced, or maybe you are using 2022 to start a new business and are looking to build a completely new website, we thought we would talk you through the planning process we follow when building websites.

When we first meet clients, the general conception is that when creating a website, our main focus will be on its look and feel. While design is a very important part of the process, that alone will not impact on your business. Website design is actually stage two of a three stage process. The first stage is planning, the second is design and the third stage is the build. In this blog, we are going to look solely at the planning stage.

In a nutshell, the four stages of PLANNING a website are:

  • The structure.
  • The conversion route.
  • SEO planning.
  • Content planning.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these planning stages…

  1. Website structure

Nailing your website structure means that when users visit your site, they will find the information that they need really easily and ultimately, you’ll make conversions. Plus, Google will love your site from an SEO perspective. Alternatively, a poorly structured site will make navigating around your website confusing and therefore, you’ll lose visitors and search traffic. Our goal at this website structure planning stage is to work out all the different pages you will need on your website, their order and their hierarchy. What website pages will be top level pages and what pages will be sub pages etc. Sometimes this is straightforward, but sometimes it is a little more complex depending on your business and the products/services it offers.

  1. Conversion path

If you are selling products to people through ecommerce, your conversion path will be relatively simple (generally, via a standard checkout process). However, here at Make Me Local, we specialise in helping service businesses or companies that are generating leads through their website, so their conversion path often needs a little bit more thought. Namely, we need to decide what sort of call to action you’re going to be using on your website and how to present it on your site (how we will make visitors take the action you want them to take).

The main consideration during the planning stage is, does your call to action (the thing you’re using to incentivise people to become a lead for you) warrant its own page or is it something that can be handled on another page of your website? For example, our website call to action for Make Me Local is to encourage visitors to get in touch with us and we have dedicated a whole page on our site for this. This is because many customers that contact us initially want a quote so they can work out if we are the right company to build their website/enhance its performance, or whether they need to go somewhere else because their budget is completely different. However, in order for us to provide a quote, a little information is required. We need to find out some details about their company, what they are looking to achieve, their budget, and determine whether our services are right for them and their business. There is a lot of information we need to chat through before we can provide a quote, therefore, we feel a dedicated contact page is justified.

  1. SEO

Building your website with search engine optimisation in mind from the start is crucial to ensure your business can be found online and it will save you time later on. Naturally, we will be tweaking and optimising your SEO as we continue through the build process and ideally, after it is live too, to ensure it evolves in line with your business. But, having SEO in mind from the off can prove super beneficial. When we build a website for a client, we will carry out keyword research as a core part of the website planning process.

This allows us to identify the primary and secondary keywords that we want to target for a website and map them to each page on the site. We aim for every single page on a site to have primary, secondary, or even multiple primary and secondary keywords that a page should be targeting before we even think about writing copy for it. This means that when we start writing content for your site, we know what it needs to target, what the headings and subheadings on each page should be etc. Our keyword research will also identify if there are any other pages on the site that need to be added to the structure. If we identify that there is a lot of search volume for a particular topic that isn’t already being catered for withing the site structure already, we can go back and add it in. By the time our keyword research is finished, we will have a range of pages on your site targeting all the different keywords that we want your site to ultimately rank for in search engines results.

Of course, there are other SEO considerations that we will encompass when building a website, but at this stage of the planning process we’re looking to identify the core keywords that we want to target and map them to the different pages on your website, so we know which pages target which phrases. For example, for Make Me Local we know that we want to rank for ‘web design Bromley’ (this is the broadest possible phrase that we want our business to rank for) so the main page we would be targeting with this keyword is the homepage. We also know that we want to rank for phrases like ‘social media’ and SEO’ and we know that they are best served by the specific pages on our site about these topics.

  1. Content planning

Once we’ve got the website structure and pages decided, we’ve got the conversion goals and how we’re going to present them on the site decided, and we’ve got the target keywords and mapped them to the planned pages of the site, it’s time to plan website content.

When we write content for clients, we tend to map out what we are going to write about. The target keywords on each page help us to write the main headings, meta descriptions, and button descriptions etc, and they also help us write the subheadings (H2’s) that will sign post the content we are writing on a page. For example, on our web page about social media, we know that we want to target keywords like ‘platforms’ and ‘social marketing’. We tend to use these to create subheadings down the page and flesh them out with content afterwards. Typically, we write content in a word document to keep us focused on the content we’re writing and away from design. It’s important be aware that you are designing for a web page and that you will have a limit on your audience’s attention span etc, but at this stage it is important to get the keywords and content nailed.

Only after we’ve completed all these planning stages will we even consider whipping out the mood boards and consider look and feel! If we go headfirst into the design, we miss all of the intent, conversion, SEO, navigation and user journey elements that are crucial to building successful websites.

Still not sure if you need a new website or not? Give us a call and we’ll happily chat things through.