Website Tip #2: Plan your site.

We’ve always used the analogy that building a website is like building a home. Imagine that you’ve just purchased ten acres of beautiful land, and you hire the best builder in the area to construct your home. You drive the builder out to your land and point to a spot and say, “Build the house here.” To which the builder replies, “What kind of home do you want?” Now imagine that you say, “I’m not sure, but I’ll know it when I see it.”

Surprisingly, we’ve had some clients that have come pretty close to saying those exact words to us, regarding the construction of their website. So if you’re not sure of where to start, let us offer five tips (which may or may not also apply to home construction).

1. Decide what the main objective(s) of your site are. Is it a membership site? E-commerce site? Informative/interactive site? Blog?

2. Decide how many pages your site is going to have and develop some content for them. It’s okay to change this later (and it probably will), but having an idea of the type of content helps when constructing the layout of your site.

3. Create a list of websites that you like. Note what you like about them. Is it the layout, features, color scheme?

4. Sketch a draft of your site. This would show where you want the header images, navigation, content, widgets and other areas of your site placed. (Hint: it’s okay to involve the web designer at this point).

5. Be flexible. You may want every widget, gadget and calculator on your front page, and it may work for you. However, be flexible if your designer points out alternatives that will make it easier for the web surfer to navigate your site.

If you follow some of these basic tips, you’ll go a long way to creating the awesome site that’s in your head. “I’ll know it when I see it…” is okay, but “I know it because I planned it…” is a much better way to go.

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