About to plan out your new website? Great stuff, you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to be running through a couple of ideas of what we, here at Strafe Creative, take into account when we’re planning a new website.
If we know some of this new information upfront and you’ve already thought it through, hopefully we’re onto a winner. And you’ll also start to understand why we approach things in the way that we do when it comes to planning a new website.
What is your website’s main purpose?
So, what do you want a user to do when they land on your website? A lot of people fall into the trap of is using terminology such as:
“Oh, well, we just want them to contact us.”
This really isn’t detailed enough for what we want the end goal for the user to be, and this comes back to planning out what the sales team are going to do afterwards too. For example, “Our sales team likes to call already knowing a little about someone so they’re prepared”.
If we just leave it as something generic like, “Get in touch”, that is very, very open. What we would also push our clients to decide on is exactly how we want them to get in touch.
Do we want them to:
- Pick up the phone?
- Fill in a form?
- Send an email?
- Request a particular thing to be given something?
- Pay for something?
Obviously, an e-commerce store is much simpler; the purpose of their website is for the users to buy products. But what we need to do when planning a new website is to make sure that we’re really thinking through what the end goal is. Because if we’re designing for them to pick up the phone, we would design the site very differently to if we’re pushing them to fill in a form. Having a really clear understanding of what we want the user to do is absolutely paramount.
There is likely to be a few people reading this thinking:
“Well, actually we don’t need them to fill in a particular thing, we just need to look really credible and really, really important because most of the time we’ll be going in for tendering.”
And that is fine. That can still be your purpose. Your purpose can just be to look as credible as possible. But here at Strafe Creative, we believe it shouldn’t just be a brochure and that there should always be an end goal. Ok, first one down, let’s crack on with the rest!
What would the sub purpose be?
The reason we have a sub purpose, as well as a main purpose of the site is that although people might be interested in buying, they might not quite be ready for some reason. If I use the example of a shoe shop, the main purpose of that website is for the user to come onto the website to buy shoes. But they might be waiting for payday, they might not be quite 100% sure of the design, they might be looking around for pricing, etc, etc.
So there are 101 reasons why they’re not going to buy there and then, or do whatever the main purpose of the website is. And that’s where the sub purpose comes in. That’s why the sub purpose is so important because it’s a way of a user potentially identifying themselves as interested, but not necessarily ready to do the thing that we want them to do.
This might be as simple as wanting them to download our white paper, or we want them to fill in a particular form for a set piece of information, or watch a demo.
Or an example for an e-commerce store, it might be for them to sign up for a 10% voucher or for some free shipping to use at a later date. But the main aim is for a potential customer to identify themselves and if that means they don’t perform the main purpose of the website, that’s ok as we have the sub purpose to fall back on.
There’s no issue with these website sub purposes being quite soft either, so an idea might be:
“Well, we’d love for them to start following us on our social media instead. If they’re not going to commit to getting in touch with us now, at least they can be involved in our community in that sort of manner.”
So, you can see there’s a wealth of options, but really thinking through what these are going to be is critical, and this is often an element which is missed when it comes to planning a new website.
Who is your ideal client?
Who your ideal client is, especially from a web point of view, is crucial to planning – really knowing who is going to be visiting your new website is going to make life a lot easier. So, gaining an understanding of their:
- Age group,
- How technological these people are,
- What their wants and likes are, is going to be crucial too.
If you want to go into huge detail, we can start to think about:
- Their gender
- What potential role this person is going to have
- Are they going to be an owner of the business?
- Are they going to be a director, or are they going to be someone quite small in the business?
- Is this an HR person that’s going to buy?
Really thinking through all these levels allows you to go into huge detail as well as the kind of persona of this person is going to have. So, things like:
- The car they’re currently driving
- Which brands of clothing they own
- Their ambitions
- and finally, their dislikes.
Trying to plan this out will be super important.
Continuing with the example of selling shoes, you would sell a shoe very differently to the head of an athletics department or sports therapist than you would to Joe Bloggs on the street. They’re going to have different needs and desires as well as objections, so knowing who these people are when planning a new website will allow us to design for those exact people.
Also, notice the start of this section is referenced “IDEAL” client. Not your average client. You are going to have a huge plethora of people who are going to buy from you and you don’t necessarily want to alienate away from them, but who is the ideal person? If we can hit the nail on the head with the new website for those people, that’s where we start to see even more profit for our clients.
What are your competitors doing?
This sounds obvious but many people skip this step. Hopefully, with some context to how this can help with your new website planning, you’ll want to do more investigating.
One of the main steps is to research the words or terms you’d anticipate to be found for in search engine results. Your competitors might be using slightly different terminology to yourself, so it’s worth being 100% sure on this.
- Are they using different terms overall to you?
- How are they grouping their services?
- How are they grouping their products?
- What sort of terminology are they using?
- What type of imagery are they using?
- Which overall tone of messaging are they using?
Now, this works really well in two ways;
You might be inspired by a couple of things that these guys are doing and think, “We’ve not thought of that. That’s a really, really good idea. Let’s add that in ourselves!”
And then the second one is around looking for holes in their offerings that you know are really important, which allows you to better differentiate yourself from them.
Who do you aspire to be?
For this section, these don’t have to be competitors – they might be in a slightly different field, well-known everyday companies you love or they might be a really, really well known in your field and therefore you don’t necessarily see them as a competitor at the moment as they’re so big.
But it’s really important to look at what they’re doing. And this isn’t just from a messaging point of view like we did with competitors. There might be some stylistic choices or some clever things that they’re doing on their websites that you’ve not considered before. For example:
- Have they introduced members areas to create a community that you’ve not necessarily thought about before?
- Do they have a large social media that they could push into the site that would really, really help?
- Are they showcasing a lot of the photography behind the scenes?
So looking at and making a list of companies that you aspire to be can be super beneficial. Especially if you then want to come to a web design agency for planning a new website. The fact that you’ve got all this information along with a list of your competitors and your aspirations will make their life a lot easier.
How do you send traffic to your website?
This next one can easily be overlooked when planning your new website, but if you’re planning on sending mainly pay-per-click advertising (PPC) to your website, you would design this very differently when compared to aiming your website after search engines traffic. Again, you might also design the site very differently if most of it is going to be coming through from social media, as we would be pushing them to internal pages rather than the homepage, which means we might need to get across different messaging. (Lots to think about!)
Having an understanding of what your marketing is going to be, or has been in the past, is going to be hugely beneficial when you start to get a web agency involved because they can get into that same mentally of: “Right. Well, we’re not necessarily sending them to the homepage. We’re going to send to this area instead, and they’ll probably have the context of X and Y too.”
If you have any of your past marketing in reports, I’d be sure to collate these too, so these can be passed to the web agency. Anything like this can only help when planning your new website.
Which CMS (Content management system) should you use?
There are lots of different content management systems out there and it completely depends on what you are going to be doing on that site that will dictate the choice of CMS. Most seem to consider WordPress or Craft CMS, but depending on the complexities, they might be better with a more bespoke option for example.
Or if you’re going down the e-commerce route, depending on the size of the site and the number of the products, do you need to start looking at Magento or Shopify? Or would something like Woocommerce be ok? These are all content management systems but all work in different ways, and because of this, all have pros and cons associated with them.
Now, you’re welcome to leave this to an agency to decide and they’ll be able to recommend the best option based on your requirements, but for us here at Strafe Creative the more understanding our clients have, the better their project runs.
Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with you having a little look at these different content management systems to get an understanding of how you think you could use them. Especially from an administrative point of view, as some of these options are going to be really complex.
For example, Magento is the daddy of all e-commerce but is very complex in the backend because it’s designed for large scale product ranges with a couple of thousand products and lots going on. So, actually, if you’re only selling a small number of products, Magento is probably not the right choice for you, and that’s fine. If you can start to identify that early, that’s a really good thing. Just don’t worry too much if you start to look into this and it doesn’t mean anything. A good web agency will be able to guide you through this part of the website planning stage.
What are the five year goals of the business?
This might seem like we’re jumping the gun here but knowing where your company is going is critical to the success of a website. Such decisions like if you’re going to be in multiple countries, and, therefore, need the website to be available in multiple languages, or it might be that you’re wanting to introduce multiple services in the future. If we’re designing the website for this very moment with only one service, but within five years, you’re going to have five services, we need to take that into account with how the website is going to be designed. So make sure you’re thinking about some of those things now so that you’re not having to go back to the web agency later on just to get those added in.
If they can take that into account, most really good agencies (taking this example of one service to five services) can design and build the website in a way that it still looks great with one service, but it looks even better with five services later on. You should be able to take some of those boundaries into account. It might also be that you’re going to go from 100 products to 1,000 products. And again, the filtration or categorisation of those products needs to be taken into account now so that the website can grow really easily with you, and you don’t have any problems later on.
What would success be?
Now, this is actually my favourite question and it’s really nice for you guys to have a think about too. What success would be? (From a new website point of view of course.)
Continuing our theme of the shoe company website, they decide success would be:
- Sales moving from 100 pairs of shoes a week to 2000 pairs of shoes a week.
Now, if you can start to really think about what success is going to be, it makes it so much easier to make a plan on how to get there. In this example above, yes, we could create a super high converting website but we’re still going to need a large amount of traffic to hit 2000 shoes per week, so have we considered that?
Sometimes success doesn’t need to be tangible, but it might be that: “We start to attract better candidates to come work with us“, or, ” We want to increase the size of the client that’s wanting to work with us.” But really knowing what success will be determined as, will help shape what some of these other answers are above.
Summary – Planning a new website
So, really make sure you’re starting to think about all these things that we’ve discussed in this post here. If you can start to nail these down, you can go to the web agency with these options. This is going to speed up the initial discovery stage massively.
There are hundreds of other things that we could start discussing as well, such as, “Okay, we need to start considering the site maps and number of pages and other elements like that.” Personally, this is where if you can give all that information above to the web agency, they can start to figure out what you need based on your requirements. That’s planning a new website 101 sorted!
Hopefully that’s useful. Enjoy!
Ps. If you’d like to get Strafe Creative involved in your next project, why not use out PROJECT PLANNER and Ross (the Author of this post) will get in touch.