PlanningIf you are still in the planning process or are just starting to put ideas together then you may find some of our hints and tips useful or click here to use our questionnaire
What to include
Can you answer the following questions?
Creating a blue print of the site will help you: -
Plan for future growthIt's better to start small and basic and increase content rather than aim too high and not achieve your goals or end up with something confusing and cluttered.
You must remember that not everyone has a high-speed connection so too much is not always best.
Sharing your ideas on paper with others is a good way to receive feedback, and find out what does and doesn't work before the site goes live.
1. What is the site about?
Start off by gathering as much information as possible on the products and/or services you will be featuring on the site.
Divide the information into pages
How do you expect visitors to move around the site?
Do you want all pages to point back to the home page?
You could investigate your competitor's sites or other similar sites to see what they offer?
Look for something they don't offer, haven't covered or that is unique to your business that you can include on your site to differentiate yourself from the competition.
What do you like and dislike about their sites?
2. What are the key elements to be included?
Aims and ambitions of the company
Where to find us
Service and product details
What do you want your site to look like? What will be the background or main colours featured? What about the layout? Where will the navigation buttons be? Where will you have your logo? What type of font do you want used and will their be images?
Look, feel, structure and functionality. The visual appearance of your site should be directly related to your predicted visitors. If you are trying to appeal to professional people then flash colours and spinning imagines may not be appropriate.
Ensure the feel and structure appeal to your target audience.
Does your company already have a corporate identity or logo? Existing material you already have in circulation i.e. brochures and literature that you wish your site to mirror.
3. What are your goals and expectations for the site?
Shop front: Turn visitors into customers either by purchasing online or direct them via phone or fax ordering.
Support: To answer frequently asked questions via your site to cut down on phone calls to your support centre?
24/7 Information point: Update customers on services i.e. special offers, opening times, directions to your establishment or venue?
Advert: Put yourself on the map and ensure local/national customers know about your products and services.
4. Who do you want to visit?
Target audience - who is your site and services aimed at?
Draw up a list of who you want your visitors to be.
Think about what each visitor will be looking for when they visit your site.
Key words Think about key words. What key words will visitors type into search engines to get to your site?
Type these words in and see what results you get.
You will need to feature these key words on your home page and highlight them to your design team to ensure they are set as META tags to be picked up by Internet spiders that will automatically search your site.
Web statistics may be available with your hosting package.
Web statistics will tell you how many visitors you receive on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis.
What the most popular time of day for visitors is, the most popular pages, where visitors enter and exit your site.
For Internet advertising purposes it will also tell you where you visitors are coming from i.e. which search engine is working well for you.
5. Why should they visit your site?
Can visitors order a catalogue on line?
View products and services?
Get vital information out of hours?
Sign up for news updates/newsletters?
Give feed back on services received?
Discover contact details or email questions?
Depending on the way you work this may be the last stage or the first stage. So either start with a blank page or armed with all your text and images, colours, layout and logos and plan what goes where.
Map out your pages
What navigation buttons will you have? What will your pages be called and how will visitors enter, navigate and leave your site.
Suggestion for pages in alphabetical order.
Company history - How you began, how the company has progressed, grown and improved, profile, experience or key messages. Again this could be split into several pages.
Contact us - get in touch page. List telephone and fax numbers, email address, postal address, opening hours, other office addresses, and out of hours contacts if appropriate. Link to website and company terms and conditions and complaint procedures.
Customer account - customer area, profile or administration section. Allows a customer to view orders and track purchases online, update details held on file and add options to their profile.
Events - Next meeting of the committee, annual conference or away day or a new venue you will be appearing.
Feedback - you may wish to offer visitors a change to comment on your site, services and give opinions.
Home - Main page all about you. Should give a synopsis of who you are and/or a brief description of the services or products on offer.
Links - useful links to complementary sites, search engines or clients sites.
News - Company news, relevant industry news or local news depending on your site. This can be a useful page BUT only if the site content is kept up to date. News relating back to 2002 is not current.
Portfolio - Examples of your work, services or products in action. Include customer recommendations or links to customer's sites to enable potential customers to view your previous work.
Prices - price list or idea of approximate charges involved in packaged or services.
Profile - How you work. Possibly include information on key personnel or the team. In some industries the people your customers will be working with is the key to them choosing your service.
Qualifications. What reassurances can you offer the customer? Links to organisations you are a member of, accreditations you have or certificates you have earned to show your level or experience.
Recruitment - List career opportunities on line.
Search. Search the site or search the whole web. Allows a visitor to look for information that they cannot obviously see. Look through archives of information they may have missed i.e. old newsletters.
Services/Product pages - what you do. This could be a single or multiple pages depending on what you are offering. How many products and services you have or pages or brands.
Support - Assistance on line. This could be Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) or details of your return or refund policies. It could be links to store details, how to find your local store or how to order on line.
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