Planning your site can be the most important step you do. This article will give you tips and suggestions to use when planning your site. It is part of our Starting a Website series.
Websites today have a lot of competition. In order to stand out and get followers, subscribers, users or good rankings, you really need to plan well. Here are some tips to help you:
Tip 1 – Spreadsheets for Clarity
Create a spreadsheet with your favorite program or app. We prefer to use the free LibreOffice program.
You can have different tabs in your sheet. One for Competition, Features, Costs, Software, Hosting, and Maintenance to start with. Later on, you might want to add one for Marketing or you could add it now. In each of these tabs, you’ll keep track of everything you should need to get your site off the ground.
Tip 2 – Research, Research, Research
You need to know your competition. Research sites similar to your niche. See what people like and what they don’t like on those sites (you’ll find that people will be vocal about what they don’t like). Sign up for these sites and make notes of things that work well, don’t work, are annoying or confusing, etc.
You need to research everything for those tabs on your spreadsheet. Make sure to keep good records with links to sites, search engine searches, ticket numbers if you are contacting any scripts or hosts, and any details you might need later.
Tip 3 – Know Your Target Market
When planning, you need to know your niche. You need to know the target market for your site. You’ll want to have relevant content on the site before you take it live. Plan to write articles, post photos or videos, get interviews done if needed – or hire someone such as BryZar to do those.
If you don’t have the right content for your target market, they won’t have a reason to come back. First impressions are the most important ones.
Tip 4 – Get your ducks in a row
Plan for your opening day. These are some of the things you should have set up in advance (once you have a domain name and hosting):
- Social media site accounts or pages. Make sure you have the artwork for the banners or logos and avatars for the social sites. Note that the dimensions are different on most of them so you’ll need a few different sizes of each one.
- Payment gateways.
- Site email address (we use either Google or Zoho) so that you have an email such as [email protected] rather than [email protected]. It just looks more professional.
- Mail delivery service (such as Sendgrid, Sparkpost, Amazon SES, Mailgun, Pepipost, etc.).
- Search engine webmaster tools (for those that offer them).
- Antispam accounts such as reCAPTCHA, Stopforumspam, etc. as most scripts offer settings or plugins to use these sort of services.
- Advertising accounts such as Bing, Google, even Facebook has some good pricing these days. You’ll want to do thorough research before buying ads anyplace though.
- Site tutorials. If you will have users on your website, make sure you have tutorials so they know how to use it.
- Easy sharing with Buffer. This nifty tool is something we’ve used for years and will help you share to multiple social sites, track views, schedule posts, etc. and it’s free.
- Many of the tips above have tutorials at our sister site ScriptTechs.
We have other articles that will help you with your website set up. You might want to print out each tutorial and use them as a checklist when planning and setting up your website.