7 Simple Steps to Get Ready for Your Next Website

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Over the past 10 years, Summit Design Studio has built hundreds of websites for businesses of all kinds in Central PA. When first chatting with prospective clients or during kickoff meetings we get asked, “So how long will this take?” My reply is always “Depends on how organized and motivated you are.”

What I mean is that our web shop has the team and organized process in place to build websites rapidly, but most of our projects (and projects for most web designers are very similar) get delayed because clients neglect to account for the time and energy required on their part to organize, create, polish, and deliver the content we need to build a great website for them.

This is the “garbage in, garbage out” situation…if we don’t have great good photos and great content and you don’t have a clue what you really want we will just be wrapping a pretty design around junk. This may seem harsh, but it is the truth and therefore in this post I hope to discuss some steps you can use to plan for your next website. When you do hire a website designer you will feel ready and prepared and your designer will love you for how organized you are. Seriously, they may hug you so be careful.

Step 1: Define Your Goals for the Website

Bad Examples

  • Sell more stuff

  • Make more money

  • Sell online

Good Examples

  • Increase traffic to our site by 200% by end of 12 months while creating 10 leads and 2 a month via our website

  • Establish our company as the leading real estate company in our area while creating the fastest and most convenient MLS search tools.

Step 2: Define What you Want the User to Do

  • Request a Quote

  • Donate to our Organization

  • View our Portfolio

  • Request an Appointment

  • Download a Guide

Step 3: Build a Sitemap

Here is a free tool for creating a sitemap but it is just as easy to make in outline in Word or Google Docs.  Here is an example for a sitemap outline for a service based company.

  • Home

  • About

    • Meet the Team

    • History

  • Services

  • Recent Projects

  • Blog

  • Contact Us

    • FAQ

    • Directions

Step 4: Tell the story of each of your pages

It’s not good enough to just to list the pages. Your web development company will want to know what you need the page to have in terms of content, what it should do, and where you plan to get that content from. So here is an example of what I mean for a Recent Projects page.

EXAMPLE: “This page will show examples of our work. We would like a 3 or 4 column layout that includes the title of the project, multiple photos, project description, and a testimonial from the client. The main recent projects page should show a summary of projects (photo thumbnail, title, description intro) and when a user clicks on the project they can then get more details on the detail page for each project.”


Step 5: Gather Content

You have defined your recent projects page above but you need the content to put on the page.  Get organized! Make a folder on your computer called “Website Project.“ In that folder make a folder called “Recent Projects.” (Note you should make a folder for each page in your sitemap too.)  Now gather all the images and organize them by project and put them in a folder with a title that matches the project title. Then create a document that lists the projects by title and includes the client testimonials and project descriptions. Put that file in the root of the Recent Projects folder.

Here is a screenshot showing how you can organize your folders.

How to Organize Your Content

Step 6: Review your content

This is the time for you to pretend to be your site visitor. Ask yourself some of these questions when critiquing your pages and content.

  • Do I have too much copy?

  • Is the copy broken up so it is easily read?

  • Is this page truly useful or is a page with 1 paragraph of fluff and should just be nuked?

  • Is it clear what I want the user to know or do on this page?

    • If not, create a call to action or make it clearer?

  • Is my home page optimized to direct people to where they should go?

  • In 2 seconds can a user easily know

    • Who we are?

    • What we do?

    • Why we are special?

Step 7: Deliver all your content to your web developer

Now that you have taken the time to flesh out the goals of your site, made a sitemap, and gathered all your content you are ready to hit the ground running. Good luck!

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