How to Plan a Website Project by Patrick Beckerton
Knowing what you want to do
The best question heard in the realm of web development is, “can this be done?” The simple answer is yes – usually, most things can be built into a website. The hard part is figuring out how to do it, and how long it will take. With that in mind, it’s usually better to worry more about what you want, as opposed to worrying about what may or may not be possible.
When starting to plan your web project, give appropriate time to thinking about what you want to do. Are you looking to sell online? Do you need a website that will convince people to call your office? Are you simply promoting your services or industry on your site? And of all these things, why aren’t you doing them already?
These questions are the first steps in developing your website plan.
Understanding what’s wrong with your site
If you don’t have a website, this problem is pretty self-evident – you need to get online. But even in this case, think about why. Obviously, if you’re not online and you want to be, there’s something missing that you believe a website will help. Give some thought to what you’re missing, and why you think it will be necessary to add it in the future.
On the flip side, if you have a website, but are looking at changes, it’s even more important to understand the issues before moving forward on a web development plan. Questions that you should be asking yourself include the age of the site, what the original goals were, and why you believe the site isn’t meeting these needs any longer.
If your site is too old and is obsolete in today’s technology, then it’s a simple decision to upgrade. But if you don’t understand the original goals, or can’t identify what is dissatisfying about your current web results, then the process of defining a new web solution can be difficult, costly, and wasteful.
Knowing what you want to change
Knowing what’s wrong and knowing what you want to change aren’t necessarily the same thing. What is really important at this point is to understand and identify the missing pieces or your current web strategy.
Do you want a website that responds to screen sizes (so it’s easy to view on mobile phones and tablets)? Are you planning on selling products online, and need to add a shopping cart? Is your site no longer in line with your current brand? There are a million different things you can add to a website project. The trick is limiting that down to features that will help you reach your business goals.
The easiest way to think about the future is to look at the past. If you could go back in time and start over with your website, what would you do differently? Are there pieces you would have added? Are there pages you wouldn’t include?
No matter what, the biggest question that you’ll need to consider is this – given all of these items I would change, will any of them actually help me reach my business goals?
Having a goal for your new site
Once you have an idea of the current issues it’s important to consider the direction and plan for the new site. A website that has no specific goals is simply just an expensive business card, and isn’t likely to help your business in any significant fashion.
Every website needs a purpose – what business, personal or combination goal are you trying to accomplish through the use of a website? The clearer the goal, the easier it will be to develop a strategy. More than that, with clear goals, it will be far simpler to measure and track progress and success along the way.
The worst situation is one in which you invest a lot of time and money, but simply haven’t addressed the main issues. Ultimately, before spending time, effort and dollars, ask yourself what is lacking in your current mix, and how you feel a new website, or new website tools would help. If you’re unable to come up with an answer, or even have a hard time understanding how to quantify your results, then you’ll likely want to dig deeper into your business needs and goals.
Taking steps to change
So, now we have a good idea about the basics of your company and what you’re looking to do with a website. While it’s not necessary to have all of the previous questions answered completely, it is important to have considered them and formulated an opinion. Remember, this is your website, and your opinion is going to matter.
With the basics covered, you’ll need to take a look at more in-depth discussions in regards to the project.