Why you need a Website Planner
By Cherie Gibb – The Barefoot Business Owner.
Building a website can be a daunting activity. But by using a website planner, it can help identify your objectives. Why exactly do you want a website and what do you want the website to do for you and your business. It makes the process a whole lot easier.
When Karen asked me to help her build her website, this is the process we went through to get it up and running. Karen now has a ‘Shop’ on her site, but initially it wasn’t part of the website. The first objective for the Studio fifty-three website was simply to provide a place to go to check-out Studio fifty-three and the workshops.
Lots of people were asking Karen if she had a website. Instead of saying no all the time, we identified the first objective. Simply to get a website up. People could visit and see what workshops were coming up, who the teachers were and find out something about Karen. Purely a credibility exercise.
We didn’t try to make the perfect website. That is an impossible goal. We just aimed to have one that was attractive and provided the information people were looking for!
Remember in Karen’s post when she said most people just don’t start? That quite easily could have been Karen, but we did start and now there is a website.
Websites cost Money
I’ll be upfront, a website is not a cheap investment. So using a website planner is important, especially if you plan to outsource your website build. It will save you time and money.
If you’re thinking that you will build the website yourself to save $$$, consider these three things first:
- Do you know how to build a website? If you do, great. Having a website plan will speed up the building process for you! If you don’t know how to build a website, ask yourself;
- Do you have time and are you willing to learn how? If you do have time and the inclination to learn – fantastic but next ask yourself;
- Is spending time learning how and then building the website myself the very best use of my time as a business owner? The answer to that question, most likely is no.
If building a website isn’t the best use of your time, find a professional to build it for you! And be prepared to spend what is necessary to get the result you need. Just like renting premises for a business, having a great website that brings in new leads and sales to your business, is absolutely essential.
The great thing about Karen is she know’s what she’s good at, what she wants to be good at and getting help isn’t something to be embarrassed about. The reason Karen didn’t already have a website when we had that coffee/wine & cheese, is because it wasn’t part of her skill set. It wasn’t something she really wanted to do! While Karen mightn’t have known where to start once, she had some information and saw the need. She acted on it and got the job done.
Identify the end goal for your website
Every website needs an end goal. If you don’t know what you want visitors to do when they get to your website, they won’t either. If a visitor can’t work it out quickly (think within 3 seconds) they will leave and probably never return.
Your end goal is the ultimate step you want a visitor to take. If you have a bricks and mortar retail shop, your end goal is for the visitor to buy something from you. If you are a service based business, your end goal will be for someone to engage your skills and expertise to solve a problem for them. For example, to engage an accountant to do your tax returns.
For Karen, the initial End Goal was simply that people would visit the website and take a look at the workshops on offer. Getting people to book in for a workshop wasn’t a goal – well not at first! And when the website was first launched there wasn’t a blog either. Both of these features were added later, once we had other parts up and running the way we wanted.
Just knowing this at the beginning of the website build meant a few things:
- Karen needed to think about her branding.
- The look and feel of the homepage needed to be decided.
- Some content for the website’s pages needed to be written.
We didn’t get bogged down with payment gateways and shopping carts or content creation for the blog. If we had decided to included all these ‘extra’ features at the beginning, launching the website would have taken a whole lot longer and been much more stressful.
Our approach was Progress, not Perfection!
Karen already had a Facebook page for Studio Fifty-three. She had a logo that she had whipped up to use on the page. The logo wasn’t bad or offensive, but when we talked about how she wanted the website to ‘feel’, Karen quickly realised a do over was going to be necessary. The style and colours didn’t seem to be consistent with the vision she had for Studio Fifty-three!
Again, Karen wasn’t afraid to get some help and with the aid of a graphic designer a new logo was created along with some other branding collateral – fancy speak for things such as, letterhead, header graphics and the like.
The Home Page
With the branding sorted out, creating the look and feel of the home page – and the entire website – was made a whole lot easier. The colours used throughout the website are inspired by the branding and this helps keep the overall theme consistent. There’s no bright orange or jarring colour clashes. Even much of the photography is in line with the colour theme – and this is due to Karen’s artistic eye and flair!
There were also specific elements the website had to have. We had to create a positioning statement to let people know instantly what Studio Fifty-three was about when they arrived. We had to decide on a ‘call to action’ we wanted people to take when they arrived and a feature area to highlight workshops being run soon.
Content for Webpages
With any website build this is usually the bottleneck – and I have to say that with Karen, she was absolutely no different! Creating the content to be added to each website page is a big job and you have to be committed to just doing it, to get it done!
Let’s be honest. Karen is an artist and very visually motivated. This is fantastic because pictures and visual interest is very important to make a website interesting. What Karen isn’t excited about, is writing! So getting the content for the pages did take a little bit longer than we planned on.
But that’s how we are as humans, isn’t it? If we really don’t like doing something, we procrastinate. All of a sudden there are 10 other things more important than whatever it is we don’t want to do!
Time to Launch!
Once we had the content and fussed and re-fussed about the detail (perfectionism affects both of us) we knew we had to launch the website and let everyone come and take a look. This time we both procrastinated! But we set a date and decided, no matter what, the website would be live – perfect or not!
Studio Fifty-three website went live on Monday, June 21 2016. To ensure we clicked the send button on the email to announce the launch of the website, Jane Degnian was at Karen’s to hold us to account. And help drink the Champagne!
How do we know anyone came? Did we achieve the End Goal?
I’m glad you asked! And yes, we achieved the goal of having people come to the website to have a look around.
We know this because when we launched the website we also installed Google Analytics to see how many visitors come to the website each month. What this data shows us is that when someone visits the website, on average they look at 4 pages and the bounce rate is very low! The bounce rate tells us that only a few visitors arrive and leave without looking at at least one more page and the pie chart shows us that Karen has a loyal tribe but plenty of new visitors, coming to see what is happening at Studio Fifty-three.
Building a website without using a website planner is like going on a driving holiday without a destination in mind or a map to find your way. If you’re planning on building a new website or rebuilding an existing one, download our Website planner to help you identify your destination and map out how you will get there.