The 5 W’s and one H of Web Design

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Thinking through your new website

design3Building an effective website is can be a daunting task.  The excitement that comes from the initial decision to get online soon can give way to confusion on what to do and how to proceed. So what to do?  Plan.  What follows is a guide that you can use to plan your site and build something that will be an asset to your personal brand, or business. Knowing what you want to achieve with your website will go a long way in helping you get it done.

Who

Who are your visitors going to be?  Figuring out who will be visiting your site is key as this will help you plan out your content.  Who is your target audience?  Can you use it for customer service to take better care of your existing customers? 

Who is going to develop it?  Are you going to do it in-house?  Are you going to hire a developer? This is important.  There are varying opinions on this, but I’m of the opinion that if it’s going to be representing you to the entire world, it needs to be done right and working with a professional is never a bad idea. A competent professional can help guide you through the different phases of getting your site done right.  If you’re not sure of your ability  – or those within your organization – to build it correctly get some help. 

What

What kinds of content will be on your site?  How many pages?  Are you going to offer your products through the site?  Do you have a service that can be purchased through the site?  What about merchandise? 

Search engines love frequently updated content – it’s a traffic magnet.  The social media aspects are an absolute must-have for your site as is a company blog.  Write about your products and services, include how-to’s and pdf versions of back-up instructions. 

What social media elements are you going to integrate? Make sure you sign up for Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for your business.  Build out your profiles there.  Look in to Plaxo, and Xing.  Could those platforms help you build your reputation online?  Chris Brogan’s book Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust is full of great ideas on how social media can help you build your business’ reputation online.

When

What is your timeline from concept to launch?  Do you know what needs to be accomplished at the various stages of development? What kind of plan are you going to have for creating updates and adding new content?  Setting some expectations for how often you are going to add new content will help you manage how your site will grow in the future.

Why

It’s an existential question, I know.  But why are you doing this?  Everyone needs to be on the web – no exceptions.  But have you thought through what to expect when you expose your business to the world through your website?  How is it going to affect your business’ reputation? How can it help your business?  Thinking through the scenarios associated with this will help you to plan your content, and how you want to say what you want to say on your site.  Among these things that you’re thinking about one thing that you absolultely must include on this list is building trust.  You want to make sure that among your other reasons that you are establishing yourself as a subject matter expert and that you and your business are the place to go for authoritative information regarding your particular field. 

Where

Domain names and hosting are all part of the process (We offer hosting and domain registration at Orracle Media). Do you know what you need from your hosting company? Do you need managed hosting or can you manage the server yourself? Do you know what specs you’re going to need from your host? How long do you need to register your domain name for? The length of your domain registration can affect your search engine placement.

How

How is it going to generate revenue? How are you going to use it to attract new customers and clients?  If it just sits there and does little in the way of attracting quality traffic it may be more of burden than an asset.  So how are you going to get traffic?  How are you going to “monetize” your site?  How will your site open new opportunities for you to generate new revenue streams for your job?  How are you going to convert these potential new customers?  A good rule of thumb when considering this is that you want to make it easy for people to do business with you through your site.  Make sure you have a good plan.

This should give you a good start to planning out your site.  If you work through these questions you’ll be well on your way to getting a quality site. 

Thoughts or questions?  Add in the comments below.