“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
That quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin (whether correctly or not) is everything in business. You probably created a plan before you started your business (or at least you should have). And you likely have a plan to grow your business too.
So if you’re looking for a new website (or your first website), you need to plan for that as well. You’ll need to ask yourself and/or your business partners a number of questions and answer them honestly.
And it’ll need to be wide-ranging, from what you want and need, to your budget to even the timing for the website. Leave no stone unturned.
And the result will be a roadmap that will land you a website that’s going to help your business grow.
So let’s start planning your new website.
Why should you plan for your business website?
You planned for your business right? You sat down, probably with a coach or a mentor, and outlined a business plan before you bought a storefront or started to sell your first product.
So why wouldn’t you do the same for a new website for your business?
Creating a plan for the website is going to make every step of the process much smoother for everyone. You’re going to have a clearer idea of what you want for this website. And you can tell the agency or developer exactly that. Then they can give you exactly that.
That means there’s less time wasted with you trying to make up your mind about what you want. The agency or developer doesn’t have to spend a ton of time in the discovery phase trying to figure out what you want. When you get to the review phase, you’ll have an even clearer idea of what you want. And all of that time saved is money saved.
In short, taking the time to plan your website now saves time, money and headaches down the road.
How you should plan for your business website
Before we get going, you might be wondering how you can plan for a new website for your business.
The simple answer is that you ask questions and then answer them. Really, it’s as simple as that. No complicated forms and no crazy spreadsheets. Just questions and answers.
And this will help you really figure out what this website needs to be. You’ll learn what you need from the website to help your business. Plus, the more detailed your questions and answers, the clearer the picture will be for you and the developer or agency.
Here are a few good ones to help get you started.
Planning for a New Website
Determine if you need a new website
The first thing you need to do in planning your website is to figure out if you actually need a new website.
This involves a whole bunch of other questions, which I’ve gone over before. But as I mentioned above, this new website is going to be an investment — both in time and money. And you really need to make sure that your business needs a website before you step down that path.
Obviously, if your business is just starting out, then yeah, you definitely need a website, even if it’s just a single or couple of pages saying that you exist. That way search engines can index your site and people can find you.
If your business just has a Facebook page, again yes, you need a website since that’s not going to cut it in today’s digital marketing world. And if your website looks old and outdated, then it’s probably time to give it a facelift.
But after that, it gets a little bit murkier on what you should do. Sometimes you might really be better off making adjustments here or there that can unlock a lot of potential. Other times, like if you want to sell online, a new website might be just what you need to give your business a boost.
So sit down and really think about whether or not you need a new website. It’s a decision that could save you unnecessary time, costs and headaches.
How will this website help your business?
The ultimate goal for any website for your business is for it to help your business. If it’s not doing that, then why do you even have one.
So the next thing you need to do is to figure out how this website is going to help your business. And that’s going to look differently for each business.
If you’re just starting out or don’t have a website, maybe this website is going to help get your business name out there online. It will allow you to be found by search engines and be a place you can . And you can put all of your business information, such as contact information and physical address, and about page and show off your business.
If you’re more established and can make it work, maybe this website will allow you to sell online and to expand your potential customer base and grow your business. And with more and more people shopping online, that’s a great way to help your business.
But figure out how this website is going to help your business. Figuring out the answer to that question will guide your every step the rest of the way.
Learn How to Create a Website That Helps Your Business
Creating a website seems like an easy thing to do, especially with today’s tools. But creating a website that actually helps your business grows? That’s another story. But if you take the time go through and learn about the process, you’ll end up with a better experience and successful website. So get the guide that will walk you through each of the steps and find your way to the best website possible.
What website can you afford?
Next, you need to budget out how much you can afford to spend on a website.
Websites cost a lot of money and with good reason too. They are an investment, the same as your car or home. And typically, the more you put into a website (as long as it’s quality work), the more you’re going to get out of it.
But at the same time, it’s hard to ignore your budget and you shouldn’t spend so much over what you can really afford. So it becomes a balancing act.
The good news is that there are options when it comes to your website. If you have the cash to do it, a custom website is a great choice. But if you’re not at that point, don’t worry just yet. There are other options. For one, some developers or agencies (like myself) can offer pre-built solutions (like using a pre-built WordPress theme or something similar) than can drastically bring down the price of the website.
And finally, if you’re just getting started and need something super cheap, you can give Wix and Squarespace a go. I’m not a fan of using them on anything larger than a couple-page website, but they can be a help to get you going at the start.
So sit down and look through your financials and come up with a budget for your website. Then see how much you can afford to spend on a new website. Don’t worry, you can still get a quality website that will help your business with any budget.
How quickly do you need this website?
Another thing you need to consider is how quickly you need this website.
Now, before you go too far down this road, you need to know one thing. More often than not, websites don’t happen in a day. Yes, if you go the Wix or Squarespace route, you can get one set up pretty quickly.
But if you bring in an agency or developer, which is recommended, it’s going to take some time. You’re going to have to go through all of their steps in the process, which means it will take a month at a minimum.
So you need to think about when you need this website to go live. Do you currently have a website and can use that until whenever this website is ready? Do you need it to go live when you launch your business or new branding? When you need your website will also determine what type of website you’ll end up getting.
Ideally, you’ve started to think about this website well before you actually need one. But if not, it’s time to really think about when you need it.
What do you want with this website?
Finally, you really need to think about what you want with this website.
This kind of crosses over into the section about how will this website help your business, but this focuses more on your wants. What do you want this website to do and look like?
Do you want an online store? Do you want to be able to blog and do content marketing? Or are you looking for something that’s completely custom and that is uniquely your business?
This is going to have an effect on what type of website you want and how much you’re going to have to pay for this website. And that might mean you won’t be able to get everything or you’re going to have to change your budget.
But for now, dream about your new website. Think about your wants for this website — what you want it to look like and what you want it to do. From there, you and the developer/agency can work out how best to make it a reality.
Get Insights on How to do a Small Business Website Right!
Are you looking to get some help with your small business’ website, but aren’t quite in a spot to take that next step? No worries! I’ve got you covered with a small business newsletter. This weekly newsletter will talk about a different subject related to websites and small businesses each week, as well as highlight blog posts that can help you out. This will help you optimize your business’ site as much as you can while you get yourself into a position to take the next step for your website.
So, where do you go from here?
Well, first off sit down and think through these questions and write down your answers. And I really mean to write them down. Whether you use physical pencil/pen and paper or type it on a computer, just make sure you write it down so you have something to refer to later on in the process.
And then I want you to think up some your own questions about this website and what you want for it and then answer those as well. Make them more specific to your business and what you do.
And don’t be afraid to spend a good amount of time in this phase. The better you plan now and the more thorough you are, the easier the rest of the steps will be.
That makes for a much better experience for everyone.