Step 1 – Planning
Site planning is essential, as it will help you establish what sort of site you need. This will impact on everything going forward, from the hosting you choose to the themes and plugins you use.
You might just want a blog. But perhaps you also need to include screenshots, diagrams, price lists and probably a bunch of things you haven’t even thought of yet. Start by asking yourself some questions.
What do you want to achieve?
You may simply want to provide information in an easy-to-find, easy-to-read format. Your aim may be to showcase a project, sell products or offer guidance to your readers. Each of these goals will have a different impact on the decisions you make about your site.
The amount of information you’ll include and the number of visitors you anticipate will determine what hosting package you’ll need. If you’re selling something, you’ll need a commerce plugin. If you’re setting up an email marketing campaign, you will need to integrate with a service provider like Mailchimp. Through site planning, you can establish clear goals, so you can understand what you need to accomplish every step of the way.
Who will visit your website?
Having a good understanding of your target market will allow you to create a website that not only provides your visitors with what they’re looking for, but appeals to them. Hopefully this will get them coming back and spreading the word. The aim is to get both new and repeat visitors.
Knowing your audience helps. You can use language they’ll understand and visuals that will appeal to them, plus you can build your website in a way that will make the information accessible.
What is your budget?
You may have bucks to spare, in which case you can choose the themes and plugins you need, regardless of their cost. But for most startups and new website owners, you’ll need to consider your budget and where you want to spend it.
Your hosting will take up a portion of that budget – how much depends on your needs and goals. You can then figure out where the rest must go. You can get plugins and themes for free, but these may not have the features you’re looking for. Or you may want to spend extra on your site’s design, or tracking and SEO. So keep an eye on what you spend and where it goes.
What features does your website need to have?
A WordPress site can provide you with the basic structure, allowing you to include pages, posts, contact details and the like. You’ll also need a theme and images that appeal to your target market.
Good SEO is essential – there are so many sites and blogs out there, so the best way to get to the top of the pack is to firstly provide good, useful content. Secondly you need to ensure that your content has good SEO. To accomplish all of this, and more, you’ll need the right plugins.
These are just a few of the ways that site planning can help. As you go through each of the steps, think about what you need to accomplish and how you plan to do this.
You should now have a good idea of what you want to accomplish. So let’s put that plan into action. The next step is deciding on your domain – here’s a guide to choosing the domain and email that works best for you.
You may not have all the answers right now, your plans may change, or you may find that something isn't working the way you hoped. But having an idea of where you want to go, will help you figure out how to get there.