Are you thinking about a new design for your website? If you are, then that's great. But, before you start your project, you first need a website design project plan!
Why having a website design project plan is critical
Having a plan of action for a website design and launch project is essential. Here's why -
- Planning helps to minimize costs, delays, and obstacles
- A website design project plan can help you visualize expectations
- Planning ahead can help you reach your website goals faster
Without an action plan, you will most likely struggle to start or even finish your design project.
However, luckily for you, you found this post. So, below I have outlined 12 steps you need to take to help you create your website design project plan and get you started working on your website without delay.
Your 12 steps to creating a website design project plan
#1. Define your audience
Before you start planning of any kind, the first thing you want to do is to try and define your website's audience.
Here's what you need to know -
- Who will be using your website? (What is your ideal customer)
- Who will be reading your blog (If you plan to have a blog)
- What devices will folks be using mainly to visit your website?
When it comes to analytics, you can use whatever software you want. Google Analytics is free, but often the data can be quite confusing. I use Plausible for my freelance business. It's not a free service, but the data is much easier to understand.
#2. Define your website's goals and objectives
Next, you'll need to define your website's goals, objectives, mission, etc.
Ask yourself the following -
- What do you want people to do when they arrive at your website? What action do you want them to take? For example, do you want them to go straight to your blog? Do you want them to check out your products or services? Or communicate with you directly, etc?
- What pages/content do you want them to land/visit mostly on your website or blog? For example, I have several pages on Fabrizio Van Marciano that are conversion pages. My services pages, my web design video course landing page, and my email signup page.
Once you've identified what, next take a look at how. For instance -
- How easy can you make it for your visitors to find the content they're looking for, or products and services, or to make contact with you? Knowing this can help you create the objective of making the visitor journey short and sweet when it comes to finding exactly what they're looking for.
- How effective can you make your call to actions call-to-actions? Understanding this can help you design conversion elements such as links and buttons to make them more click-worthy.
#3. Create a visual sitemap
What is a visual sitemap?
A visual sitemap is simply a visual layout of the pages of a website. Creating a visual sitemap helps to -
- Map out the pages of a website
- Identify which pages are important and which aren't
- More importantly, visualize the visitor/customer journey towards the website's conversion goal
I don't think this is something that every web designer uses or does. But being a certified growth-driven designer and front-end web developer, I'm also a HubSpot Certified digital and inbound marketer.
For me, a website shouldn't just look pretty, it should also help a business or organization achieve growth and success.
#4. Creating a wireframe, or two
Once you have understood more about your ideal audience and have decided on what your website's goals and objectives will be, you can start working on a prototype design and layout for your new website.
Don't forget to take into consideration all of the data you gathered in defining your target audience, website goals, and objectives. That's very important.
The tools I love to use and recommend for creating wireframe designs are -
- Affinity Designer application for the Mac
#5. Preparing content for your website
The next process of creating a website design project plan is outlining what content or copywriting you will use.
Copywriting is such a hugely critical element of the web design project. As well as providing important information to your visitors, your copy will also help to vocal your brand's message clearly.
Unfortunately, many web designers use website copy as an afterthought, when it clearly should be part of the design process.
When you are creating your wireframe template, you will probably make use of filler content, also known as FPO (for placement only) text. This will be made to fit around the design elements and containers.
Using dummy content is useful in the wireframing phase because it gives you, or the copywriter (if you outsource one), an idea of how much text space area you can use to compose copy for the website.
#6. Setting your budget
OK, so now we get onto the subject of budgeting for your website design project.
Here's what you need to ask yourself -
- How much do you want to spend on your entire web design project?
- How much can you afford to spend right now?
Of course, the more features you add to your web design list of requirements, the more expensive the project is going to end up costing you.
Some people like to invest in the preparatory design and layout, and later on think about upgrading other elements such as images, graphics, icons, and copywriting even.
Think about this step carefully. You don't always need to go in with all your chips. As you may know, the methodology I use for my clients is called growth-driven design, where a launch-ready website is designed and deployed first, and then additional features can be added later on, including improvements for continued growth.
#7. Hiring a web designer or DIY job?
Right, next up is finding a reliable web designer or developer to help you take your design project from the initial idea and planning to execution.
If you're going to hire someone to build your website for you, here's what you need to get from -
- Examples from a design portfolio
- Estimated cost
We'll take a look at timeframes and deadlines next.
If your web design project is something you'd rather undertake yourself, I have just the thing for you -
Check out my Ultimate WordPress and Oxygen Builder Complete Website Design Video Course here.
#8. Setting a time frame or deadline
One of the most critical elements of a web design project plan is the timeframe.
How long will it take to complete your new website design?
Now, talking purely from my own experience here, of course, many of the clients that I've worked with in the past have always stipulated that they ideally would like their website to be up and running within a week or so.
It's natural to want something immediately. After all, we do live in a world of instant gratification. But sadly, there isn't an app for instant bespoke website design... Or maybe there is.
Whilst you are thinking of a deadline for your own website or blog project, just make sure you are realistic about it.
Here's what you need to ask yourself -
- What is the 'realistic' deadline that I can accept for my project?
- If you don't have a deadline in mind, when would you like the project to be completed?
If you are outsourcing a web designer, make sure that you make it clear to them that you have a deadline in mind for your project, straight from the word go.
This is super important because it will eliminate any confusion later on.
#9. Working on your web design project
So, now that you have everything in place set to go, it's time to actually begin working on your web design project.
Of course, if you are hiring someone to do the work for you, you'll be relying on them to actually do the work and report back to you with a progress update every week or so.
If you're designing your website yourself, then you are in control of your progress. In fact, you're in control of pretty much everything.
#10. Evaluating progress
Whether you set smaller milestones or not for your website design project, it's important, from time to time, to stop and look back at the progress you've made.
If something needs changing or fixing, it's best that you know about it straight away. You don't necessarily have to go back and solve problems right away. But you can add them to your list of things to fix in the future.
If you are using a designer, make sure he or she communicates with you in a timely fashion. A weekly 'progress report' can go a long way so that you can evaluate things properly.
I've made the mistake in the past of leaving it too long to communicate back with clients because I've been so involved with a project. I have to be honest about it and now it's something I've learned to avoid doing.
#11. Optimizng your website (SEO, readability, page speed, AMP, etc)
Once 90% or more of your website design project is complete, including layout, content, images, videos, and all the rest of it, it's time to start optimizing for things like SEO, page speed, mobile responsiveness, and more.
In my web design video course, I cover all of the things regarding website optimization. Additionally, there are some tools and plugins you can use to help you optimize for each of the things I mentioned above -
#12. Finalizing your design
This stage is critical because it's the last stage before launching your new site for the world to see.
That being said, just because the site is ready for launch doesn't mean you will not be working on it again. Remember, after the website is launched, that's when the continued improvement phase kicks in.
You need to ask yourself the following questions -
- Is everything on your web design checklist complete?
- Are you 110% satisfied with everything you set out to achieve with my new website design project?
- Asides your website looking fantastic, does everything function as it should be, i.e contact forms, order forms, eCommerce, buttons, links, effects, transitions, plugins (WordPress), etc.
#13. Launching your website
What are you waiting for? Go ahead and launch your brand new website for your audience to see. I'd love to see it too, so feel free to share the link with me for some valuable feedback 🙂
Designing a website doesn't have to be a stressful or expensive venture. Not having a website will only leave your business behind your competitors. Can you afford to just leave money on the table? Whether you hire a designer or do it yourself, I hope you've found this post useful, and I want to wish you the very best of luck.