Website design checklist before you begin your website renovation or new build
You’ve made the important decision to update your website, or even create an entirely new website. That’s an awesome start that will only enhance and better your company’s success. Now that the decision has been made, the next steps of what to do may seem a little less clear and easy. You may have a pretty good idea of what you want on your site, but do you know what you want your website to accomplish? Do you have a thorough list of the pages you want and will be able to populate? How about ideas on the color palette and overall look? Do you want to capture emails and, if so, do you have a plan for communicating with your subscribers?
Are you ready to proceed? The right answer is a resounding “yes,” and we have a thorough checklist to help you get started.
There are a lot of factors and a lot of questions to consider with your website, which is not only an essential communication tool for your business, but probably your most effective and profitable method of engaging your audience, growing your customer base, and building your brand. That being said, you definitely want to practice due diligence and smart planning before you ever begin creating content. You need to ensure every function and factor is considered at the front end, which will help you and your web developer immensely throughout the process for a comprehensive, fully functional, well-thought-out final product: your user-friendly, attractive, and effective website that is your 24/7 communicator with your audience.
So let’s get started!
Website Design Checklist
Goals & Objectives
Gone are the days of a website functioning as a stagnant digital brochure talking to your customers about what you offer. Your website is as an active, engaging communicator with your audience in a two-way conversation to answer questions and take feedback, collaborate to make your products and service better, provide useful tips and information, and to socialize.
To embrace all of a website’s capabilities, you need to determine specific goals and objectives that you want it to accomplish. By doing so, you will help provide direction for your business and employees, and energize your company to reach its goals and achieve measurable success.
First and foremost, your goals need to be what’s called “SMART,” which stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-specific. Goals that include these five important things provide motivation, focus, and direction, instead of nondescript goals that only provide a general guide for what you are trying to achieve.
Examples of SMART website goals include:
- Increase website traffic by XX% in 1 year
- Increase brand loyalty through blog posts with at least XX shares per week
- Increase online sales by XX% over the next 6 months
- Increase in-store traffic by XX% over the next 9 months
- Add XXXX new e-newsletter subscribers in 3 months
- Add entire store inventory to online site within 1 year
This is the heart of your website and the soul of what will make your audience want to visit your site. All of your pages need to focus on attaining those SMART goals. Your pages convey your brand, voice, and message that makes you interesting, valuable, and needed in customers’ lives. Before working on what this content will be, determine which pages you want to feature and make sure you have enough valuable content to fill those pages.
In addition to the standard home page, and pages for things like About Us, History, Contact, and so on, typical pages to consider include:
- Contact Us
- Customer Login
- Employee Login
- Vendor Login
- Featured Products
- Current Sales
- Special Events
- Rewards/Loyalty Programs
- Store Hours
- Community Service
- Policies (including Privacy, Refunds, Terms & Conditions, etc.)
- Advanced Search
- Shipping/Delivery Info
- My Account
- Email signup
- Photo Gallery
How do you envision your site’s look and feel? What message do you want to send visually? What colors reflect your company? Do you want the site info-heavy, or clean and simple? And how can the look help you achieve your goals? If one of your SMART goals is to drive more elderly traffic to the website, then utilizing a low contrast design will be detrimental to that SMART goal.
To help establish your website’s overall look, answer the following questions:
- Which colors would you like to use? To come up with ideas, check out paletton.com.
- Do you prefer a minimalist look (clean and simple with plenty of “white” space) or a more robust look/feel (darker colors, background texture or image)? Visit dribbble.com for endless style ideas.
- Do you have a font preference? Web-safe fonts can be found at google.com/fonts
- Do you want a background? Web-safe repeating backgrounds can be found at http://subtlepatterns.com/
Likes & Dislikes?
List the url’s of at least three websites, not necessarily within your same industry, that you like and tell what do you like about them.
You should also come up with a list of things you specifically do not like in a website in terms of style, text, content, color, or graphics.
Which social media site buttons would you like to include? Remember your SMART goals here!
Do you need any social media sites created for you? Do you want to include share/like buttons for the popular social networking pages on each page of your site?
- List all the relevant search terms (keywords and key phrases) you can think of for customers to find your website/products.
- Which pages will require the web developer to create web copy, graphics and photos?
- Which sections/pages will need regular updating?
- Would you like to be able to do most of the updating yourself?
- If you’re planning on writing a blog do you already have several things written?
- Do you already write on a regular basis?
- Do you have an email service account? (Constant Contact, MailChimp etc.)?
- Will you want to build your mailing list and use it for marketing/newsletters?
- Are there any features/pages that you don’t need now but may want in the future?
The above information should help you move a long way in thinking through your website in an effort to make it user friendly, effective, and successful in reaching your SMART goals. Planning is hard work and may seem like a step backward when you feel anxious and want your website done right away. But planning is essential, and will help you move forward diligently, help your web developer thoroughly understand your business, wants and needs, and help your website achieve its goals.