1. Outline the basic structure of your website.
This doesn’t have to be more than a Word document including a list of the pages on the site and your estimated user flow (what pages you want the user to visit on your site, and in what order). This document will likely change during the creative process with your designer/developer, but having this outline will give you a significant head start in those meetings.
2. Create a revenue generation model.
Are you planning on generating revenue exclusively from e-commerce sales? Advertising? Affiliates? A BIG part of your model should be to determine monthly traffic/conversion/revenue goals for your site once you launch.
Also important to research are average CPC’s (Cost Per Click) for keywords you’re looking to target in paid advertising. This is will help you to determine how competitive your market is, and will allow you to create projections of how much money you may have to spend each month to reach your revenue goals. Also keep in mind that Search Engine Optimization, Social Media, and other free sources of traffic could be valuable, but will take time and resources to make effective. Having your revenue generation model fleshed out will allow you to make decisions during the design phase of your site creation based on your revenue goals.
3. Create a Marketing Plan.
This plan should work into that handy-dandy revenue generation model you created. Research your competition – what channels are they utilizing? Are they allocating significant resources to social media? Do you see paid ads for their services everywhere? Some channels you should be researching are Search Engine Optimization, Social Media, Search Engine Marketing (Paid Advertising). Make note of opportunities your competitors are missing (no Facebook page!) and add those channels to your plan.
4. Create Simple Wireframes.
A wireframe is the basic outline of the pages on your site, similar to the blueprint for a house. If you’re less-than-stellar with graphic design applications, you can create simple wireframes in PowerPoint. The wireframe doesn’t have to be professional, it just has to get your vision of the page outline across – use whatever medium you have available: notebook paper, hotel stationary, or cocktail napkin. Even having only the Homepage, a content page (for a brochure site), or a product page (for an e-commerce site) will allow to you to easily show your team what you are looking for in the layout of your pages. Google Image search “wireframes” to check out some examples.
5. Look at other sites in your industry.
Do a Google search for keywords related to your business and look at what your competitors are doing. Make a list of 10 sites: 5 you like and 5 you dislike (and why). This list will help tremendously in the creative and design phases of your project – this will allow your team to get an idea of your personal taste in website design. Collaboration with your team throughout your design and development is integral to creating a great site, but the more detail you can give your team on what you’re looking for, the better they can turn your online vision into a successful website!
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