Perhaps you have recently started a new business (congratulations) and need a website or perhaps it is time for a refresh of your current website. In either case, it is important to carry out some basic planning before you get going. Even if you have a trusted website designer, you know your business best and we would recommend you get involved in the planning.
How do you choose the right domain name when planning a website? (if a new website).
When choosing a domain name for your website – and if appropriate, the name for your business – we would recommend you:
- Keep the name as short as possible and ensure it is easy to pronounce/spell.
- Avoid hyphens – It can be difficult for customers to remember to add hyphens to your domain name and they can be associated with spam.
- Check whether the .co.uk version is available? Unless you are an international business, .co.uk is going to be the easiest for people to remember. You might also want to buy any associated domains (.com, .net, .uk) to protect your brand.
- Use keywords in your domain name if possible.
- Search for the name to see what else is out there. You don’t want to end up competing against an established business.
- Do a trademark search to make sure you won’t get into trouble with other brands.
- Check on Companies’ House to see if the name has already been registered.
- Check on social media channels to see if the name is available. It can confuse your audience to use a different social media username than your domain name.
How do you know which keywords/keyword phrases to use?
We cover this whole subject in much more detail in our Introduction to Search Engine Optimisation course but here are some starting points:
- As you know, a keyword is a word that is entered into search engines to find your product or service. Ideally, you want your product/service to appear on page 1 of the results.
- We would recommend creating a list of keyword/keyword phrases and then design your website pages around the most important keyword phrases rather than designing the website first.
- Your keyword research should:
- Include words your audience will use to find you – this might not be the same words your team use internally.
- Look at what keywords your competitors are using. We use the Mozbar Chrome extension to make this easier.
- Use tools like Uber Suggest, Google Keyword planner, or Keywords Everywhere to help you research keywords to include on your website.
- Identify the main phrases that will form the structure of your website and make a list of phrases to use in future blog posts.
- Each page on your website should focus on a different keyword phrase and the phrase should be added to the places on your site search engines would expect to find them. You may find you need more pages than you first thought.
- Decide whether to include a location in your keyword phrase to make it easier to find the website in your local area.
What functionality should I include on my website?
- Be clear about what functionality you require on your website. Do you need a simple brochure site or do you need to have an e-commerce element?
- Are you wanting to create links to newsletter sign-up forms, landing pages with downloads, membership functionality? What can be included in a ‘phase 1’ and what can be included later?
- Experience has shown, it is often better to get the basic elements working and live and then add to it rather than trying to get all the functionality working immediately.
- The beauty of content management systems, like WordPress, is that you can bolt on additional functionality using plugins relatively simply so you don’t need to develop all aspects of the site at once. However, I would plan the full functionality required to ensure the customer journey remains correct.
What is the customer journey?
A customer journey describes each of the types of audience you want to attract (personas) and identifies all the touchpoints they have with your business. You can plot the journey and make sure the journey they are taking is achieving the overall objectives for the business.
When you are planning a website, you need to consider how people will enter the individual website pages and what you want them to do next. You only have a few seconds to tell people what the next step is so you need to make it clear.
Don’t forget about the journey on a mobile device. When looking at a website on a mobile device, most people won’t use the menu. You need to have clear buttons or a call to action to tell people what to do next.
If you want to create a website yourself, Concise would suggest our WordPress for Websites bundle. This bundle includes our SEO, images, and WordPress courses together with a free development area to create your website before you need to purchase hosting to make it live.
Alternatively, you might want to take advantage of our full website development services. We work with you to plan your site around relevant keyword phrases and your customer journey and will create a beautiful website that works.
Are you planning a website? Do let us know how you get on in the comments section below.