How to plan a website (free website planning guide)

How to plan a website and free website planning tool

One of the most important steps you can take before beginning to build a website for your blog or business is to have a solid plan in place.

It’s so easy to want to jump right in and start building and designing your site, but without a content plan, you may spend time on areas that don’t meet your ideal customer’s needs.

In this post, we’ll cover just what is a site plan and how to plan a website.

Need help creating a website strategy and a content plan? I’m including a website planning tool at the bottom of this post to help you plan and create a website strategy.

What is a site plan?

The purpose of your site is to provide clear information on the topics of your choice and to lead your ideal reader to take specific action.

To do that effectively, you should spend some time thinking through some important aspects of your website, so when you begin to create content you will have a clear understanding of:

  • The purpose of your website
  • The ideal customer or reader you want to target
  • What type of content will you be providing your target audience
  • What action do you want your customers to take
  • What are the overall goals you want to achieve with your site

A site plan helps you create an overall website strategy and content plan so you know where to best spend your time, and provides a roadmap to keep you on-track.

Related: How to create a successful website that keeps customers returning

Why do you need to create a site plan for your website?

To understand who you are creating the site for

You may think the answer to that is you, but it’s not. You are creating your website to attract the ideal reader for your blog, or customer for your products and services. And to do that, you need to have a better understanding of exactly who that person is.

To many, this is known as an ideal customer avatar. Someone you speak to through all your communication – website, email, social media, etc.

Your ideal avatar is the perfect person you would want to sell to, and the better you get to know her, the easier it will be to meet her needs and provide great products and services that she will adore.

To discover the purpose of your website

What do you want your website to do? Will it be a blog and serve to provide mostly information to your readers through blog posts or podcasts, or do you plan to sell products or provide services for your ideal customer?

Knowing the exact purpose of your site will help you plan the right kind of content for your reader.

To identify what type of content you will create

Creating great content is an area that many find difficult to keep up with (myself included), but I’ve found that it’s not always due to lack of information and knowledge, but lack of planning.

There are many different types of content you may want to include on your site such as blog posts, sales pages, landing pages, email opt-in’s, podcasts, webinars, video tutorials and general product or service information.

Before you dive right into writing content for your site, create a plan that includes what type of content you will need for your site and at what frequency you plan to create it.

Create a content calendar

If you plan to create a blog, make sure you are brainstorming ideas for what topics you want to talk about and be sure to put them on a calendar.

It’s helpful to have a calendar of topics and post ideas already planned out so you don’t waste time trying to figure it all out last minute.

And don’t forget to plan out and schedule your weekly email content ideas.

Since this is one of the most important areas of focus when growing a blog or business, you will want to make sure you are providing valuable content for your readers every week.

To understand what action you want readers to take on your site

When a visitor lands on your site, you have very few precious seconds to grab their attention. They need to understand exactly what you do and how you can help them, and this can be done by using greate messaging, high-quality images and clear CTA’s.

Once the reader is aware of what you have to offer and you now have their attention, what is it that you want them to do next?

  • Sign up for your email list by downloading an opt-in offer
  • Learn more about your products or services
  • Read your latest blog post
  • Subscribe to your latest podcast

Don’t expect the reader to know what you want them to do. You need to tell them in clear, simple terms what they should do next.

Think through the steps you want your reader to take when they land on your site and plan accordingly.

To set goals you want to achieve with your blog or online business

This should probably be first on the list, but I’m saving the best for last.

Do you set goals for your blog or business? Do you have a vision plan for where you want your business to be a year from now, three years from now?

Goals help to keep you focused on doing the things in your business that are going to bring you the most success. When you stop to think about what you want most in your business, you are actually setting the probability of achieving it in motion.

If you never take the time to really think about what you want, then you run the risk of doing all the wrong things because you don’t have an end goal in mind.

Set big goals

Setting goals can be scary and overwhelming but only if you allow it to be.

Set big goals, ones that you think would never be possible. Then work backward to figure out the steps you would need to complete for the possibility of achieving that goal.

Don’t worry if you have no idea how you could possibly make it happen. The most important thing is that you write it down and look at it often.

The mind is incredibly powerful and will begin to find ways to help you achieve your goals. But it’s up to you to think about what it is you want and put it down on paper.

If you are building a website, you need a website plan

If there is one thing I’ve learned over the years as a web designer, it’s that having a great plan in place makes everything so much easier.

I’m as guilty as the next person for not being the greatest planner when it comes to my work. Sometimes I just want to jump right in and start creating.

But that way of doing things can get you stuck and in trouble quick.

Once you get too far into your site and realize you didn’t connect things up correctly or that your site is a confusing mess, you will wish you had spent a bit more time on planning things out on the front end.

How to create your website plan

If you are ready to begin creating your website plan, download the SmartSheet below that includes more information on how to plan out your site content and gives you plenty of space to brainstorm ideas.

Even if you have a site that you’ve had for a while, you may find it helpful in identifying areas you can improve on.

Share your thoughts

What do you struggle with when it comes to planning a website and how have you been able to work through it? Your comments are so valuable to me, and I’d love it if you would let me know in the comments below!

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