How to plan and outline your website

When it comes to websites, things can easily get out of control or overwhelming. You may start off small or think you don't have a lot of content to include, but once you get into it, you'll probably realize there's more to it than you thought. One of the best things you can do for your website development is to plan and outline your site ahead of time. I do this with each of my clients in order to ensure that we are maximizing their online presence. By planning your website and outlining your content before you get too far into the process, you (and your designer) will be more prepared and end up with a better product because of it.

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Think ahead

I've heard a lot of people say they don't know what they need on their website until they see the design. However, it doesn't work out very well if you design a site without knowing the goal and flow of the site. It's important to think ahead about what you want your site to do for your business, what kind of content and pages will do that, and how you want it to flow overall. By thinking thro go it before you get too far into the process you're getting ahead of the game.

It helps to know what you need from your website so that it can direct the design, layout, and function of the site. If you're working with a designer, this will help them tremendously to know what the design needs to portray and how they should be guiding visitors through the site. A design can change dramatically after knowing what content goes on each page but if you do this step first, you'll avoid doing more work in the end.

Write it out

Once you've thought through it some, you need to write it out. Write down all the things. All the pages you want, all the content included, the goal of each page, and what you want it to do. You can even create a flow from one page to the next so you know the path you will guide visitors to take through your site. Having a written plan helps to make sense of it as a whole. You can look at it all together and eliminate unnecessary content and pages from there. Then you can see what you need to focus on and what specific content needs to be written for your site. In addition, you'll have a written plan ready to pass off to your designer that will make the design process go that much smoother.

Plan of attack

After it's all written out, you need to make sense of it. You need a plan of attack to determine how you want to approach things and execute your plan. Typically the next step after making an outline of your site is to write the content and curate the images so you have it packaged up and ready to go into the design and development stage.

Planning and outlining your website ahead of time will greatly benefit you when moving through the website development process. Taking the easy steps can help you create a strong and intentional plan for your site.