1. Identify the goal of your website
Planning you website is no different from planning any other project, and it is good practice to begin by looking at the end point or goal that you want to achieve. You need to decide what your website is for. Is it:
* An informational website to showcase your product, and provide people with a way to contact you?
* A website that will show your products and also allow people to make purchases?
* A website that provides people with a service?
* Or a website with a completely different focus?
Knowing the purpose of the website is a key step in deciding on the type of website. For example, if you need a website to only provide information to people about a product, you will not need a website or web host with ecommerce functionality (though if there is a possibility you want to sell products in future, then you may be better off choosing a web host that does offer this). You would also probably need a smaller website, that is highly focussed on the product or service.
2. Focus on the market or audience
This is the next important aspect to consider and is closely linked to the goal you have identified above. The target market may be very specific or broad depending on your product or service. The whole style and design of the website should be created to appeal to your target market. The functionality of the website also should be tailor to this group. There is little point having a website that has the colors and styles that would appeal to teenagers, if your product is suited to children. Likewise, if your website's functionality does not take into account older people (for example with larger font size) when they are your target market, it is unlikely to be a success.
3. Create the content
The next step is to determine the content that your website will have based on your goals and audience. It is not necessary to write the content at this point, but to plan what information you will publish on your website. At this point, and before producing the content, you should also start thinking about search engine optimization.
4. Develop the structure
Now you know what content you will have on your website, you can plan out the structure of your website. The sitemap of your website is a good place to start. You can work out how many pages you will have, and how they will link together. Web designers talk about "levels". The first level is your most important pages, and then you may have a second level which is reached by one of the first level pages. You may have additional levels, but generally the fewer levels you have the better. The structure should be logical and you need to think about the way your target market visitor will arrive at your website and how you would like them to travel around your website.
5. Come up with a design
So now you have established what will go in your website and how it will fit together, you need to think about the way it will look. This step involves developing a theme for your website taking into consideration your website goals, your audience and content. Once you have a theme, you can create the structure and layout of your pages, and choose a color scheme.
6. Publish the website
At this point, your website is ready and you need some kind of web hosting and a domain name so that you can upload your website to the internet for your target market to see it!