You’ve just had a great idea for a website
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So you have just had an idea for a new website. Some people, right after getting an idea, like to start creating the website straight away. However this can be a bad idea, since you may end up making some crucial mistakes that a small amount of planning could have prevented. It’s usually wise to, before making the website, follow these steps:

  • Research existing websites with a similar or same niche to your idea
  • Have a clear set of objectives and goals
  • Plan on paper a brief website layout and structure

This is a similar (albeit perhaps more brief) set of steps to the development of a product – i.e. plan and know the market before working on your own product (or, in this case, website)

Research Existing Websites

Whilst you may feel you know your target market (and what your target audience are looking for from websites in your target niche), it’s nearly always sensible to simply visit similar websites to your idea. Be sure to look out for things you like from similar websites, what you think could perhaps be done better, elements which are common between all websites you are researching, and especially what feature or features you may be able to provide that these other websites aren’t offering.

Never copy an idea or feature you like from existing websites; this is a recipe for disaster and never a good idea. This section is simply suggesting that you use your research findings for inspiration and as a guide.

Of course, there may be existing websites with whom you will be competing against (in terms of getting traffic) who are already relatively big and established. Don’t let this put you off – if possible, try looking for some unique features you can offer. Also remember that every website has to start off somewhere. As long as you work hard and have good, unique content, your website has every chance of becoming successful.

Summary

Have a brief look around some similar websites to your idea, so that you can have a clear mind about how your own website should be laid out, and what sort of content, structure and features it should have. Don’t copy, but be inspired!

Have Clear Objectives/Goals

Whether you write these down (on paper or in a text file on your computer), or whether you simply have them in your head, it’s important to have some sort of idea about what you want to achieve with your website. This can help you when you come to plan your website, and when you come to design and write content for it too.

You don’t have to have a lengthy business plan-type idea of what you want to achieve, but simply thinking “I’d like this website to become 5th most popular in its niche within 6 months” or even “I’d like to have 5 pages of good content at first, and then add a new page/article bi-weekly” is a good idea.

Whilst setting out your aims/objectives for your website may seem like a silly idea, anything that helps to focus your mind on the task at hand before you start coding/designing is in-fact a good idea.

Summary

At the very least, have a rough idea of what you want to achieve with your website. This will help you down-the-line whether you are planning your website or whether you have already built your website and are wondering which new features/content to offer next.

Planning

I personally find this can be a bit of a boring step, however I also find it to be very useful (and so important). It needn’t be time consuming – all it involves is sitting down with a pen/pencil and a piece of paper, and jotting down a few quick ideas.

Try and visualize what you want your website to look like – its colour, its aesthetics/look and its layout/structure.

Once you have an idea of how you want your website to look and be set out, write down the sort of content you want – make a list (it doesn’t have to be comprehensive at this stage) of the pages and sections you want. Will you have 5 pages to start off with, or more? Or just a couple to begin with? How much will you be aiming to write on each page? 300 words per page, or 1000 words per page? How many, if any, images will you be using? Where will you place the images (at the start or end of the content)? Etc.

You needn’t think of, nor answer, any or all of the above questions – they are just aiming to give a quick indication about some things you may think of when planning your content. However don’t worry if, when planning, you simply list a couple of pages/features you want on your website and leave it at that.

This planning stage shouldn’t be difficult – if anything, it should be the opposite. It should just be a quick way of focusing your mind on what exactly you want your website to look like and offer. There’s nothing worse than having a great idea, being excited and starting to create your website, only to realize that you don’t really know what you want your website to look like or what you want it to offer.

Even a few minutes with a pen and paper should help alleviate some concerns you may have.

Summary

Sit down with a pen and paper and jot down some ideas you have – try and come up with a brief website design/layout and some of the content/features you want.

To Conclude

The main aim of this blog post is to help you gain a clear and concise view of what you want your website to look like and offer before actually working on creating it. Whilst it can be frustrating to have a great idea and then have to plan it out before developing the website, many people find that it is actually beneficial to have a plan for your layout and content before creating it.

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