The DIY Guide to Website Planning: Get Your Small Business Site Right

Samantha sits on her heels smiling, there is a pink background.
Samantha Shea
May 5, 2024

Imagine a website for your small business that works as a powerful marketing /lead generation machine, not just a digital brochure. A well-planned website helps you attract your ideal customers, build a strong brand reputation, and boost your bottom line. If your online presence is confusing visitors or failing to attract new leads, it might not be the design that's the problem. Often, it stems from a lack of strategic planning before a single line of code is written.

Why Website Planning Matters for Small Businesses:

Prevents Costly Mistakes: Jumping straight into design without a blueprint can lead to redesigns, missed opportunities, and wasted time and money.

Aligns with Your Business Goals: Planning ensures your website isn't just a pretty face; it actively supports your objectives, whether that's lead generation, online sales, or building brand awareness.

Enhances User Experience: A clear plan keeps the focus on how visitors will interact with your site, making it easy for them to find what they need and take action.

Boosts SEO: Search engines reward sites with a logical structure and content that aligns with what people are searching for. Strategic planning helps you get found.

Getting crystal-clear on the answers to the following questions will form the foundation of your website strategy.

1. Who is your ideal customer? (Example: "Fredericton homeowners seeking reliable plumbing services")

  • Go Beyond Demographics: Think about their lifestyle, pain points, and what motivates their decisions. Are they busy families? Retirees who want projects done right?
  • Create a Customer Avatar: Give them a name, a job, and specific anxieties they have that your plumbing services can solve.

2. What problems does your website solve for them?

  • Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Are they frustrated trying to find a trustworthy plumber in Fredericton? Do they need emergency repairs? Are they researching a bathroom renovation?
  • Connect Problems to Solutions: "My website makes it easy to book appointments in a few clicks" or "My blog provides DIY tips and helps potential customers trust my expertise."

3. What are your competitors doing well (and not so well) online?

  • Visit Their Websites: What's the first impression? Is it easy to navigate? Do they offer online booking, client testimonials, or other valuable features?
  • Identify Gaps: Where can you outshine your competitors? Perhaps they have outdated designs or lack clear calls to action.

4. What are your top 3-5 goals for the website?

  • Prioritize: More leads, increased online bookings, showcasing your work to high-end clients, etc. Be specific and rank them in order of importance.
  • Link Goals to Business Objectives: If your goal is leads, how does that translate into more revenue for your plumbing business?

Remember: These are starting points. As you answer these questions, more insights will emerge. Don't be afraid to jot down notes, even if they don't fit neatly into a category yet!

Now that you've considered the big-picture questions, it's time to get tactical. Here's a breakdown of key areas to address:

  1. Content Inventory:
    • Existing Pages: List every page on your current site. What needs updating? What can be removed? Are there critical content gaps to fill?
    • New Content: Based on your goals and target audience, what new content is needed? Blog posts, service descriptions, case studies – brainstorm a list.
  2. Sitemap:
    • Simple Sketch: Outline the hierarchy of your pages (Home, About, Services, Contact, etc.). How will they be connected in the navigation?
    • Logical Flow: Ensure visitors can easily find what they're looking for and the path to conversion (booking a service, etc.) is clear.
  3. Calls to Action (CTAs):
    • Each Page Has a Purpose: What do you want visitors to DO on each page? "Book a Consultation," "Read More," "Download Guide" – make it clear.
    • Placement Matters: CTAs should be prominent and easily clickable.
  4. Functionality & Features:
    • Must-Haves vs. Nice-to-Haves: Do you need online booking, e-commerce, a member portal, a gallery? Make a list, prioritizing what's core to your services.
    • Budget Considerations: Complex features can impact development costs.

Additional Tips

Visual Inspiration: Gather screenshots of websites you like for design elements, layout, etc. This helps your web designer understand your preferences. *Don't Forget Accessibility: Factor in accessibility best practices from the get-go so your site is inclusive

SEO Note: While SEO is a broader topic, include it in your planning. Start with basic keyword research (free tools like Google Trends) related to your services and location.

Need More Guidance?

This is a simplified overview of website planning. If these steps still feel overwhelming, that's perfectly normal! Many Fredericton small businesses benefit from collaborating with a web designer on this planning process to ensure nothing is overlooked. 

I offer a comprehensive strategy session with my services, that way I can ensure your website is fully optimized to help you reach your goals! Let’s collaborate and uplevel your small business digital strategy and online presence!

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