You need a new website, but how do you get started with your website design or redesign project? I’ve pulled together a few high-level steps, and created a downloadable cheat sheet, to help get you organized.

One thing you’ll notice, is that it looks like the “design” doesn’t happen until step 7. That’s not actually true — the design has to start at step one to lay the proper foundation. One of the biggest derailments we see with any project, is when the marketing strategy shifts mid-project. Minor shifts are generally fine, and are expected over the life of a website anyway, but if you’re selling a product, but don’t have the product ready to sell, then you’re really selling interest in your product (viability, technology, brand awareness…)

High-level Step List:

1. Know Who You Are

A company’s brand and identity can change, especially with younger companies. Reassess who you are now, and your path. Don’t try to be something you are not.

2. Understand Your Audience’s Needs

Offer what your customers need, not what you sell.  This will define your key messaging and conversions (product sales, lead capture, etc.)

3. Budget

Once you understand the potential benefit of your conversions, you can establish an ROI. Compare that to what you can budget over the next few months.

4. Form the Team

This will include the project leader, the designer, and the developer. Also know who will gather/create content, who has the hosting and domain passwords, and who will test the site.

5. Plan the Architecture

Identify markets to target, better content organization, navigation improvements. What else do you need the site to have or do? List pages (sitemap) and plan page hierarchy (wireframes.)

6. Content & S.E.O.

Copy may need editing or additions, newer photos and videos take time to create. Downloadable resources, blogs, and news all help with lead-capture and S.E.O. Create even a basic S.E.O. plan.

7. Designs Should Meet Your Goals

The design is just the icing on the wireframes. Make the site look good after it works properly.

8. Coding and CMS

Choose a content management platform that works well for you. Your site should be coded to easily allow for future changes.

9. Content Entry

All content should be ready prior to this stage. Who will enter the content? Developer or you? How is it entered? Remember S.E.O. at this stage.

10. Testing & Launch

Define what needs to be tested (forms, e-commerce, APIs), and who will test them. User testing can be done internally or with customers. Understand (technically) what it takes to launch the site early on to avoid delays at the end. Enable analytics and have a post-launch marketing plan in place to drive traffic!