Last Updated: September 11, 2023
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The key to building a successful website actually starts with planning.
I know you may be eager to jump right into the design phase, but this would be putting the cart before the horse. Our goal is not to put a little bit of lipstick on your current site, our goal is to rethink the entire strategy so that your website actually does the heavy lifting for your business.
I want you to think about building your website like you’re hiring an employee in the marketing and sales department.
If you were writing the job description to find the perfect candidate, you wouldn’t start by listing out the person’s physical characteristics, right?
Imagine writing, “the ideal candidate for this position should have blonde hair, green eyes, and be 5 foot 3 inches tall.” That would be ludicrous.
Why? Because you’d hire someone who might look pretty but is incompetent and lacks the skills required to deliver results that meet your business objectives.
Your website is the same way.
If we start with design, we may miss the mark on user intent, customer journey, SEO, site structure and navigation, conversion, and more.
So let’s skip the part where we make a pretty website that looks good but doesn’t do anything for your business. Let’s get right into planning and strategizing instead.
Step 1. Understand The Point Of Your Website
You’re in business to provide solutions to your customers’ problems. That means your website should serve two main purposes:
- To help your visitor research solutions to their problem.
- To help your visitor buy a product or service that solves their problem.
When it comes to creating website copy and design decisions, meeting your customers’ needs and desires should be the only priority.
Aren’t sure what your ideal client’s needs are desires are? Check out this post: How to Identify Your Ideal Client in 4 Easy Steps + FREE Worksheet
As we go through the planning stage, I want you to use this question as your filter for making wise website-related decisions: “does this help my visitor research or buy from my blog/ business?”
Step 2. Determine Your Monetization Strategy
What are your customers going to buy from you?
In this step, you need to decide how you plan to make money with your website. Go through the list below and decide which methods to implement into your website.
You can have multiple monetization methods! In fact, the more you can diversify your income, the stronger your business will be because if one stream dries up, you have others supporting your business.
However, if you’re just starting out and choosing your monetization path feels overwhelming, just pick one thing. Once you’ve mastered that one avenue, then you can consider adding another revenue stream.
Step 3. Determine Your Content Marketing Strategy
How can customers research the answers to their problems on your website?
I recommend sharing long-form content that you create on a regular basis. Go through the list below and decide which methods to implement into your new website.
Once you decide on the type of long-form content you want to produce, then decide on a regular publishing schedule. Predictability and consistency breeds trust with your audience. Whether it’s once a month, once every two weeks, once a week, or daily – choose a frequency that you can stick to consistently!
📌 Can’t commit to a consistent posting schedule? I still want you to write blog posts whenever you can. Technically, Google doesn’t care if you’re consistent, they just want to deliver the best content on the internet for their searcher’s query. If you can write high-quality pieces of content that are optimized for search engines, these can still rank and drive traffic to your website even if they’re posted sporadically!
Step 4. Choose Your Website Pages / Decide Your Information Architecture
Next, I want you to write down the pages you’ll need on your website. Typically, most websites need the following pages:
These pages make up a basic website structure.
There are additional pages you may want to add to your website, which will depend on the type of blog or business you run. I’ll guide you through a few scenarios below, so you can decide which pages to include or exclude on your own site.
🔥 Be An Essentialist.
It can be tempting to dream big in the planning phase and wind up with an outline for a 20+ page website. Most content creators and small businesses just don’t need that. Start with the essential pages only.
As you think about every web page, ask yourself, “why do we need this page? How does this serve our audience and help them achieve their desired outcome with our business?” You can always add more pages to your site as your business evolves over time. Keep it simple to start.
📚 If you haven’t read Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown, add it to your reading list! It’s a good one.
If you are getting paid to recommend other people’s products, you may want to add the following pages:
Tools/ Resources Page – If you get frequent questions about what tools or products you recommend, consider creating one page that includes a description of all of your favorites in one place! Want an example? Check out my tools & resources page!
If you are a blogger, YouTuber, or podcaster, consider adding these pages to your site:
Press/ media page – If you are featured in news outlets, magazines, podcasts, or other media channels, you can include all of the places you’ve been featured along with your official media bio and headshots.
Sponsorship/ Brand Deals/ Advertise With Us Page – If you work with brands, you may want to include a page that details your audience size, the value of working with your business along with pricing and packages.
If you provide services either online or in-person, these pages are helpful:
Services Page (Overview) – If you are a service-based business that wants to book out your services, you need a services page. This page is an overview of all services you provide. Hierarchically, this is considered the parent page (..com/services).
Single Service Pages – If you have multiple service offerings, you may also want to have a page for each individual service offering. These pages would be child pages that are housed under the services page like this ..com/services/consulting
Call Scheduler Page – If you like to schedule discovery calls with prospects to see if they’re a good fit for your service before they commit, consider adding a call scheduler page. You can embed a scheduling tool like Dubsado or Calendly onto the page and other relevant details about what to expect on the call.
Pricing Page – If you have a single offer with different pricing plans, you could display the pricing on your sales page, but it might also make sense to have a separate pricing page.
Portfolio/ Showcase Page – If you can showcase any before-and-afters of your work, you may want to include a portfolio page or showcase page.
Gallery Page – If you’re a creative service-based business, you may also want a gallery page to show off your photography, art, etc.
Testimonials or Reviews Page – Social proof is crucial for service-based business owners. I typically recommend sprinkling client feedback on every page throughout your website, but if you have an abundance of reviews, you may want to add a dedicated testimonials page or reviews page.
If you are selling products in your online shop, you’ll need:
Shop Page (…com/shop) – This will display an archive of all of your products
Cart Page (…com/cart) – This is where users can adjust the items in their virtual shopping cart before they checkout.
Checkout page (…com/checkout) – This is where the user will process their payment.
Order Confirmation Page – This is what shows after the customer successfully completes their purchase. It includes a summary of their order details and can include instructions about what to expect next.
My Account Page (…com/my-account) – If users can create an account on your site, you’ll also need a “my account” page. The “my account” page will allow users to save their payment information, review past orders, update billing info, etc.
Product Categories – I would also recommend listing out any product categories and sub-categories. For example, you might sell journals, calendars, and accessories. Under accessories, the user can find all of your sticker collections and pens. These are not technically pages; they’re product categories, but it’s still helpful to have this outlined for your website navigation structure.
E-Commerce Info Pages -You may want to include additional info pages, such as:
Lead Magnet Sign-up Pages – This page offers a helpful resource in exchange for a prospect’s email address so you can market to them long after they’ve left your website. Lead magnets can be checklists, 5-day email series on a specific topic, templates, or other similar downloadable assets.
Thank You Pages – This is the page your user will land on after they sign up for your lead magnet. You can tell them what to expect next, like “go check your email to confirm you asked to be on this list,” or use it as a way to keep your user on your website and point them to other relevant information.
Tripwire Pages – Tripwire pages are one-time offers you put in front of a prospect after they sign up for your email list. So instead of going to a thank you page, you should present a highly discounted offer to them instead to convert them to a client and get them into your funnel.
Sales Pages Pages – Sales pages are long pages that sell a particular product or service. These are often used to sell courses, memberships, digital product bundles, or higher-end services.
Locations Pages – If you are a local business with one location, you can simply put your address in the footer and on the contact page. If you have multiple locations, you may want to include a locations page.
You may also want to consider adding these pages as well:
Staff or Team Page – Some businesses may want to include more company information. Most of the time, this isn’t necessary, and a section about your team members can be included on the primary about page, but for larger businesses, a separate page can make sense.
Career or Jobs Page – This page can, at minimum, share the most recent job listings with instructions on how to apply. You can also turn this into a sales page highlighting why candidates should apply to work with your company.
Partners or Preferred Vendors Page – If you work with industry partners or preferred vendors, you may want a separate page that provides more details.
Events Page – If you host frequent in-person or virtual events, you may need a page (or plugin) that displays your upcoming events.
Social Links Page – If you do a lot of social media marketing on Instagram or TikTok, you’ll need a page on your website that is a landing page with relevant/ recent links to the things you share on social media.
Once you have your monetization plan, content strategy, and sitemap outlined, your next steps are to write the copy for each web page and begin the website design and development process!
There are a lot of moving pieces when it comes to creating a WordPress website – from theme changes, plugin updates, strategic page layouts, site speed, and more! If you are an established blogger or online business looking to hire a professional web designer, I’d love the opportunity to partner with you. Check out my WordPress Website Design services to see how I can help you simplify the process and take the burden off your shoulders.
If you’re not quite ready to work with a designer but still want some guidance from a pro as you build your own WordPress website, check out the DIY Dream Site membership. You’ll get the website templates, tutorials, and coaching you need every month to launch your own website and promote your business online – without breaking the bank.