The Comprehensive Guide to Website Design Plans: Steps, Checklists, and Examples

The Comprehensive Guide to Website Design Plans: Steps, Checklists, and Examples

The website planning process is an essential part of web design. It helps you to figure out what you want your website to do for your business, and how it will differ from other websites in its industry. This blog post will walk through the steps of website planning, provide specific examples, and discuss how to build a website planning checklist. We hope that this information will be helpful as you plan your next project!

We’ll cover the following in this article:

What is website planning?

Website planning steps

Building a website planning checklist

Finding your target audience

What makes you different?

Selecting a platform to build your website on

Buy or Build your visual elements


What is Website Planning?

Website planning is the process of determining what your website should be based on its purpose for existing, this is an important element of your website strategy. It helps you answer questions like “What are my goals?” and “How will this website support them?” Some other questions to consider when creating a plan include, but are not limited to:

  • What do I want people who visit my website to do?
  • What is my target market and how can I best communicate with them through this website?
  • How will what I want people to do on the site support or align with my business goals?

There are several factors that you should consider when creating a website plan. In order for your website project to be successful, it’s important that these elements flow together harmoniously throughout the planning stages. For example, if you have very specific purposes in mind for every page of your site but only one main goal overall then there may be some disconnect within your plan. Or maybe you don’t think about who’s going to build the website until after all of your plans are complete – not a great idea! You’ll need to determine what you want your website to do, how it should look and who will build the site before getting into the nitty gritty stuff about coding.

Website Planning Steps

Here are the basic steps to planning a website.

  • Determine what you want your website to do for your business, and how it will differ from other websites in its industry.
  • Figure out who is going to build or design this site (if not yourself), and make sure they understand all of the elements that need to be incorporated into each page. You need strong site architecture.
  • Don’t forget about SEO! Your developer should know best practices when it comes to search engine optimization so don’t assume he knows everything – just because someone specializes in one area doesn’t mean they have expertise across the board.
  • Come up with the specific pages that you will need for your website. You can do this by looking at other websites in your industry and figuring out what they have on their site. Also note which sites are missing certain things – this is where you can plan to be innovative!
  • Determine how many pages each section of your website should contain, like “About Us”, “Blog” or “Contact.” (This part may not be necessary if there aren’t any sections.) To give yourself an idea about what goes into making a page here’s some basic information: Each web page needs to include several key elements , including but not limited to keywords relevant to the content, meta descriptions/t/meta titles, page descriptions and headings.
  • Make a list of what you want each page to accomplish for your business, including the keywords that should be included on each page.
  • Decide who will handle customer service/questions – do they have an email or phone number?
  • You’ll need to decide how many external links should be included in each section – is there enough information about other sites related to what you want people doing here? Note: It’s best when possible to link back internally when posting content externally because this provides more value within search engine results (and makes it easier for readers to navigate back within the site).

Building a Website Planning Checklist

Depending on the type of business that you have or industry that you’re in, there are different factors that may be important for your website plan. You can use this sample checklist as a guide when creating yours:

Target Market

Who is going to be using my website? What do they need from me? How would I describe them if I met them at a networking event? Think buyer personas here!

Goals & Objectives

Why does my company exist? What three things must we achieve with our digital presence? (e.g. Increase brand awareness, increase sales leads and improve online customer service)


What image do I want to project? How will my website reflect that look and feel? Taking into account color palette, typography and imagery styles in your plan is important for cohesion throughout the site. The style should seamlessly transition from page to page keeping visitors engaged with engaging content!

Content Strategy

How will we fill our website with relevant information for users? Keep in mind who you are targeting so you know what type of language to use when writing content. Is there a specific tone or voice that needs to be used through out all pages? Or maybe it’s best if each landing page has its own unique “voice” since each page should have a different purpose. What content management system will you use?

Technical Requirements

What are some of the must haves for our site to function properly and look good across all devices (laptop, desktop computer, tablet and phone)? This includes things like how many images per page we need based on wireframes and what kind of video format is best given any limitations that may exist due to hosting platforms (and don’t forget site security). These technical components can make or break what you want to achieve with your website.

These factors don’t need to exist in alignment 100% during every project but they do need enough consideration website creation process so that they can be cohesive through and through.

Finding Your Target Audience

To begin, you will want to know who your target audience is and what kind of content they like. This can be as simple as starting with a brainstorming session or it could require more research (depending on the business). For example, if you are in the restaurant business your target audience is likely people looking for restaurants to dine at.

You may also need some third party data for insight into your customers’ interests if you don’t already have this information. If you are a local business, this should be pretty easy to do.

If your company is larger and operates on the national or global level like for example, it may not even make sense to think about targeting specific audiences anymore since they have such broad reach (in which case their website would need content that fulfills many.

Tip: publish hyper targeted landing pages to see where you receive the most conversions. This will help you find your target audience faster. Make sure to include strong calls to action.

What Makes You Different?

What sets your website apart from the competition? What makes you unique or different than others in your industry? You will want to consider this when building out your site. For example, if you are a luxury hotel offering something that no other hotels offer (like an incredible spa facility), then make sure this is highlighted on your website!

You can find distinctions within both design and content. For example, web designers often use bold color palettes for websites targeting younger audiences whereas more traditional businesses may prefer conservative tones with classic lines throughout their site design. Content should also be differentiated by speaking directly to each target market’s needs based on what they’ll gain from using it which reflects company’s strategy put into action through specific messaging .

Selecting a Platform To Build Your Website On

When it comes to selecting a web development platform, there are many options available. The most popular platforms used today include WordPress , Squarespace and Wix . These three solutions let you build your website yourself which is great if you don’t have the budget for professional help or want full control of what your site looks like end-to-end. While you are still responsible for writing the content that will be published on your website, these tools let you build it without knowing how to code or have a web developer by your side.

Larger companies typically prefer custom-built websites since they can integrate with other systems and generally provide more functionality than what currently exists in the marketplace (especially when you are starting out). For example, larger enterprises may prefer to build their own platform (or hire a web development firm) for security reasons since they will want it designed exactly how they like and guarantee that no other companies can access any of the information.

This is important if your company has intellectual property or proprietary data that should be protected. Also, custom built sites can be customized to specific industries so that it is compliant with local and federal laws.

Tip: The popular brands listed above aren’t your only options. If you’re looking to monetize via a premium newsletter or sponsored ads, Ghost and Substack are excellent options for minimalist (yet trendy) blogs.

Buying vs. Building Your Visual Elements

Design elements can be bought or created. You may want to consider buying certain site elements if you don’t have the time, resources or funds for building them yourself (or simply prefer an off-the-shelf solution). Typically website templates are available either via premium marketplaces like Themeforest and Templatemonster , which provides great design quality for a fair price, or via free marketplaces like Creative Market and Dribble.

What About Analytics?

There are different types of analytics you can use to track your website’s performance. Google Analytics is the most popular solution used by companies today but there are others available including Adobe Sitecatalyst , Mint , Kissmetrics and Tableau . Whichever you choose, make sure to set it up as soon as possible so that you can monitor your website’s performance and gain insights into how visitors are engaging with the site. Setup can be slightly tricky, depending on your web development platform, but it’s worth the time and effort to make sure this is in place. Do some reading on tracking pixels if you aren’t already familiar. Below are a few tips for reading:

  • tracking codes and pixels
  • Google search console
  • keyword research, organic search, and general SEO tools (this is important for SEO strategy)


There is a lot of information available and it can be overwhelming. But if you follow the steps we outlined, your website will stand out from competitors and provide real value to customers – while showcasing your company’s brand in exactly the right way.

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