Website Planning II: Scope

When you’re planning a website, know what you want – and what you can get – out of a web project.

In Planning a Website I, I talked about whether it was worth building a new site or even doing a redesign. Assuming you do want to go forward with a new project, here are a few more things to think about before you start making mood boards and writing cheques.


What is your budget?

Ah, everyone’s favourite subject. It’s important to get money matters off of the table straight away, though. As a developer, I need to know if your budget is in line with your expectations. You should have one number in mind for initial construction, and another for your ongoing needs. Apart from hosting and technical support, it’s also worthwhile having a long-term relationship with your web partner for help with strategy and content.

What is your inspiration?

The most effective way to communicate your design ideas is to do it with visual examples. What other websites, advertisements, photos, even pieces of art have you come across that have inspired you? Centralize them and share them with your design team as well as any other project stakeholders. Remember, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel here, nor does all of your inspiration need to come from within. (Just don’t rip off your competitor, or you’ll get busted for it.)

Who is your audience?

Your target audience must define the direction and resources of your entire Web project. Who are your high-value clients and prospects? What are their needs? More importantly, what do you need from them? Set specific goals and calls-to-action for them to take.

Who are your competitors?

Make a list of your online competitors. What do they do well? What do you want to do better? As with any brick-and-mortar business, you need to differentiate yourself – in this case, so that you can draw targeted traffic and dominate specific search results.

Does it all make sense?

I’ve lost a few clients, and a few friends, by telling them that their idea is stupid – and believe me, I’ve also been on the receiving end of that advice. But as a web developer, it’s far worse for a project to bomb, than, say, to not get paid for it. Your client isn’t happy, you’re not happy, and your reputation suffers, since nothing truly goes away on the Web. So run your ideas by everyone you know, or at least, everyone you think will give you an honest opinion (family members are great for that). Only then can you accurately gauge how realistic your expectations are.

Web projects are complex, and the possibilities are truly endless. That’s why we’ve developed a new website planning guide for our clients, which you can download for free.

No matter which developer you choose, make sure it’s one you’re comfortable communicating with, so that the brilliant website you have in your brain has a better chance of becoming a reality.