Before you Start a Website

Why do you Want a Website?

Lots of people rush to start a website. Without thinking clearly about why they’re doing it. Strangely, I find this common with many business owners. Who approach me because they want a website. But as soon as I start the planning process it becomes clear that they don’t know what the purpose of that website should be.

Why Plan Your Website?

I always start by defining the purpose of my website. Then I can relate the purpose of each page to this. Because this is the first thing a quality reviewer will consider before they decide how to rank the quality of your website and individual pages[1].

The importance of planning and purpose is emphasized in many studies of website success. Including the BWD (Balanced Website Design) methodology[2].

Poorly designed websites, lacking focus and purposeful design, are at best of minimal use and time-wasting and at worst damaging and financially corrosive.

Why Not Plan Your Website?

However, you might have good reasons for not spending time planning your website…

The only reason not to study and take up a structured design approach is if you are already
• entirely happy with the design of your websites,
• entirely confident that you have a tried, trusted, and consistent approach to satisfy all (website) needs, and
• entirely satisfied that your site users/clients are impressed by your websites and the design approach.

Personally, I add a 4th reason for not planning a structured approach – “Testing the waters!” That is, explore a subject before making a commitment. In particular, I find this useful when I want to know more about a subject in general terms. Rather than researching and developing well-defined topics. But I will describe this in separate articles. Because I want this article to focus on planning as part of a structured website startup routine. Anyway, even unstructured projects have a purpose. If only to “learn as much as I can about widget processing”.

Why do you Want a Website (courtesy martinbauer.com)

Plan Your Website with Purpose

Interestingly, there is a common view that only businesses consider website purpose. Then that purpose is simply to convert visitor numbers into prospects. To an extent, this seems fair. Also, it’s readily adaptable to non-business sectors such as education, politics, community, and voluntary websites. But I think this misses the point.

Because website traffic conversion is important. In fact, it’s often the make-or-break measure of a website’s success. But traffic conversion is secondary to purpose. Otherwise, you risk collecting a bunch of prospects who never add value. So I’ll look at measuring, monitoring, and improving outcomes such as traffic conversion in later articles.

For now, think about what you want from your website that is more than just your prospect’s contact details. Then look at competitor’s sites and try to discern their purpose. Finally, compile your own Website Purpose Statement as your first step in your new website project.

Note that your Purpose Statement is always subject to revision. Because as you pass various milestones in your website development you gain new perspectives. So I recommend regular reviews of your website purpose. Especially during periods of change such as this startup period. But for now, it’s important to write something meaningful that will inspire you to launch your site as soon as you need to.

Are you having trouble starting your website purpose statement? Or perhaps you just want reassurance you’re on the right track. If so please share your questions, experiences, or opinions about starting a website in the Feedback Form below.


Before you Start a Website References

  1. Ray, Lily. “Google’s algorithm undergoes enormous shifts to prioritise content focused on expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness.” Journal of Digital & Social Media Marketing 7, no. 2 (2019): 128-136.
  2. Lawrence, Dave, and Soheyla Tavakol. Balanced website design: optimising aesthetics, usability and purpose. Springer Science & Business Media, 2006.