So, you’re planning a website project. Whether it is a redesign of part of your existing website, a complete website redesign, or a brand new website, you’ll want to set your website project up for success and avoid any costly surprises along the way.
Website planning process
The process for website projects is similar to building a house. When you build a house, your architect first asks what you want your house to look like, how big it should be, the rooms you want in it, and when construction needs to be completed, all before any actual construction begins. Similarly, website planning documentation is needed upfront before any building of a website begins.
Website planning documentation
Website planning documentation articulates the project’s goals, objectives, and tactics. It outlines constraints, such as deadlines or technical constraints, and can include information related to the team involved with the project. Depending on the scope of the website project, designers and/or developers use this documentation to plan the design and/or development of the website and create an accurate quote for the project.
Below is an overview of information you could include in your website planning documentation. Of course, if any of the topics don’t apply to your project, then you could skip those topics. Remember, the goal of the documentation is to provide designers and/or developers an accurate description of your needs and the constraints of the project so that your website project will be as successful as possible.
Information to include in your website planning documentation:
- About your company – What is your company’s background and history? What do you do or sell?
- Decision makers involved in the project – names, job titles, project roles, contact information
- Problem you are trying to solve – Why is this project needed?
- High-level project scope – Is this a redesign of part of the existing website? Complete website redesign? Brand new website?
- Target market – Who will be using this website? What do you want them to do on your website?
- List technology on your existing website – CMS, plugins, analytics, blogging platform, CRM, ecommerce, page builders, LMS, marketing automation, payment processors, etc.
- List the goals of the project – Specific, measurable, assignable, realistic, time-related
- List the phases of the entire project if this website project is part of a larger project
- Give guidance on desired stylistic direction and constraints
- Brand guidelines – colors, fonts, logos, other graphics
- Analysis of competition – What do you like and dislike about their websites?
- Give examples of websites you like and dislike and why
- Compile a list of keywords and key phrases you think your website visitors would use to find your website
- List relevant domain names for this project and how they will be used – Would changing any of these domains impact other areas of your business? Do you have access to the domain registration info? Do you require additional domain names for this project? Who will secure them?
Features and Functionality
- List and explain required features and functionality of the website
- List 3rd party integrations that are required – Who will source the 3rd party integrations? What has been done to ensure that any 3rd party integrations that have already been selected provide the features and functionality required?
- List any data that needs to be carried over
- List any website analytics requirements
- List specific accessibility requirements
Ongoing Support and Maintenance
- Outline your maintenance and support requirements once the project is complete
- List your assumptions about who is responsible for certain tasks – Who do you assume will be responsible for content addition/edits, copywriting, migration of the website, ongoing maintenance, SEO, hosting, etc.?
- State any deadlines for the project – When do you need to go live?
Get the download!
Our free downloadable website planning template includes the previous topics and allows you to easily fill in your information. Use it as a Microsoft Word Document or import it into your Google Docs. By using our free website planning template, you and whomever is building your website can build a strong foundation.