10 Golden Rules of Site Planning

As a writer and senior marketer at various companies I’ve developed my own rules – some of which are unique – for helping to make sure that every website I am involved in is easy to use, clear as can be, and user- and search engine-friendly.

When Planning Projects, here are some of the rules I follow:

  1. Understand the business before you start to plan the site.
  2. Organize the site around user goals – and along logical (to the consumer) lines. The client is boss but the user is king. You want them to quickly grasp who and what you are, and offer.
  3. Spend a LONG time planning the home page. It is the most important page (I sometimes go through 5 or 6 drafts of the homepage plan).
  4. Keep the main site navigation to 5-7 items whenever possible. Extra sections can often be moved to a separate tool nav area.  This helps the site seem uncluttered and provides clarity.
  5. Where possible, use meaningful navigation titles instead of generics. It’s a good way to communicate your offering since everyone reads the navigation titles.
  6. No matter what other goals you have, the Home page needs to be excellent at these 3 things: showing what you are, telling what you are, and entice the user to move through to another page.
  7. Also use links and subtitles to get the key messages out quickly.
  8. Focus each page around a unique idea, service, or product offering – this is good for clarity, as well as for your SEO.
  9. Ensure that both visuals and titles work together to create a strong and clear message.
  10. People are visual. No matter what you are promoting, good visuals will help – sometimes they make a crucial difference. (I’m a writer, but I’m a communicator first.)

I stopped at 10 but could easily have gone on.

These are just some of my rules (in no particular order).

One of the keys to planning any site is to also make the structure SEO-friendly.  It’s frustrating to see sites that are built without any thought to SEO, and sometimes difficult to change them once they are built.



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