Designing a new website is similar to planning for a trip — only with much higher stakes and usually a much higher price tag. You know where you want to land, but you can’t leave without packing your suitcase. All that prep work is a vital part of the website-building process. Here are a few things you won’t want to forget before you get ready for takeoff: 

Do your research: Checking out the competitors 

Before you leave, you’ll want some background on the best spots in town. Where is the best lobster? Is there a hidden local beach with a waterfall? Did you just say that hotel is haunted?! (No thank you.) Looking at reviews and recommendations can help you plan the perfect vacation. 

Before you decide what’s best for your new website, make sure you check out your competitors. That means reviewing the best, mediocre, and worst of your competition. There are opportunities to be found in what the competition does successfully, and also what they’re missing. 

Pick the right shampoo for you: Rank for relevant keywords

The hotel shampoo is fine, but to cater to all hair types, its made-for-everyone formula is likely cheap and not crafted for your needs. By day three, when your curly mane has become a frizzy mess, you’ll be wishing you had the shampoo you know works for you. 

Similarly, when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), your website may show up on Google and get clicks, but there are a lot of potential customers you could be missing by simply making some small copy tweaks. Knowing what those changes include — keywords for your industry, title tags, and meta descriptions — your website can reach its full potential. 

Your carefully-selected shoes: The personas

If you have a huge shoe wardrobe like myself, decisions have to be made when packing. While you might love all 30 pairs of colored stilettos, if you’re hiking for four days you’ll opt to bring hiking boots and flip flops instead. Knowing the activities on the trip allows you to select the best shoes for your trip.

Of course you want everyone to visit your website. But planning for everyone is like trying to pack shoes for every possible occasion in a carry on bag — it just doesn’t work. Instead, focus on the top type of users you serve: the personas. Building three to five user personas allows you to focus on the important details and serve your audience effectively.

Outfits for every occasion: The site map and page inventory

Each and every outfit you’ve packed deserves its own Instagram photo. Packing outfits for each of the activities you preplanned ensures your suitcase has met all your wardrobe needs.

Just as you have multiple outfits for each day, your website has multiple pages. Each page has different information and serves your company in different ways. Mapping your current site shows what information your site contains and if there is content missing. You’ll want to ensure your site flows so that every user coming to your site finds what they are looking for and wants to do business with you.

Don’t forget your underwear: The CMS 

Please don’t forget these or you will be rerouting your Uber from the airport to the nearest Target. This item is personal — you need it every day, but many people don’t see it. 

This is a lot like your site’s content management system (CMS). You need to know what you’re working with, ensure it will be easy for your team to get the hang of. 

Just imagine if you booked a trip without doing any of the prep work. It can make traveling a lot more stressful. Plus, you might wonder after the trip if you picked the right hotel or saw all the attractions you wanted to. No matter how spontaneous a traveler you are, a little preparation can go a long way. 

That’s why prep work is critical to the website building process. Making sure you have everything you need, from personas to site maps, will ensure the best website for your company. Want some extra help along the way? Let the Ample team be your travel guides. From web design to development to content marketing, check out all our capabilities

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