When’s the best time to start your business website plan?

lady mapping out user goals for a business on a piece of paper

Having a website plan for your business is the most important way to guarantee your success. So when should you start the planning process?

The answer is at the very beginning.

That seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it? At the beginning means:

  • Before designers
  • Before developers
  • Before search engine optimizers
  • Before any social or paid marketing teams

The real planning for your website should begin in-house and requires the business (client if you’re an agency/freelancer) to do the initial work. To understand why you need to think about the core principles behind the reasons for creating a Website Plan.

For any business, there are numerous questions you need to resolve?

  • How do we get the best return on investment?
  • Who are we trying to serve?
  • What are their needs?
  • Are you offering something that meet those needs?
  • How can you best deliver on it?

These address issues that aren’t technical, nor visual. You don’t need a website designer to help you determine what business is about.

If you follow the process in our Complete Website Planning Guide, you will develop these topics into a plan that you can then use to get the most out of your teams.

The Complete Website Planning Guide Book Cover
Planning Guide Workbook Cover

A common approach from agencies is to include a scoping component to their quote so that they can get the contract first. The flaw in this approach is that you have both committed to a fee based on unknown factors.

That’s like getting a flat rate to build a three-bedroom house without the blueprints and inclusions list. Not all three-bedroom houses are alike.

There are many risks in this method:

  1. You pay more than you need to
  2. You don’t pay enough, and you won’t get everything you need (see the next point)
  3. The scope you get could be steered to match the amount you’ve already committed to
  4. You’ll end up in unresolvable arguments about the gap between what you think you’re getting and what you get
  5. The agency/developer commits to something less than what you want, meaning they either have to charge more or don’t deliver on what you want

The best practice for everyone should be to demand that there’s a quality briefing process done before any contract is signed. Any website contract should include everything that will be delivered, and only what you agreed to.

Any business owner or executive running the project should be able to review the website plan, that the contract is based on, and check off everything that you asked for has been built.

Why doesn’t this happen? Time and Cost.

It takes time to get your plan built and that costs money, either the cost of your time or the cost of paying to have it done for you.

In my website development business, we quote and deliver website plans (scopes) for a fee, before quoting on the development work. The plan should also be able to be used to get competitive quotes from other developers. The charge for our expertise ensures our clients get a website scoping document that’s independent of needing us to deliver it.

The moment you think you need a new website is the best time to start planning. You don’t need to be a technical person or even a marketing specialist. The key to your business having a better website is you investing the time (and money) to detail what your business needs and then getting the experts to help deliver it and enhance it.


Photo by Amanda Jones on Unsplash

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