It’s time to start getting a clear picture of the functional needs of your website.
Don’t skip this step of the process.
Skipping this step is how a lot of people end up with websites that they’re quickly unhappy with because it doesn’t meet their needs.
Additionally, it’s important to take this step to inform the process of choosing a website platform that will actually support your wants and needs.
Based on your website goals, your ideal customer and your website assessment, I want you to carve out some time to plan your wants and needs for your website’s features and functionality, whether that is going to take the form of updates to your existing website, or a brand new website build.
Plan Your Website Features & Functionality Needs
A good way to start this process is by making a list of all of the key pages you think you will need.
Then, note beside each of those pages what specific types of content, images, features and functionality you would ideally like to have.
- Will any galleries be required? And if so, what will those look like and how will visitors engage with them?
- Will there be a blog? And if so, are you migrating content from an old website or are you starting from scratch?
- Will you have an opt-in like a cheat sheet or a masterclass? And if so, what sort of opt-in forms will you require? Will you need any opt-in popups?
And so on.
The Website Features Cheat Sheet linked above will give you a resource to kick start your brainstorming, but please note that this list is not all encompassing and there are quite likely features or functionality you require or desire that are not on that list.
And then the Website Features Planning Worksheet will help you work through listing your desired content and features, along with fields to indicate the necessity and the timeline for each of those features.
So I want to explain those components before you dive into this exercise.
What I mean by indicating the necessity, is whether your desired content, features or functionality are must have items, or nice to have.
A nice to have item is something that you want and it would be great to have, but it’s not absolutely necessary and if it ends up being cost prohibitive or not possible with your website platform, you are prepared to skip it altogether or to push it to a future website phase.
Whereas a must have item is something that is a deal breaker. It’s something that you simply can’t launch your website without because to do so would result in a non-successful website.
It’s important to have an understanding of the necessity level of your desired features, because otherwise you could find yourself in a position where a must have isn’t possible because of other website decisions you’ve made.
For example, if it’s going to be important to add a video loop on your homepage rather than a static image, you need to know that in advance. That way, you can ensure the website building platform you select is capable of including that feature.
If you don’t plan ahead, when it comes time to add it, you may find that you can’t add it.
The other parameter to consider is the required timeline for each component.
- So, is it something you need immediately in your website?
- Is it short term, for example in the next six months?
- Or is it a long term item that you might want to add one or two years down the road?
Be mindful of thinking about those feature needs and necessity levels in terms of what you want your website to be right this moment, as well as down the road.
Your goals and needs for your website when you initially launch may be very different than your future needs.
If you build your site without thinking through what you may need it to do in a year’s time, then you’re likely going to back yourself into a corner, where the only way out is to build a new site from scratch.
If you are looking for something temporary and you know that you’ll be building a brand new website in a year or two anyways, then this step is perhaps less important.
However, for most small business owners, building a website is a costly process, in terms of time, or budget, or both.
You Need to Plan Ahead!
Which is why, before you start diving into anything else to do with your website, you need to spend some time brainstorming what your short-term and longer term requirements are for your website.
This will take time and effort. It’s why I think so many new business owners skip this step, planning ahead will reduce the chances of finding yourself with a brand new website that, in six months, isn’t capable of performing functions you want it to do.
If you were building a brand new house; you will need to design that home with your eventual needs in mind if you don’t want to have to start over later.
If you only need two bedrooms now but you know that you will need a third bedroom in a couple of years, you plan for that in advance and factor that into the planning.
Businesses change and evolve and you won’t be able to know everything you’ll need in the future, but if you complete this process, you’ll certainly reduce the potential for website problems in the future.
Your next step is to download a copy of the Website Features Cheat Sheet & Planning Worksheet and carve out some time on your calendar to work through the process I’ve outlined in this video and article.