How to Plan a Website

When you plan a website there are certain key steps you should take. You should take these steps in order. When doing these website planning steps, if you find that one step of your plan doesn't work with the others, adjust them until they do. This article will discuss the first four of these key steps:

  • What's the Goal?
  • Choose a Niche
  • Research Topics for Content
  • Create a 3 Tier Site Structure
  • Decide on the Look and Feel
  • Choose a Domain Name
  • Choose a Web Host

To read about the other three steps of the website planning process see: Final Steps to Plan a Website.

Related article: Build Your Own Website.

What's the Goal?

When you plan a website clarify what you want to do with it. You should already have a general idea of the goal. State the goal in one sentence. Write it down. Here are some examples so you get the idea:

  • I want to make money selling pottery.
  • I want to start a club for dog lovers.
  • I want to help a local business.
  • I want to share my religion.

Choose a Niche

The goal you chose above is probably too general to be workable at this stage. Narrow it down a bit. Choose a niche that is based on the goal you selected above. It needs to be focused and interesting to other people. Don't get the whole "niche" thing? See these three articles to get you up to speed:

Discover Topics for Content

You want to attract visitors to your site with really valuable content (information). To learn what information people in your niche are searching for you need to do keyword research. New to keyword research? See: Keyword Research.

Bottom line is that if you use the free keyword research tools mentioned in the article above, you will discover many keywords that people are searching for in your chosen niche. Each keyword will be the subject of one of the articles that you will write about on your site.

By the end of this step you should have a list of keywords people are searching for related to your niche.

Create a 3 Level Site Structure

Use the keywords discovered above as the subjects of ALL the pages in your 3 Level Site Structure. In the following image, Level 1 is the Home Page, Level 2 is the topics level (topic 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 etc.) and Level 3 is the articles level (article 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 etc.). In this site structure you can go as high as 15 topics and as high as 15 articles in each topic. After that it's best if you start another site.

A Three Level Site Blueprint

Your Home Page (Level 1) will focus on your main keyword - your site niche. For instance if your website niche was "football players" your Home Page would be written on the subject of "football players". Your Home Page will link to each Level 2 topic page.

Each topic page (Level 2) will focus on one of the keywords found above. These topic pages tend to be general in nature. They also tend to form a topic within your niche. In the "fooball players" website niche above, some of the possible topic pages could be "good quarterbacks", "quick centers", "tough linebackers", etc. or whatever is in your keyword list. A topic page will link to the article pages (Level 3) that are within that topic and to the Home Page (Level 1).

Each article page (Level 3) will focus on a keyword that is a specific example of the topic that is linking to it. In our site about football players, a good keyword for a topic might be "good quarterbacks". The articles under the subject of "good quarterbacks" could be "brett favre", eli manning, donovan mcnabb, or any other quarterback in your keyword list. Article pages (Level 2) link back to their specific topic page and to the Home Page (Level 1).

There are several steps to plan a website. The first 4 steps were covered above. See the other steps here: Final Steps to Plan a Website.

Website Building Tip

For a beginning website builder it is very important to plan your website.

If you are smart you will make keyword research the foundation of your website planning.