Spend time planning.

Planning is arguably the most important part of any project. Understand what is being asked, what’s needed and what’s the right approach through discovery sessions, site reviews, etc. Most importantly talk to everyone involved (including end users) to get a comprehensive understanding of the client and the project.


  • A mix of meetings, questionnaires, workshops and conversations
  • Discovery allows you to gather information which will inform the planning
  • Include key personnel and end users to ensure comprehensive input
  • Often reveals other areas which need investigation

Discovery sessions are a great way to get everyone engaged with the process”

Top Level

  • What are you trying to achieve
  • Why do you want to do this
  • What is the timescale
  • What are your budget expectations
  • What will success look like

Refer back to the top level objectives though out the project to help keep focus”


  • Who are your users – create user personas
  • Where are they – locality / language / bandwidth
  • Preferred platform – mobile / desktop / tablet
  • How will you reach them – SEO / advertising / editorial / word of mouth (influencers)

Most clients don’t spend enough time thinking about the needs of their users”


What do you want users to do on the site:

  • Browse – discover / understand / inspire
  • Engage – contact / sign up
  • Transact – buy / book
  • Return – repeat customer / ad revenue

Understanding user intent (or what you want users to do) will inform decisions about design and content”


  • What is your current site doing well / badly
  • What is it not doing that you want it to do
  • Are you happy with your branding / identity

A new website can be a good time to refresh your branding, treat it as a separate (but related) project”


  • What are the key messages
  • What content / imagery exists
  • Who will produce content that doesn’t exist

Use a copywriter if there is no one in house who has the time or confidence to write the content”


  • Subscribe – email newsletters
  • Forms – contact / enquiry / survey
  • E-Commerce – products / services
  • E-Booking – accommodation / event / tour / class / hire
  • Payment – credit cards / PayPal epos
  • Integrations – data / functionality
  • Membership – member area / management
  • Donations – gift aid / regular
  • Mapping – single or multipoint / location aware
  • Support – ticketing / live chat

Map out the user journey and site manager workflow to pin down functional requirements”


  • A single point of contact will improve the process for everyone
  • Who will manage the site once it’s live
  • What is their experience, understanding or enthusiasm
  • Do you have an existing back office process the site needs to feed into

A new website won’t solve your resource issues”


  • Site map
  • Information hierarchy
  • Product or event relationships

A good site map should organise the content with the end user in mind”


Create wireframes informed by the planning process to define screen areas:

  • Header (global) – logo / navigation / contact / search
  • Pages (types) – home / section / listing / page / post
  • Content (elements) – columns  / panels / text / images / call to action
  • Functionality – the user journey
  • Footer (global) – social / legal

Wireframes allow you to define layouts for different page types and devices without getting drawn into discussions about design or content”


  • Think about your audience
  • Look at other sites in the sector
  • What visual assets do you have?
  • What do you want users to do?

If users are motivated to buy your product, access your service or read your content they will forgive bad design. For everyone else you have to try harder”