Designing and laying out the pages of a website isn't just about what you think looks right, or about what everybody else does. It requires strategic thinking. If you strategically organize your website, you'll make it more effective and see better results.
Starting with the Goal in Mind
To strategically design a website, start with the end goal in mind. This should be the goal for your visitor. What specific action do you want your website visitor to take? Examples include:
- Purchasing a product
- Purchasing a service
- Signing up for an email list
- Spending time reading or learning
- Applying for a job
- Donating to charity or investing money
- Entering your sales funnel
- Contributing content or something creative
This specific action will guide all of the rest of your website planning.
Make It Focused
Strategic design involves making a website highly focused. You don't want pages and elements that get in the way or distract from the goal of the website. Each page or element needs to have a specific purpose in aiding you toward that goal.
For example, you may want to create a resources page for your website. However, this page is full of external links that lead the visitor off your site. If your goal is to provide content and keep the visitor reading on-site, this is an element you should get rid of.
If you want to understand what makes a focused webpage, look at a good landing page. A landing page has a single goal, which is usually to get the visitor to sign up for an email list. On a good landing page, there is no element that does not lead the visitor down the page to the sign-up form.
What Goes on in Your Visitor's Mind – Branding
Although you should be focused on the action you want your visitor to take on your site, you should also think about the impression you leave in their mind after they leave your site. Branding is an important consideration in strategically planning a website.
When someone first hits your site, it should be immediately clear who you are, what you do, and what your core values are. Everything on your website and each of its pages should be in harmony with this. If your website successfully does this, after the visitor leaves your site, they will have a clear idea of your brand.
One of the most important considerations is what pages to include or not include on your website. Plan out your website's pages and its navigation and structure with the end goal and branding in mind.