Whether you own a whole bunch of domain names or just a single one, there comes a time when you decide to develop a domain name into a living/breathing/functioning website.
Before you jump headfirst into the details of website construction, it is a good idea to take a bit of time and create a plan for your website.
What is the point of your website?
One of the first things you should do when planning your website is decide what your website is going to be about. The keywords that make up some domain names explicitly specify a meaning making it easier to define a website’s aims and goals (e.g. DailyNews.com), while other domain names pose a bit more difficulty (e.g. Prosperity.com). Either way, make sure your decide what your website is going to be about early on as this will make your job easier later.
What is your budget?
You should decide early how much money you wish to spend/invest in this stage of your website (ie for website development). Knowing how much money you have to play with can help you make decisions when outsourcing work at various stages of the development process.
Identify your competitors
There is an old saying “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer” and it applies to website building too. Knowing your competitors can help you clarify your website’s goals and aims, and give you ideas when planning your website.
An easy way to find your competitors is to search for websites targeting keywords that you hope to rank well for in search engines.
If your website is going to cater to a geographic location you can turn to more conventional sources like the whitepages as reference too.
Who will make up your target audience?
Who will your website primarily target? Children? Single moms? Teenagers? Sports fans? The elderly?
It is important to determine your website’s audience as your website structure, content and design should conform to the expectations of your target audience.
Obviously, picking a target audience is not as easy as it sounds as there are various factors to consider. Additionally, it does not have to be set in stone – your audience can consist of people from different demographics.
In order to get an idea of the kind of people that could make up your target audience, you can consult statistics available from censuses, online questionnaires and surveys, commercial databases, niche forums and as mentioned above, you can do some competitor research.
What will be the nature of your website?
Your website’s nature will greatly affect your website plans as well as your development/maintenance processes and budget.
Here are a couple of things you should think about as part of your website planning process:
- Will your website be made up of static or dynamic content (ie will this be a “set and forget site” or do you need a cms to edit content?
- How often will your site be updated?
- Where do you intend to source your content from? Do you need content writers?
- Will your website have user interaction (commenting, user registration, newsletters, social media interaction etc)?
- Do you wish to restrict access to certain parts of your website?
- Do you intend to include payment processing in your website?
- What technology do you intend to use to develop your website? (what databases? what languages? what cms if any?)
How do you plan to promote your website?
As part of your planning process, you should think about the ways you will promote your website as this too will shape your development process.
Will you primarily promote your site through social media? If so, you must make sure you provide your visitors with easy social media access on your site. You should also consider registering your social usernames before hand to prevent squatters grabbing them when you launch your website.
Do you plan to promote your site offline? If so, do research to find the best deals for offline material creation early so that you know how much of an outlay you have to make when the time comes to put this plan in action.
How do you plan to monetize your website?
If your website is of the commercial nature, you have to have a monetization plan. Will you earn money plainly from adsense or are affiliate sales the better option. Check out sites like CJ.com and Clickbank.com to see the offering of products from your niche and ascertain that there are enough products for your to promote if you go the affiliate way. Plan ahead for advertising slots in your design too in case you decide to let advertisers buy space on your new website.
Put a link building plan in place
Think about the ways you will promote your site to build incoming links. Obviously, content is your main priority because by writing quality content you encourage people to link to your posts, however writing quality content is not good enough on it’s own. For traffic building tips and ideas check out Blog Adrenaline – the traffic building ebook for blogs.
Hopefully the above has given you some food for thought as you set out to develop a domain name.
Watch out for future articles as we get deeper into the domain development process.