Remember in high school when the instructor always had you outline your research paper before actually writing the content? Remember how so many of us skipped this part because well...we were lazy, and seriously nobody has time for that.
Unfortunately, this is one of those life skills where a teacher can really say, “I told you so.” (or should we say, “Yes, you are going to use this in the real world.”)
Outlines are the foundation for any great project, whether that be a paper, a product launch, or even a big speech. In this week’s blog post, you’re going to put that high school-taught skill to practice and develop a website outline.
So let’s answer this question right off the bat: Why can’t your web designer just build your website and fill in the words along the way? Listen, we wish it was that easy. A website outline is the text version of your website structure that defines the core features of each page. Before all the cool animation and clickable links can happen, a designer needs to determine where all of this plethora of information will live without overwhelming the user.
There’s many factors to consider when creating your website’s outline. Let’s run through the basics:
Sure, you want your customers to know everything about your biz, and trust us, they do appreciate the transparency. However, there’s a difference between covering the essentials and literal information overload. Before beginning your outline, brain dump your business on paper - this is everything from services to history to contact information.
Whether you realize it or not, your customers will subconsciously organize your business into a few base categories, mainly in an effort to wrap their minds around the information. You don’t want to over-complicate this process for them. Our team recommends no more than 5-7 groupings on your site. Examples of general web groups include: Home, About, Services/Products, Contact, Testimonials.
This is where most people get in trouble. You may be able to narrow down your main categories, but there are seriously too many subcategories to choose from. For instance, if you are an event planner that covers a variety of events, it can be overwhelming to have a different page for each individual event type. Although you want to show your customers you can do all the things, less is more when it comes to this section. Find ways to eliminate and reduce where possible - some services may have more in common than you think!
The last thing you want to do is word vomit on your website (let’s leave that to the old 2005 sites). When building your outline, consider the flow of the customer experience - how would you want to logically read the information on the page? Your end goal is ABC (always be closing), so including strategic call to actions on each page is essential in the building process.
Here’s a quick example of an About page outline:
Where we are today
“Email us to begin…” statement
CTA button to Contact page
Strategizing your content for each page doesn’t have to be complicated. Stick to what’s most important, condense/eliminate, and always have an action for the customer at the end.
If you’re in the beginning stages of building a website on your own or hiring a web developer to do it for you, you’ll want to have this process be the starting point for your project. You can create an outline easily using programs like Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or even just plain paper and pen.
Not sure how to get started? Our team of experts are here to walk you through this process step-by-step. Drop us a line to jump on a quick clarity call!